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Front differential full of metal shavings

(2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee)
in Jefferson City, MO on September 21, 2009
About a month ago I took my Jeep to the dealership because of a grinding noise that I could hear in the front wheel region. I could also feel the grinding on the front floor boards beneath my feet. They pull it all apart and showed me one of the sets of bearings in the front differential it was chewed completely up (I kept this bearing set) and they even showed my goops of the diff. fluid that was thick and black and was chuck full of these metal shavings. They didn't know what had caused it this mess but the repair they did was that they replaced several components, such as the bearings and other things that I don't remember all the names to, but they didn't put in an entire new assembly, such as not replacing the pinions, and a few other things. I am a RN, not a mechanic, but I didn't have a vague understanding as to what was going on because my dad had explained it to me. My dad said that they should've replaced the whole thing because those metal shavings were all over the place. They claimed that they cleaned them all out and thus the other pieces didn't need replaced. Now, it's about a month later and THE EXACT SAME THING HAS HAPPENED!....only this time the noise was a bit different. I could hear the gears grinding and feel them under my feet just like last time. My dad said he knew this was going to happen again it was just a matter of time. He took the plug of and it was caked in black thick grease and just chuck full of metal shavings again. So, I took it back up to the dealership and told them that their little patch job didn't work and asked them if they were going to fix it right this time. The vehemently said that they way they fixed it the last time was correct. I told them that they needed to find the REASON this was happening first instead of putting band-aids on top of the problem and THEN fix it correctly....replace the entire assembly. Ok, this 2004 Jeep Gr.Ch has NEVER been on any gravel roads, nothing. It has 42,000 miles on it. Is your opinion what could be causing this to occur? My dad said it has to be warped or something and it has to be a factory defect. I've treated this vehicle like a baby...religiously had maintenance work, changed oil every 3,000 miles, etc. It is practically new at 42,000 miles. I just paid it off and it's 5 yrs, 3 mths. old. Please share your thoughts with me. Thx.
Displaying 1 answers & 2 comments
Popular Answer
of Greg Solow's Engine Room on September 21, 2009
I would not expect a front differential problem at 40,000 miles seems way to new for this problem especially since it is not used off road. I would have suggested changing the differential oil any way every 30,000 miles but this is not what caused the problem. Unless the differential was taken out of the car, completely disassembled and cleaned pieces of the oil bearings and goo could have been hiding any where as your dad said.
on September 22, 2009
Thank you autotechpat for your prompt response. I sincerely appreciate it. I apologize for my original posting being full of typographical errors, as it was rather late last night when I typed it. So, let me clarify myself on a couple of points: The dealership reported that they did, in fact, take apart the whole shabang and thoroughly clean it out/flush it out. They didn't, however, have any idea as to what had caused this huge mess to begin with. I mean, a rather brand new vehicle, as I had described earlier, shouldn't have had this occur. Even the mechanic was alarmed at the severity of the problem, mentioning that he hadn't seen a case that bad in a long time, if ever. Now, about 1 month later, the problem is right back, only ten fold. The metal shavings and nasty thick black goop is right back, and in much higher quantity. I did overhear the mechanic tell the service manager, "I don't know what's wrong with it...maybe we do need to replace the gears." So, at this point in the game, my concern is WHY IS THIS OCCURRING? The problem needs to identified before fixing the result of the problem, because as everyone has recognized, this is waayyyy too early for this sort of thing to have occurred at only 42,000 mi. My thoughts are that if they did cleaned it out thoroughly like they said, and I'm sure they did, why did this problem reappear much worse than the first time and only 1,000 miles later? Wouldn't it be far to assume that there is a major underlying problem such something being warped (I don't remember the name for what that would be) and that this most-assuredly is a factory defect? What are your thoughts as what could be causing this mess in my Jeep that has so few miles and has been taken care of I way I've taken car of it. I mean, I use it for in-town driving for the most part; some highway driving but only for short 30mi. trips to the Mall and such. I just can't wrap my mind around this whole mess. The dealership is going to take it apart today and then let me know what they think is wrong with it and how they intend to repair it. My dad is mad because they needed to have replaced the whole assembly the first time, as the bearings that they should me (that I kept) were completely chewed up. I mean, many of the bearings were practically chewed in half, so how could the pinions and such that were swimming in this same crap not have sustained any damage as well, whatsoever? And, the biggest question now that it has reoccurred again, and far worse than the first time, is that what could be causing this to happen? Thank you in advance for any advice/opinons you may be able to offer.
on September 09, 2010
Hello Lyndsey, I have a 2004 Grand Cherokee Limited and had the same thing happen to me. had a awful grinding noise in the front end and when i opened up the differential the same thing. the problem with mine was the full time 4wd was causing the pinion to pull away from the yoke causing the bearing to have play. I just replace the whole axle housing and all. It's only been a few months so we'll see if that's the problem.
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