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Catastrophic Breakdown - Transmission?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 exister99

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 11:36 AM

I will lay out exactly what happened before speculating about the cause.

I was driving along in my '84 GL when suddenly every time I turned the wheel slightly left there was loud clicking that made the whole car lurch. About a quarter mile later I made a 90 degree right turn and the sound and lurching occured while driving straight forward. After a few hundred yards of this there was only a faint grinding sound and I lost all power to the front wheels. I put the manual tranny in first gear, revved the engine and let up the clutch, but got no forward motion, only the faint grinding. I was on a fairly busy 4 lane road so I put on the flashers, went to the sidewalk and called AAA. After a few minutes of directing traffic away from the Soob while waiting for the tow it occured to me that I might still be able to get some power to the rear wheels, so I put the car in 4 low and what do you know but that it went! I pulled into a parking lot and stopped. Then when I tried to get going again I got no forward motion at all. Nothing in 2wd, 4 Hi or 4 Lo. No faint grinding sound either. After a few minutes the tow truck showed up. We got all four wheels off the ground and he towed me home.

Now for my reckless conjecture. I think my transmission is shot. I just recently changed the fluid in it and the level was good. I put the recommended Redline Brand fluid in it. I did notice that the metal part of the gear shifter was getting kind of hot frequently. It is a 4 speed standard transmission.

Based on my story, what do you think it is? If it is the tranny then what are my options? Has anyone here rebuilt their own manual tranny? What is a good source for rebuilt Subaru trannies? I am confident that I can take the unit out myself, and I won't let the AAMCO folks touch my Soob (or any other vehicle for that matter).

Any pointers, questions or humorous comments are welcome.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 12:09 PM

sounds to me like one of the front axles is blown out. check your cv axles/joints then report back.

i know a few people that have taken apart xt and xt6 manual transmissions with no problems though i haven't attempted it myself.

#3 exister99

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 12:44 PM

I replaced the front axles a few months ago and all of the boots are still intact. Besides, if it were the front axles wouldn't I still be able to get power to the rear wheels?

#4 calebz

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 12:51 PM

First series of syptoms sounded like a front diff grenading.. beyond that, I don't know why you lost all forward motion even in 4wd..

#5 Humble Nuto 53

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 12:58 PM

axel nut tight?

ive heard they can strip the splines out of the hub...

easy to check


hope its axel and not tranzzzzmisery

#6 Alexx

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 03:09 PM

I replaced the front axles a few months ago and all of the boots are still intact. Besides, if it were the front axles wouldn't I still be able to get power to the rear wheels?


Why did you replace the front axles a couple of months ago? What was the symptom that led you to change the front axle, and how close was this new symptom to when you replaced the front axle.

Maybe you also needed to replace one of the tie rod ends.

#7 hooziewhatsit

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 03:21 PM

axel nut tight?

ive heard they can strip the splines out of the hub...

easy to check


hope its axel and not tranzzzzmisery


ditto,

check the hubs to make sure the splines aren't stripped... rather odd though why it won't move in 4wd though....

#8 Ross

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 04:56 PM

If the front diff broke up, parts of it may have damaged shift forks or something when you drove it off the road. This would explain why you cant move at all.

#9 exister99

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 11:41 PM

axel nut tight?

ive heard they can strip the splines out of the hub...

easy to check


hope its axel and not tranzzzzmisery


You sir are the winner!

I put the Soob up on jackstands, started it up and put it in first. Lo and behold the left front halfshaft was spinning away and the wheel wasn't moving. I took off the hub cap and the nut was loose, but still in place due to the cotter pin. I took off the hub and the splines from the halfshaft had bored out the splines on the hub. Fortunately I don't need to take out the half shaft, but I do need to find a new hub. Any suggestions? The centering piece is pretty worn down too so I may need a new one of those. Maybe I'll have to go to the dealer.

It is interesting to note that with this spinning halfshaft I was unable to get power to any of the other wheels. I'm sure this has something to do with the design of the front and rear diffs, which the more experienced among us might be able to shed some light on.

Well, it's off to find a hub I go!

