Noise from rear. Engine? Transmission? Axles?


BobbyJoe

New member
I own a 1990 Wesfalia with automatic transmission which I have owned for four years and keep stored in Germany. My wife and I return every summer to tour around Europe for about three months. We love our Westy and couldn't afford to travel over there any other way. It has been a trusty steed and only recently developed a disturbing sound coming from the rear. I have taken it to the German VW dealers (4) and they all seem to think I am losing my mind when I explain the problem. I recently found this web site and hope someone out there can shed some light on my problem. Other Westy owners may have experienced the same problem. The problem: After climbing steep grades (10% or greater) for a short period, a metallic clanking sound begins from the rear. When letting off the gas, it stops temporarily but soon begins again. Stopping for a while seems to help, but soon it begins again. Also running flat out up a very slight incline for long periods (2 hrs) of time at 60 Mph, it begins to show itself again. It has been a most annoying problem and as a result keeps us from going across the European Alps. We must pick the roads with smaller grades and not through the higher passes. Any help woud be greatly appreciated. BJL
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I've heard of it twice and both times it was CV joints.

I'm not going to say this is a normal symptom. CVs usually grind and do so worse in a corner than driving straight. For the life of me, I can't see where incline would have much to do with it, but . . .? In both cases a repack -- replacing the bad ones -- of the CV's cured their problems. Even then, there was nothing to indicate why they should go make metalic noises instead of the usual grrrr! I can only speculate the cages had developed slack that combined with channel wear and gave enough free play to start the noise.

How long since CV's were inspected & repacked? That's usually a 30K or 60K job. Cv moly, especially in a car that sits idle for any period of time, can harden. It's a soft paste at room temperature but turns into a think molasses type oil at operating temperatures. Apparently it can stifen and then not get warm enough to replentixh the joints as they squeeze out the lube that is there.
 

BobbyJoe

New member
BobbyJoe: That is a start, but not sure it is the CV joints. They were checked only 6 months ago. The vehicle does sit for periods longer than 6 months. The metallic sound is loud and like a clank, clank, clank sound with about three second pauses in-between, under heavy load and at speeds near 20Mph, going up steep inclines of more than 10%. No Grrr sound at all. [/BJ]

[This message has been edited by Capt. Mike (edited 09-17-2000).]
 

CGOTTS

New member
BobbyJoe - being that your Westy is an automatic, one thing that needs to be checked is the transmission itself. I own an '85 Westy with an automatic transmission and have been religious about taking care of it. One thing that needs to be done is have the fluid changed and a new filter installed. It is possible that when going up these slight to steep upgrades, you maybe a little low on fluid? One other thing that needs to be checked as well, is the final drive section - most people think that the automatic transmission uses just automatic transmission fluid through the whole thing. This is not correct on our transmission - the automatic shifting section is a separate section then the final drive section. Bet you didn't know that these are a 3 modular system - if one section fails, you can replace just that section. Anyway - the final drive section uses 80/90W gear oil in it, and since this is an important section, most people don't check the level of it. This is not to say that this is your problem but should be something to check. The fact that you get a pulsing sound seems to be a sound that a CV joint would make, but as Capt. Mike has already stated, you should hear this more on turns or when the bus is swaying from side to side, etc. It could be that the last person who did the CV joints for you didn't tighten all the bolts on the CV's inside the swing arms, and it is coming out far enough to be hitting something? Do you notice any kind of a loss of power from the engine during this noise? How about temperature guage reading, still in a normal zone? I had a water pump starting to fail that made a similar sound - this should also be something to consider. One last thought on this subject - has anyone checked the bolts on the torque converter? It is also possible that you have a bolt coming loose? Hope these items help and good luck with your driving experience in Europe - jealous!
 

