I just got my truck yesterday and was wondering if someone could help me out. While engaging the 4wd (1996 dakota sport V6) there is this grinding/clunking noise. The transfer case is leaking some around the tail shaft and I think that that could be the problem. The previous owner drove it with two different sized tires and my dad thinks that this could have messed up something. The truck will go into 4wd fine, and while going straight it will usually be ok. While turning you can hear this grinding in a gear somewhere. If this is the transfer case, can I use a case from any Dakota of this generation? Does it have to be a manual tranny V6? I know that there could be a thousand different things, where should I start? Could it be the axles?
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Location: Sycamore, Illinois (displaced to Arkansas)
RE: Needed help with clunking noise while in 4WD
When you say, "While turning you can hear this grinding in a gear somewhere," are you turning while on a non-slippery surface? Because you shouldn't be in 4WD (especially while turning, and especially if turning hard) unless on a slipperly surface (muddy, icy, snowy, or very wet).
Being in 4WD (especially while turning) while on a non-slippery surface can put extra stress on (or destroy) parts. The reasons being is there has to be some "give" in the system.
About the fluid: check to see if the fluid level is overfilled. The fill plug is located close to the center of the case, about half-way up. I don't remember what size socket it takes, but it was pretty big size. The correct fluid level is just at the bottom of the fill plug. The vent could also be closed/block, or the seals are bad or installed wrong (lip on seal should face interior of case).
Also, the correct fluid is ATF.
If parts ain't flyin', you ain't tryin'.
1996 Dodge Dakota, 4x4, extended cab, 3.9L, automatic. - my baby
2012 VW Jetta Premium with Nav, 2.0L TDI diesel, 6-speed manual - the daily
Traded: 2009 Toyota Corolla S, 1.8L, 5-speed manual
I was not turning hard at all while on dry pavement. Actually, the slightest turn of the wheel was causing this noise. It was a loud clunking noise that would sometimes happen even going straight, like two gears were not aligned correctly. I went forward and backward while in 4wd and it still did it. I was at an Auto Zone and the guy that worked there said it sounded like a transfer case issue. Maybe the chain was slapping around in there. Before I go replacing parts, I was hoping that there was maybe one part that gave this type of problem or was the "weak link." I just dont want to start throwing money at it until it gets fixed. I know that it engaged in four wheel drive, but what was making that noise, I dont know. If it is the transfer case, what has to match up in terms of transmission types, gear ratio, etc? It seems harder to find a manual tranny V6 transfer case.
My 94 does the same thing. It is better when on gravel.. It seems to do it on pavement. I'm not sure if it is normal for the dodge 4WD to do this. I have had many other 4x4's and they never clunked. I am very curious to see if anyone else has had this issue and what the cure was.. Or, I would like to know if it's normal. My truck has 150K on it so I assume that it is gonna be something worn out. I just got it so I need to do some investigating and see how all the u-joints are and see what the CV joints look like... I think it could also be a hub acting funny.
I am going to take the cover off of the front differential and drain all of the oil out of the case and check for metal shavings with a magnet. I think that by doing this, I can pretty much eliminate everything but the transfer case itself. At this point, I am only concerned with having to replace expensive parts. After that, I am going to pull the transfer case this weekend and pull off the cover to see what is going on in there. I flushed out the case and found no metal shavings, and put in new ATF, but the thing stayed the same with the same noise level. The noise that I am talking about is pretty loud and will make you think twice about leaving it in 4WD. We also have a 4wd Ranger, and it sounds nothing like this at all. I am hoping that it is just a chain or something that needs to be replaced inside of the case. From the sound of it, I think that a gear is busted in there though. I will let you know what is going on as soon as I find out. BTW, my truck only has 112k on it, so mileage may not be a factor and the grind is there even while going straight.
I assume that there is a chain tensioner of some sort in the x-fer case. If that fails, it will certainly skip across teeth on the gears. That is what it feels like mine is doing.
Please keep me posted on what you find.
I would appreciate it.
Will do, I am hoping to get a general assessment of health on my T case so that maybe the next person wont have to go through all of this and can just read this post. I will let you know what I find tomorrow with the front differential. The way that I see it, I can replace an axle, bushing, or hub much cheaper than the other parts, especially that t case...
I have been checking out some pics of the NP231 x-fer case. There is not a tensioner that I can see. The chain is pretty thick and I don't think that it could slip. I believe it would start slapping pretty loud before slipping.