#10 exister99

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 11:43 PM

Why did you replace the front axles a couple of months ago? What was the symptom that led you to change the front axle, and how close was this new symptom to when you replaced the front axle.

Maybe you also needed to replace one of the tie rod ends.


I replaced both axles because the boots were leaking, then I burnt out the passenger side DOJ on a 4-wheeling/deep water crossing trip. Both axles are fine now.

#11 Subi81

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 01:14 AM

Ya stripped hubs happen, my brother did the same thing to his 81 wagon. Just check your axle nuts every once and a while and you shouldn't ever have that problem again.

#12 Alexx

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 01:22 AM

Ya stripped hubs happen, my brother did the same thing to his 81 wagon. Just check your axle nuts every once and a while and you shouldn't ever have that problem again.


Are we talking the axle nuts that are under the hubcap?

#13 Ross

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 02:16 AM

Makes no sense that you cant get power to the rear wheels, there is no center diff. Are you sure about not being able to drive in 4?

#14 exister99

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 12:21 PM

Makes no sense that you cant get power to the rear wheels, there is no center diff. Are you sure about not being able to drive in 4?


That's correct my friend. I put it in 4 Lo and 4 Hi and nothing. For whatever reason that spinning left front shaft sucked up all the torque.

#15 exister99

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 12:38 PM

Ya stripped hubs happen, my brother did the same thing to his 81 wagon. Just check your axle nuts every once and a while and you shouldn't ever have that problem again.


This is another interesting topic for discussion. When I took the left front hub apart the castle nut was indeed loose, but it was still in the same location relative to the threads on the halfshaft as it was being held in place by the cotter pin. The looseness actually was due to the fact that the cone shaped centering piece had been ground down by having the washer under the castle nut spinning on it.

My theory is that the loose castle nut is a symptom rather than a cause. The weird front end noises started shortly after Memorial Day when I enjoyed a rather sporting 2.5 ft deep water crossing near the Rio Grande. I think the sudden contraction of the metal hub in the cold water may have allowed the half shaft to break one of the splines on the hub, thus starting the process that eventually led to the whole hub getting stripped. As it was getting stripped there was grinding motion between the washer and centering piece leading to the previously noted looseness in the castle nut. So, yes check your castle nut tightness, especially after a fun deep water crossing.

Another interesting thing to note is that I experienced about a 25% decrease in gas mileage over the last few months. This makes sense if you think about the half shaft spinning momentarily in the hub before catching again. This represents lost motion and hence lost gas usage. So, for the second lesson, if your mileage drops suddenly check your castle nuts!

#16 hooziewhatsit

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 01:18 PM

That's correct my friend. I put it in 4 Lo and 4 Hi and nothing. For whatever reason that spinning left front shaft sucked up all the torque.


umm.. it shouldn't work like that... I drove a car with a bad front hub about 50 miles in 4WD once after I bought it.

Now if one of the rear hubs decided to strip also... that could cause a complete no-go situation. Something I would check while you're at it.

#17 subynut

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 03:18 PM

umm.. it shouldn't work like that... I drove a car with a bad front hub about 50 miles in 4WD once after I bought it.

Now if one of the rear hubs decided to strip also... that could cause a complete no-go situation. Something I would check while you're at it.

Yes, I seconed that. You should still be able to move forward in 4wd even if both fronts were missing. I would seriously look into that!

#18 Ross

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 04:40 PM

Yes, I seconed that. You should still be able to move forward in 4wd even if both fronts were missing. I would seriously look into that!


exactly. If you cant move in 4wd, you have other problems.

#19 exister99

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 08:52 PM

To give this thread some closure, I scored a hub at a junkyard for $35, took it home and cleaned it up. I recall now that when I last changed the halfshafts there was grease from the bearings on the splines of the halfshaft. I suspect this may have helped with the initial slippage of the splines which then became a slippery slope leading to complete spline strippage. This time around I applied generous amounts of thread locker to the splines and the castle nut threads, then tightened the whole mess to about 150 ft/lbs. I don't mind any extra effort to remove it next time as long as it stays put for now.

While I had the Soob on jackstands I went ahead and ran it in 4 WD and the rear wheels did in fact spin. Maybe I was just goofing up before.




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