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2014 WK2
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok so not my first rodeo with a blown or damaged diff, but the first time on this vehicle and the first time I've been told I can't have it rebuilt. I have a 2014 ecodiesel, limited, 2.5" or so suspension lift, 32.5" Wildpeaks on 18" rims. I checked out the underside of the vehicle after hearing a light grinding noise when starting from a dead stop and then braking while either towing our 6k lbs travel trailer or driving offroad and uphill. I found some gear oil leakage and some grease around the passenger's side shaft coming out of my front diff. Dealer confirmed that the diff is leaking gear oil and thinks that the extension housing bearing is damaged, hence the occasional grinding. The driveshaft boot on that side is also throwing out some grease, although it is not torn and the service tech told me that I am fine to go a few weeks on it. They want to replace the passenger side axle out of caution, but as far as I understand did not see any signs of damage. See attached picture of diagnostics notes.

I'm honestly not surprised by this issue; the vehicle has 85k on it, I offroad and tow frequently, and I did a lot of challenging snowy trails last winter. I am surprised that the dealer is insisting that they cannot rebuild anything inside the diff (or apparently the rear diff or transfer case if those ever had an issue). I had them do the front diff service because I'm not sure how much of the gear oil leaked out, I need it for towing next weekend, and I'm too swamped at work and with a baby at home to do it myself. The tech said that the oil out of the diff was definitely a bit less than expected, but that it was not contaminated by debris or metal shavings and overall looked good. This makes sense since I had the full 4WD service at 60k out of an abundance of caution over how roughly I use the vehicle. If I am understanding the diagnostics correctly, the issue with the diff is just with the output shaft bearings on the passenger side, and is apparently not allowing any water or debris ingress.

So, is it really true that these diffs are throwaway once damaged in any way, or is it time to contact a good transmission shop and have the failing output housing rebuilt? If the axle boot is not torn, does it maybe just need new securing clips or something? I like the service department at this dealer and believe they are honest, but they are also going to have certain restrictions put on their work by corporate and as generalists will view things a little differently than a specialty shop.
 

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Just my guess is that it’s more cost effective to just replace the unit than to rebuild (at dealer labor rates). An independent mechanic probably could do it.
 

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Just my guess is that it’s more cost effective to just replace the unit than to rebuild (at dealer labor rates). An independent mechanic probably could do it.
Hella cheaper in terms of Labor to just pull the CV axles and drop the front diff. and swap a Complete unit with proper backlash all new stuff than to piece meal and repair. It just way manufacturers are going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just my guess is that it’s more cost effective to just replace the unit than to rebuild (at dealer labor rates). An independent mechanic probably could do it.
Yeah, agree that it will likely be cheaper to replace at dealer rates, but it's still $3k for the diff and $1k for the axle. It's also the part of the diff that is having issues that makes me question this; it's an output shaft, not the main gears. The diff oil was/is clean. I'm pretty sure they have to take this damaged part off to swap in a new diff or axle anyways, so why isn't it replaceable?

In any case, going to call some transmission shops and see what they say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update on this; dealer was wrong that the axle boot was damaged. The axle is fine, but the heavy weight gear oil gets messy as soon as it is exposed to the elements, and it looks like axle grease. The first shop I went to was able to identify that.

Dealer also thought the front upper control arm ball joint bolts were loose, when in fact the balljoints needed to be replaced entirely. I have the RRO upper control arms, and it is a known thing that these eat the ball joints. So, the first shop got my ball joints replaced, raised my Bilsteins up to setting 4/4 in the front, which looks and rides great, and recommended me to a transmission shop. All for 1/2 of what the dealer wanted for replacing the (undamaged) axle alone.

The transmission shop was able to source the components to rebuild the front diff, for 1/3rd the cost the dealer wanted to replace, or even less if it just needs some bearings and none of the main components. They need to call the dealer with the VIN and confirm the gear ratio, but will be able to fix it in the next week or so.

Also, why is it with independent shops I am able to get super knowledgeable estimates for free, but if I take it to the dealer they want $200 minimum to even put it on a lift and eyeball it?
 

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Simply put mate - the dealers are bloody pirates!
Local specialist shops will usually bend over backwards to help you out and get your business, whereas dealers seem to like to rely on people who think they have to return to them for service stuff and from my experience treat you like an asshole if you question their thinking or lack of.
 

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I wouldn't trust a dealership to rebuild a differential anyway. They require precision, training and experience; something I rarely see at a Dealership service center. On top of that, you can slap a differential together improperly and get it out the door and 5k miles later it will have eaten itself alive, which they will claim you did something to make it happen.

As well, the front diff on the WK2 I'm pretty sure is a German Diff from the partnership with Daimler. It might not be serviceable in the field, either by design or servicing decision by FCA.
 

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Toyota did the same for my old 4Runner. As Mongo said, there is too much risk letting someone set up the gears. If you're out of warranty and it's determined to be gears/bearings try out a driveline shop.

Place I took my Wrangler too had a newer Charger in for work so they diffs can be rebuilt.
 

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@dmaher if yours is a 2014 Ecodiesel it has 3:45 Axle ratio...that is the only ratio the 2014 Ecodiesel's came with. I had a 2014 Ecodiesel. If you have your VIN you can check it yourself with the equipment listing website. Its a Ram link but it will pull all FCA vehicles.

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@dmaher if yours is a 2014 Ecodiesel it has 3:45 Axle ratio...that is the only ratio the 2014 Ecodiesel's came with. I had a 2014 Ecodiesel. If you have your VIN you can check it yourself with the equipment listing website. Its a Ram link but it will pull all FCA vehicles.

Thanks, appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Forgot to revisit this. I didn't get the appointment scheduled before we had our second daughter in early November, I was on paternity leave for two months and not towing or offroading, and when I did get it back to the transmission shop, they took another look at it and determined that the inner CV boot was actually leaking and that the seal to the differential was weeping a tiny bit of gear oil. The inner CV was out of grease and had a lot of contaminants in it from offroading. They also recommended against getting into the diff unless replacing the axle (you can't just do the CV's individually) didn't fix the noise. Replacing the axle fixed the noise. They also topped off the diff and told me to bring it back if it leaked with the new axle. So far so good. Cost was the new axle and an hour of labor.

Lesson learned; I shouldn't have come to that transmission shop the first time saying that my diff needed rebuilt and that the CV was not damaged. The dealer was wrong or trying to fleece me, the first shop was wrong, and bringing that jumble of information to the transmission shop didn't help. Not angry at the first shop; they're suspension and brake focused and pointed me in the direction of the specialty shop.
 
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