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Severe Vibration At Low Speed Acceleration

16304 Views 23 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  granitex
Need some ideas for where to look. This just started up last night on my way home from work. Here's the situation:

For the previous month or so, I've had a subtle squeek coming from what I would guess is the u-joint of the driveshaft at the t-case. I am not 100% certain but this was where the sound seemed to originate from. Only occurred when I was like backing out of a parking spot or creeping through a parking lot. Checked for play in the driveshaft and wear on the u-joints but found nothing.

I was stopped at a redlight yesterday and when I went to accelerate, a horrible vibration started up. I'd compare it to driving on the shoulder of some interstates that have the grooves (I call them wake-up bumps). I mean it shakes everything. Again, it seems to originate around the t-case to rear axle area. It's so violent it's hard to pinpoint.

If I creep off the line, it either doesn't do it or it's so small it isn't noticeable. It only gets bad under decent power and only shakes up through around 25 mph. Then it smooths out and no problems at any other speed.

It is not affecting the transmission as the shake continues through the shift from 1st to 2nd gear (auto). No slippage in the tranny. No affects on the motor. Seems entirely related to speed/driveline rotation.

So what am I looking at/ for guys? Bad u-joint or something worse like t-case damage? This is my DD and ONLY vehicle so I can't risk being stranded or without.

Need help asap!
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put the truck up on jack stands, and have another person press the gas, you'll find it

sounds like a bad ujoint, i didnt have any play or visible wear on mine when they were bad
Thanks D. Will definitely do that this Saturday. I hope that a u-joint is all it is because that's a cheap and easy fix. I'm really worried I may not be so lucky with the way s*** has been going lately. My home theater system crapped out just an hour after this happened. I forgot to pay a bill on time and I broke a shoelace. Yesterday sucked!!!!!

Anybody else got any ideas of possible culprits? When I tear into this thing, I want to be able to move from one possibility to the next because I can't have my X out of commission very long.

Thanks in advance.
be careful revving it on the jackstands, you dont want it to vibrate off them if its too bad, make sure you arent alone, someone needs to be in the driver seat for this id recommend not pushing the pedal with your hand while looking under the truck
My u-joint wasn't noticably bad either when it started making the vibration. I found out after about a month and i took the u-Joint out that the needle bearings under one cap were missing. The only thing that sounds wierd is that you don't have a vibration at high speeds. Thats a typical symptom of a bad u-Joint. like others mentioned, put it up on jack stands and look for something loose. I would check motor and trans mounts also. Actually that would be my guess.
Motor mounts (at first inspection) seem to be ok. There's no torqueing of the t-case shifter which is usually the first/main sign of a broken one but I plan on putting eyes on them Saturday as well as the tranny mounts.

I can't say for sure that it isn't vibrating at higher speeds. I do notice something not right but I've got my M/T's on and they could be masking the vibration because of how loud they are. It's just so weird how I left work and everything was fine but 25 miles of interstate driving later, I exit off, hit a redlight and when I started off all hell broke loose. The reason I'm not banking on tranny mounts is that the vibration is consistent through gear changes and doesn't fluctuate at all. But I'm not going to rule those out for sure.

Keep the ideas coming guys. I'm praying for it to be something I can do myself. I don't do tranny/gearing work.

So far these are the suggestions:

u-joint ( I hope so)
ring & pinion (from another forum)
tranny/motor mounts
Thanks man. A guy in my local club said that if the pinion angle is off, it will cause a wicked vibration like what I'm describing. How common/easy is it for the axle to twist and throw the pinion angle off?
I would do as Dustin suggested, except, try it in drive and idle first though.
Yeah I'm trying to round up my buddies to give me a hand Saturday so we can get a lot of eyes on the possibilities while someone mans the wheel. I've been freaking out over this all night and all day today. My X has never let me down even though I've abused the s*** out of it. It hasn't left me stranded yet but I don't like having to limp it around in this condition. I've got to get this fixed asap but I'm terribly afraid it's something that may be above my skill level. U-joints, pinion angle I can do. Gearing and tranny problems on the other hand is a whole new can of worms I will not get into. I leave that work up to the people that know what they are doing but unfortunately I don't have the cash to have them do it.

I'm a nervous wreck right now. When I break something, I try to fix it immediately but this is something new to me and I guess that is why it's freaking me out.
Just got word from a guy in my local club and he said it's exactly what Mike said. The squeeking I've been getting was a dry cap in the u-joint and now I've blown the needle bearings out. That's awesome news to me but he also said DO NOT DRIVE IT which is really bad news since I don't have a choice. He had the same thing happen on his yota but kept driving it for a few days until he dropped the driveshaft out of it and subsequently ripped the rear axle out of his yota. Fortunately I still have my driveshaft safety loop so hopefully that will prevent that.

I'm still going to do all the things you guys suggested though and I REALLY appreciate the help. I might actually be able to sleep tonight. lol
U-joints aren't something you want to delay on for the exact reason you mentioned.
Even with a drive shaft safety loop you can dink up the drive shaft and the underside of your X. It's a pretty simple fix and I'd recommend just burning the midnight oil and pound in a new u-joint or see if someone in your club there has a fixture & press to do it the easy way.
Why not drive it? If it is so bad that you think it is going to destroy a pinion seal, then do not do it. Use a coat hanger and attach both sides together. This is not a cheapo fix either to use the coat hanger, it is often done as a safety precaution.

The u-joint you need is a Spicer 4310-double check this number, it might be scrambled.

If you really are in a financial bind, remove the front driveshaft, and use those u-joints. You only need your rear right now.

Also, here are some tips for installing the U-joint:

Freeze it-literally, in the freezer. There are always problems with caps falling off and needle bearings going everywhere, and getting little dirt specs on them. This will prevent that, and it will make the grease in the caps hold to the u-joint.

clean it-using sand paper, or a flap wheel, or crokus cloth, clean out the female innards of the yoke, and drive shaft.

Circlips, using retaining ring pliers in not always the best. I have seen wire cutters and fat needlenose do a better job. A 90 degree pick is your friend as well when trying to avoid having the clip stick.

BFH-It is your friend, do NOT hit the part of the driveshaft where the driveshaft female, and u-joint male parts meet. It is really important that they are in round.
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I'm leaving now to take it to a local offroad shop about 3 miles away. I'm hoping they can at least look at it and determine what exactly is wrong and then I may just rent a car for the next couple of days. Renting a car for two days is way cheaper than repairing anything that might get destroyed if it breaks loose.
It will cost you less to replace than to rent a car.
Yea i wouldn't drive on the bad u joints either even though i drove for about a month on mine. Here are the ones i got. They are awesome. FYI. If you are going to do them yourself spray the crap out of them with some PB Blast and let them sit if possible. A bearin press is the best to use if you have one.
It will cost you less to replace than to rent a car.
Absolutely, hell, even Midas should be able to do the work cheaper than a couple days of car rentals; plus you should only have to wait an hour or two to get it done.
Get The u joints fixed as soon as possible before you damage the yolk or something worse.

u joints are cheap..... By the look of your X it looks like you could do this yourself no problem....... or have the shop fix them......

Unless the shop is looking at it for free looking is a waste of time and they might tell you there is more wrong than there is unless you know them.
$94, 45 minutes and two u-joints later, I'm back in business. The rear u-joint was trashed but he went ahead and replaced both.

What I was referring to about the rental car is if I was to drive it and it fail damaging the yoke, R&P and anything else under there, the cost of the rental car would be cheaper than replacing any and or all of that. I drive 30 miles to work 95% interstate. Failure at those speeds is not something I want to take a chance at.

No press necessary
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