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Severe Vibration At Low Speed Acceleration

16264 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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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.
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?
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
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.
$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.
did you keep the u-joints??? pics???
Nope... didn't even think about it. I should have but he was on a roll and I didn't want to check him up. He had a Denali, a Scout, a Yota and a full-size Ford tow-rig in his shop that he put aside to get me fixed up.

While I was waiting though, I met a custom-fab guy that has a shop in my hometown that I've been hearing raves over. He drives a Titan so he's a nissan fan. He invited me over to his shop to look at some custom stuff for the xterras. If/when I can make it over there, I'll see what all this guy can fab up for us and try to get some prices. I know he does any and all tube work but I want to check on some other things as well that might help us out.
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