BobbyJoe

New member
CGOTTS - Thanks for the tips, as well as those from Capt Mike. All of which I will have checked out when I return to Europe again in May, 2001. In answer to your questions, I haven't given any thought to the Transmission. I had read some comments you gave to another member who was having trouble with his automatic. From that, I learned there was more than one lubrication system. I too had heard a similar noise from water pumps and or lubrication pumps in other European cars. (TR-2,3, and MGTD's) However, no changes have occured in temperature and no power losses during the noises. Of course pulling up a very steep hill under heavy load requires very slow going anyway. On the Autobhan and traveling at speeds of 60mph and higher and up a long very slow climb, the sound changes tune and become more like a middle pitch harmonic vibration and faster of course, similar what you would you hear if the table folded back to the wall might sound like if it started to vibrate. I finally eliminated that possibility by sitting in the back while my wife drove. Thanks again for the help. BobbyJoe
 

lnp00

New member
Hi All!

Don't know if this is a dead issue but today my Westy (manual tranny) developed a slight clanking from the rear passenger side, which got progressively louder as the day wore on; to the point that I was concerned about driving any further.

I got home and crawled under to see if something was blatantly apparent, nope.
Next I grabbed the pasenger side axle shaft and slid it back and forth between the wheel and tranny. Of course there was a clunk as it met metal at each end. Nothing seemed unusual. I tried the driver side axle and got a distinctly different sounding clunk as it hit the metal on the wheel side.

Having tinkered as such, I asked a neighbour to walk along side as I drove to see if he could pinpoint where the sound was coming from; but there was no clunk, nada, nuttin'! Could the sliding of the axle shaft have re-seated something that came loose? I'm sure this is a temporary kludge and I'll be faced with another round of troubleshooting.

Comments are welcome!

TIA,
Len :confused:
 

frito

New member
I could have written your message only a few short days and several hundred dollars ago. Check the CV joints.
 

cgcrawford

New member
Found CV's at fault.

I have followed this thread for sometime because my 1984 Westfalia Automatic Water-Cooled made the exact same noise as described by BobbyJoe and under the same conditions. The noise always occurred on grades in excess of 10% and sometimes on lesser grades when under a bit of load. There was never a growling sound when cornering just the troubling noise as described.

This problem was disturbing because I had a trip planned to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California that was going to take me over Sonora Pass. For those who are not aware, Sonora Pass has a grade of 26% in one spot and a long stretch at 20% with an elevation of 9624’. A combination that could spell disaster for a Westy that is already showing a problem.

In review of the previous owner’s service records the only CV work noted was done 40k previous. I noted when looking underneath that some of the boots were starting to tear and show cracking. One of the many things I have learned from this Msg. Board is that the Westy is hard working and deserves to be treated well. So I bought new boots and CV’s. Cap't Mike had mentioned in an earlier post that this could be the cause.

The CV’s were all replaced with new ones. One old CV did have a very small amount of play. With the new parts in place we headed for the big test. I am happy to report that the noise is gone. The Westy made it over the 26% grade pass (13mph), and others very similar without a problem and even did okay with the altitude.

Thanks to all members for their sharing of information, it has been invaluable.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Bizarre noise from right rear wheel

tom van dyke Junior Member # 917 posted 12-01-2001 05:33 PM

I have an unusual noise coming from right rear wheel only. It's not the rim or the wheel because I've had a brake job and tires rotated and the noise continues. VW specialist at the dealer looked at it and said, nope, it's not a bearing or CV joint problem. Noise is rhythmic but also sounds like something is binding. Has anyone ever had this problem?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
What year, what model? See Message Board Guidelines #3. Also need more information.

