Fairly loud 'clanking' sound coming from differential...


Old 06-05-03, 08:38 PM
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Fairly loud 'clanking' sound coming from differential...

Hello all,

My name is Patrick Cambre and I live in New Iberia, La., USA.

A dear friend of mine gave me his 1987 Crown Victoria (5.0 Liter Automatic) car, when
he decided to buy a new car.

It's been about one year now...since I have been driving it...and everthing has
been working fine...until about one week ago.

I started to hear a low 'clanking' sound coming from the rear of the drive train. I auto
thought that it was time to change my u-joints, but when I had a fellow look at it at Auto
Zone, he told me...'it is not your u-joints, but somewhere in the 'differential'!

He said that both u-joints were fine and that the 'looseness' is coming from inside the

So, this is where I am...I am fairly provicient in fixing things myself...I just wanted ask...
if anyone knows 'for a fact'...just what the problem is...maybe a pinion gear? I have never
worked on a differential before...so I do not know what could be causing this problem. Is
there a typical 'component' that usually goes bad...when one hears a 'clanking' sound coming
from 'inside' the differential. If so, I would not hesitate to replace that part myself...if,
in fact, someone could guide me into figuring out 'what part' is PROBABLY bad.

I want to thank each and everyone for taken' the time to read my request. I do hope I receive
some sort of guidance on this...as I do love the car...and would gladly find out how to fix it
myself....that is...if I could be relatively sure...of just what the problem is.

Like I had said, it's been about a week now...and the low claknking sound has gotten a little
ouder. I made sure and checked my fluid level...it was about one 3/4 of a guart low...so I added
that amount in....the sound is not as 'clanky'...but it is still there.

I await knowledge from who ever reads my article. Thank you again for the time taken' in reading
my request.


Patrick Cambre
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Old 06-05-03, 10:01 PM
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I recommend you replace the u-joints first. They're 16 years old & they may very well be the problem. The folks at Autozone may or may not be competent to diagnose drivetrain problems, so I wouldn't put much weight in their diagnosis.

The u-joints are dirt cheap and easy to change. If they don't solve the problem, and you've POSITIVELY isolated the noise to the rear diff, buy a used rear end assembly from a junkyard. Properly repairing your existing rear end could end up costing nearly as much as the car is worth. A used rear end could cost as little as $30 at a "u-pull-it" junkyard, or as much as $200 from other salvage operators.

If you go for the used rear, make sure the axle code on the door jamb sticker of the junk car matches the axle code on YOUR door jamb sticker.

I'm not a huge fan of used parts, but in this case it's the only economical way to repair the car.
Old 06-06-03, 12:42 AM
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Hello Sir Knuckles,

Yes, what I will do tomorrow is go to my authorized Ford dealer and somehow 'pull' one of those good technicians from thier work...and ask them if they can easily check and see what the problem is...

...if they say the u-joints, I will be more than happy to change them...

...but if they say that is coming from the differential...and somehow maybe tell me a little more of what is involed in it...I will again, gladly start scouting junyhards and do what you have recommended.

I will post again later Friday night...just to let you know what I have found out.

Again, Sir Knuckles, I thank you for sharing your knowledge with one...that is limited in that area.

I will keep you posted my friend. And maybe, you could direct me better when I find out more of the culprit.


Old 06-06-03, 03:43 AM
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Knuckles has it 100% correct. Make sure whatever salvage yard you use has the ADP Hollander system. This will tell them which cars/years/models share the same rear end as yours.

This is a fairly "decent" car overall and with a used rear will probably go a few more years with little trouble.
Old 06-06-03, 04:07 PM
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Hello Knuckles and Joe F.,

Yes, this morning when I woke up, I got in my car and went to my tune-up place. I had asked him to check out the vehicle and see what was making that sound. He said to roll it up on the ramp...but right before I got on the ramp...he said...

"No need to roll it up on the ramp Patrick, the sound I was hearing as your car moved closer and closer to the ramp, sounds exactly like the real universal joint that is bad.