I am really leaning toward the hubs as the problem. My truck makes a ticking sound when in 2wd that is coming from up fornt somewhere. It might be an unrelated sound but, it's worth investigation.
if its happening while turning and clickeing in 2 wheel drive it sounds like the cv joints to me. never had that problem, but ive been told thats how you know they are going. they would be louder while in 4 wheel drive and accelerating i would think.
That's the real problem for me, it only does it while engaged in 4WD. Otherwise, you would not know it was there. That is what is teling me that it is probably related to the transfer case or front differential. I get out of college soon, so I will know something today.
Just pulled the case off of the differential and watched the gears move while the truck rolled forward and backward about ten feet. There was no metal shavings in the oil, but someone had been in there before me. When the truck was rolling forward, I would stop and inspect the gears to check for chips and cracks. There were no signs of any of these problems. After looking at this, I am convinced that the transfer case is the culprit. I am probably going to take the transfer case off this weekend and pull the cover off and see what is happening. At least its not the gears in the differential. Does anyone have a good source for transfer cases?
You might want to take a look at the hubs before diving into the transfer case. They are the auto locking type and I would not have too much confidence in them.
I'm not sure if there is a manual locking type to replace them with. That is the way I am gonna go with my clunk.
Also try putting it on gravel and see if the clunking gets better or goes away. If it goes away we have the exact same issue.
I just don't want top see you do more than you need to while trying to fix it.
I think you will need some pullers to get the case apart. Unless you are tooled up to do so it might get fustrating real fast.
Where are you located? I kinda wish we could work together on this one.
OK.. upon further evaluation. I was just playing around with my truck. It seems all the clunking is coming from the transfer case area.. It might be the shaft but, when I twist the forward shaft it rotates about 30 degrees and makes a kinda clunk inside the case when I twist it hard. there has to be something going on inside the case.
I had a someone shift btwn D and R while I watched the driveshaft. It seemed to engage then twist back then go back forward and give the hard clunk. Almost like it had resistance to start then went past something holding it then hit something solid. It acted like an internal gear might be lose on the shaft and then binds up.
I hope that it is something simple, but I fear a rebuilt case might be in the future.
I'm pretty sure you will find something inside the case if we have identical issues.
I believe that we are on the same page. My noise is coming from the front, so it could be the hub. Since it is the transfer case that is leaking, I think that is where the issues are. How hard would it be to pull the hub out? The transfer case is not that bad aside from the weight. I can tell you that there is no amount of gravel that will fix this problem. You can clearly hear gears clunking around where they should not be. This is not like the "grabbing" that happens while turning in 4WD, this is a bad noise. The real fun is going to be finding a transfer case for under 500 bucks...
Like I said in the second post last night, I think the xfer case is the issue.
The way I determined this is, engage the low range so you get a good clunk. Have someone in the seat shifting btwn D and R while you watch the CV joint (turn the wheels so you can see it easier).
If you don't see the CV joint moving while going from D to R it is not gonna be the hub or the CV or the diff. Make sure the person in the seat is holding the brakes tight so it don't roll.
When I tried this last night I could see the forward drive shaft moving quite a bit. The noise was definitely coming out of the case. It makes more noise while in low range. I also saw the rear shaft moving some, but I think that is just the rear u-joints.
I have been searching around for a case to put in my truck. I have found a 3.9 equipped 1990 Dakota that is being parted out. I'm not sure if it will work in my transmission. I'm pretty sure the cases are all the same. The NP231 is a real common case so, it will not be too hard to source one. You might be in over $500 for a rebuild. The best bet is getting one from a salvage yard.
take it out and apart,it most likely needs a chain in it,its not brain sugery to replace the chain,the chain turns all the time on a 231 case,and high miles equals a worn chain,with all for wheels of of the ground,put the case in netrual and rock the front and rear shafts back and forth,lots of play equals a worn chain
I am going to be doing the same thing. I was wondering since the chain turns all of the time, why does it only make this noise while in 4WD? I am just thinking out loud, I am 99% sure that my problem is in the transfer case. I found someone that will do this for about 350 for a complete rebuild.
If you listen close while in 2wd you might hear the chain slapping as you roll. At least mine does. It is definitely loose.
The chain is gonna cost me $77 and change from a local shop.
I have been told it can be done without taking the case out of the truck also. I am gonna test the theory and report back to you all.
Going to go buy my chain tonight. Wish me luck for the weekend.
I'll try to take pics of the job so 1st gen owners might be able to do it themselves and save some coin.