Is it related to vehicle speed or engine speed; what gears; does it do it in reverse; describe sound -- grinding, squeal, click or growl? Does it do it on the lift or jackstands, or only when on the ground; if on stands, only under power or when wheels turned by hand? What have you checked -- don't assume because you've had a 'brake job' that eliminates everything related there? In fact did it occur before the brake job or after; or did it change after?
 

thomasvandyke

New member
This sounds very similar to the posts above. Sorry I missed this thread but I went for "wheels and brakes" section first and didn't see anything similar. The noise occured before any work to the vehicle. It begins at slow or freeway speeds. It eminates from right rear wheel. I haven't put it up on jackstands to check. I suspected the CV joint and took it into a local VW dealer service dept. which had installed a factory rebuilt engine earlier this year. What a mistake taking it back! The service manager had left and a new crew took over. The mechanic who installed the engine is the reason I went back but the service crew totally p*ssed me off by keeping the van for a week then jamming it to the mechanic on Friday afternoon. They gave it back to me with 2hours charge for "diagnosis" and nothing resolved. More or less, they kept it for a week, charged me $160 and told me it needed work! I kinda knew that before I took it in. Anyway, 2 weeks later I take it in to have the brakes done at a local outlet of national chain. They charge $180 to do the brakes. I'll probably take it into the same place on Monday and ask them to take the CV joints apart to see if they need packing or replacement or whatever. VERY disappointed with the VW dealer. Things change. Thanks for redirecting me to this thread. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
 

thomasvandyke

New member
Oh, by the way, it's a 1983.5 watercooled making this noise. We drove to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on the shores of the Beaufort Sea this summer. Great trip!
 

lono

New member
I had a simular clanking sound comming from the rear on my 1985 Van. It started after the rear brake drums were removed to inspect both sides of the brake shoes. The brake drums came loose as the mechanic did not apply the required 253 ft-lbs of torque.

lono

[ 12-02-2001: Message edited by: lono ]
 

JoelD

New member
Hate to add more questions to this section rather than answers, but I've got a strange noise from the RR of my '87 Westy with 161,000 miles and a manual transmission. ONLY on left turns, and ONLY under load I get this kind of scraping noise from the vicinity of the rear passenger side axle. Not a grinding, but more like a hollow scraping coming from something rotating. Not a rubbing noise. The noise started about a month ago, and seems to happen only in first gear, when starting into traffic. It should be mentioned that four months ago I had a used transmission (uhg! I know, I should have gone rebuild but $ was low) and four new CV's installed by a local shop. Once this noise started I thought it might be a good idea to repack rear bearings, and see if that was the cause of the noise. I ended up replacing the rear bearings while I had it all torn apart. When I got it all back together the noise is still there. Maybe a motor mount is weak or broken and is letting engine/transaxle shift to the right on hard lefts? A drum dragging a bit? Crank pully rubbing, though there's no visible signs of that. Or what? I'm at a loss. My mechanic heard the noise today with me at the wheel and was pretty sure that it wasn't tranny or CV related. Not surprisingly both of which are under warranty. He says he's stumped and wants me to let the noise get worse so that it may be easier to diagnose. So I put it to the forum, have any of you dealt with this type of noise, and if so what was it?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Motor or transmission mounts are unlikely, mostly because there are only 4 and even the most dimwitted of mechanics should have checked and spotted these. They are also unlikely to be one dimensional, the left turn.

Transmissions don't misbehave 'only' on left turns under load. A bad differential might make noise under turns when it is doing its designed 'slip thing', but it should occur in either direction and load shouldn't be a factor.

I still lean towards a CV joint -- a new joint is not necessarily a quarantee of fix. New joint installation still requires almost all the practices of a repack; cleaning the shipping preservative off (you'd be surprised how few mechanics do), packing correctly with the right moly grease, installing in the right direction (Yes, there is an inside & outside and it matters! And it will fit backwards.) and keeping them clean. An '84 is a nightmare in this respect because they are so deep inside the rear trailing arm that fills with dirt & debris. Be sure he's not just stalling you until the warranty runs out!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Placing questions in the existing topic is the correct method; "a few large chapters instead of many little posts. :cool:

Motor or transmission mounts are unlikely, mostly because there are only 4 and even the most dimwitted of mechanics should have checked and spotted these. They are also unlikely to be one dimensional, i.e. the left turn.