I then thanked him and went directly to Auto Zone and bought two universal joints (with zerk fittings). I came back home and just completed the job...


I want to thank both of you for giving me guidance on this...who knows...if I would of never got a reply on this forum...I might just have been in my local junk yard looking for a back end!!!

Again, my thank-you's for both of you.

The car was given to me, and I told the fellow who gave the car to me...I will keep it up just as you did. I am still holding that promise to him...thanks to both of you.

I know now where to come, should anything else comes up along the way with the ole' Crown Victoria.

...and do have a rewarding week-end!


Patrick Cambre
Old 06-06-03, 04:41 PM
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Good Job!

Patrick - You're right. This is the place to be for helpful advice. The moderators and many of the members have pointed me in the right direction on numerous occasions. Every now and then some chucklehead will feel the need to trash moderators and/or contributors, but for the most part I've only encountered people in desperate need of help (like ME!) and people more than willing to offer that help ( too many to name). Stick around; it's good to have you here! - Chris
Old 06-06-03, 08:24 PM
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thanks for the thanks


You're more than welcome. Positive feedback from forum users like you is the only 'pay' contributors like us get & we're thankful whenever we get it.

Glad you got the old Ford going. As Joe said, it's a decent car & will likely last a good while as long as you take care of it.

The Ford 8.8" rear end is pretty stout & rarely fails unless abused (drag slicks & lots of HP/torque) or neglected. The weakest point on these rears is the pinion seal. They often leak & are either ignored/neglected or improperly repaired, either of which will cause a failure.
Old 06-06-03, 09:54 PM
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Hello all,

Yes, the end of this week turned out great! I am again thankful for the help in the area that was really needed. I mostly help out my family with any things that comes up...the 'jack of all trades' kind of guy.

And the only thing I can give in return to all the help is my personal website.

I have been dabbling in making simple electronic circuits...in fact, one circuit called the 'Dashboard Digital Voltmeter', might take fancy to some, if not all of you.

Do stop by the site and look at all the wonderful projects I have. I will always be there, to give help, should anyone need it, concerning any of the projects.

That is my gift to you.

My site is at: http://braincambre500.freeservers.com

And all...do have a rewarding week-end. See everyone next time around...hopefully 'not toooo soon'!

...your friend, Patrick
Old 06-07-03, 06:33 AM
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Thumbs up

Good job and you're welcome. It ALWAYS pays to start with the simple stuff first!

Chris is correct, there are occassionally some jokers that come around to cause trouble, I just take fun in making them feel sorry they ever opened their mouths .
Old 06-07-03, 08:04 AM
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Hello all,

Yes, one more thing comes to mind when you said...

'The weakest point on these rears is the pinion seal. They often leak & are either ignored/neglected or improperly repaired, either of which will cause a failure.'

There is a lot of 'build up' around the back plate of the differential. I am not sure if that is the area where the pinion seal is....possible you could give me a little more info on where that seal is...so I can look and see if leakage has been a problem over the years...wherever the area of the seal would be...for me to look in that area and re-check to see if leakage has occured over time.

So my questions are...

1) Since the area underneath the central body of the rear end is all covered with old (built up) oil, what would you suggest I do to find out where this build up came from?

2) And what signs do I look for in keeping the 'rear end' healthy and happy?

...your friend, Patrick
Old 06-07-03, 09:33 AM
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Drive it as is .

Rear ends can be trouble when they don't have to be. As long as the brakes aren't getting soaked with rear end fluid, leave it go. When you start to hear differentil noise, have it rebuilt or replace it with a junkyard unit.

The only "maintenance" in a rear drive differential is to change the fluid back there every 100k or so, more often if you are anal like me .
Old 06-07-03, 09:45 AM
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The pinion seal is where the driveshaft meets the differential.If it's not leaking bad leave it alone,can cause more problems trying to fix it.Rear differentials can be tricky kinda like auto transmissions.It's another area that requires special tools.

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