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Old 05-06-2021, 09:32 PM   #1
billr
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Default '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

This is a long-shot, but can anybody suggest a definitive way to tell if an axle has a bad CV joint while the axle is still in the car? Rotating the shafts slowly with my hand on the joints, I think the inboard RH has some lash/roughness in it.

However, the only way I can think of to confirm is to open up the joint for inspection, and by then I will have to "throw a new one at it" (or boot) no matter what.

The symptom? An intermittent clunking sound from the front that seems to be at "wheel" frequency, not related to roads bumps or steering R/L; but maybe increases with engine load.

My Saturns are the only FWD cars I have ever had, so kind of a newbie on this...
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Old 05-07-2021, 01:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

Isn't the test for FWD axles just driving in low speed circles at a high steering angle (near full lock)?
Then the bad axle is the inside one for whichever direction turn you're making (left turn = left axle).
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

I did only a few sharp turns, but no noise then. The noise doesn't seem related to turns or bumps, only (maybe) engine load.

It is quite intermittent, doesn't pop up for long periods of time; but when it does, it is bad enough you wonder if you are going to make it to a convenient place to stop...

I may take it off the jackstands and go do more of those "tight turns"; I'll wait to see what else gets suggested.

As I often say, noises are notoriously hard to describe or identify where they come from. This one is no different. It sounds like it is coming from either the L or R, depending on which seat you are in. There is no noticeable radial slop in any of the joints, and end-play seems the same (.030-.060") on both axles. However, that inner-R one feels "rough" when slowly rotated.
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Old 05-08-2021, 04:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

I went to a big vacant parking lot and did a lot of tight turns. It is having a "good" day today, made no noise going there or coming back; and no noise when first doing the turns.

However, when I dragged the brakes with my left foot to load the drivel-line, the right-hand turns consistently produced the noise. That, coupled with my finger- feel on the joint, has convinced me the RH axle has to come out for inspection, at least.
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Old 05-10-2021, 10:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

When I went to remove the axle nut I found it was not very tight. Not completely loose, but way under what it should have been. I'm guessing it took only 50-100 ft-lb to get it moving. Behind it was some of that bright -red "fretting" rust/dust. The bearing balls/races all look OK, but the ball-cages were both broken and I don't think they were broken during the bearing removal. At any rate, the bearing is going to be replaced with a Timken SET39 tapered-roller unit. I'm curious to see how those fit and last...

I took the boot off the inner axle joint, everything in there looks OK, so the boot went back on and the axle will be left alone.
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Old 05-24-2021, 12:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

The tapered-roller bearing (Timken Set39) fit perfect, now just have to see how it lasts. Yes, it took almost 2 weeks to arrive via the FedX cheapest rate; delivery date was cancelled and re-scheduled twice as the package zig-zagged across the country and took a couple of prolonged "rest stops" on the way.
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Old 05-24-2021, 02:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: '95 SL2 manual, axle/CV problem

Good call on the Timken. Its what I use in all my vehicles (including the airplane). you need a hub grappler tool to press it in/out but sounds like you already took care of that.
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