Transmissions don't misbehave 'only' on left turns under load. A bad differential might make noise under turns when it is doing its designed 'slip thing', but it should occur in either direction and load shouldn't be a factor.

I still lean towards a CV joint -- a new joint is not necessarily a quarantee of fix. New joint installation still requires almost all the practices of a repack; cleaning the shipping preservative off (you'd be surprised how few mechanics do), packing correctly with the right moly grease, installing in the right direction (Yes, there is an inside & outside and it matters! And it will fit backwards.) and keeping them clean. An '84 is a nightmare in this respect because they are so deep inside the rear trailing arm that fills with dirt & debris. Be sure he's not just stalling you until the warranty runs out!
 
G

Guest

Guest
I would like to update the original comment I posted on the message board about unusual clanking noise from the rear while going up steep inclines at slow speeds. This topic has gone several circles now and the apparent fix should be very simple. I took the recommendations from Cpt Mike and Cgotts, both of which I highly regard. When I returned to Europe this past Summer (for four months) I changed the CV boots and all worn parts and also replaced the Automatic transmission fluid, filter and appropriate seals. I might add, after spending what I thought was an appropriate amount of money for these repairs, the 91 Westy, with 130,000 miles on it runs absolutely great. It made some high treks in the Swiss and Austrian Alps with the greatest of ease. Again, I thank you guys, Cpt Mike and CGOTTS for information to help guys like me who know so little about the mechanical make up of our trusty steeds.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Mystery solved. I took the van to a local all-purpose "we work on everything shop" and they found the source of the mystery noise--a "slightly worn axle." $200 later they replaced it and it works great. No noise and the ride is better than ever. The VW dealer promised to send me back the $160 they charged to keep my van for a week, then give it back saying "yep, needs work. Nope, we don't know what it is." Moral--VW dealer is a good place to have a VW reman engine installed, not so good to have them troubleshoot something out of the ordinary.
 

thomasvandyke

New member
Did I mention this was a 1983.5, 1.9L automatic with 183,000 miles on the chassis (30,000 on factory reman)? The right rear axle was the source of the "mystery noise" referred to in last post but the left rear axle went out 3,000 miles later at 3AM on Highway 99 near Delano. We made it to Oxnard before it became evident we couldn't drive any further and spent two days behind Oxnard Auto Clinic on Oxnard Avenue waiting for the new axle. Now WSSBXR (CA personalize plates) has two new ones. I think it was my fault for not having the bearings packed when I bought WSSRBXR. The shop cleaned and repacked the front bearings lest we have the same problem and it's like skating on a set of sharp blades--big difference! Any thoughts on mileage limits for bearing packs? I find no reference for this in Bentley's.
 

linus

New member
I thought my problem was strange, but it sounds like several people have had the same. I have a 1990 Westy, manual, with 152,000 mi. On a recent trip from Oklahoma to California, Somewhere in New Mexico I began to hear a clunking noise from the rear end (I think). The noise is related to vehicle speed, and is a loud clunk with each rotation. I also have a slight vibration in the steering wheel at highway speeds, but I think that may come from newly purchased ill-balanced tires. When accelerating from a stop, there is an initial "clun-clunk!" and then a "clunk... clunk..clunk.clunk.clunk" as I accelerate. The noise also happens in reverse. The transmission fluid is full/good and shifts fine. Both rear wheels have the same amount of play when up on a jack, but the right has a slight scraping noise for half of a turn and is slightly more difficult to turn. The noise gets louder when I accelerate. It completely goes away when I disengage the clutch (!!).
I was almost certain it was the right rear brake, until I realized it went away with the clutch. I had to get to my new job in California, so I signed up for AAA and sweated out the last 1,000 miles. The noise went away for a few minutes while driviing in the city once, but otherwise has been vey loud under load, and moderately loud while coasting in gear.
I haven't had time to take it to a shop yet... and I'd like to try to figure out the origin before taking it in. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks,
B. Hergert
 

Top