Rear Diff....again?....really? - Hemi Truck Club
 
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:37 PM   #1
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Rear Diff....again?....really?

I haven't been around much but I have to turn to the experts, again, for some much needed advice.

My 2003 1500 SLT began whining from the rear end two and a half years ago. Ended up being the pinion issue. Had a rebuilt rear end installed for big coin.

It has started again. At least it sounds like the same noise that I remember from the last time. I can't throw another $3k at this truck. I love the thing, but it's now getting long in the tooth and I don't know that a major investment in the rear diff, again, is a wise decision given it's age and current condition.

Reasons I'm concerned about sinking significant cash into this truck....

- Engine life at 151k mi. It's eating about .25 quarts of oil a month. I had one valve spring go about 60k mi ago and am waiting for more - I hear it's a problem.

- Rust. I have the legendary rear wheel well rot, pretty bad. The tailgate and rear bumper are also kind of rough. The rest still looks nice and I still love looking at the nice metallic grey from the right angle.

- Exhaust. The tailpipe fell off last week. While that, in and of itself is not so bad, I'm just wondering how long until the rest falls out.

- Random issues. The driver's seat is torn up at the metal bracket as they usually are. I've read a good fix on it, but again, more time and money. Other small interior crap - sun visor, driver's side A pillar handle, sliding rear window latch.

I still want to like the thing, but it's stretching my patience, and my wallet. I'm curious if there are any reasonable <$1k solutions to this issue, or if I'm perhaps jumping the gun on the diagnosis. I may be freaking myself out reading about multiple rear diff failures on these trucks.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-14-2016, 11:00 PM   #2
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Sounds like you haven't kept the old girl up and now you have accumulated a list of things that need fixing. IMO, fixing a vehicle you already own is always cheaper than buying a used replacement that will have its own set of problems. And then there is buying a new vehicle which is easier if you don't mind the price tag. A rebuilt Axle is around $1200 plus the the labor of install. Paying a shop to install new bearings should be around $600. If you already have the tools and do it yourself it should be the price of bearings and fluid around $300. As they say, pick your poison. Good luck..
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:09 AM   #3
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I agree on the less expensive option of putting money into a vehicle you already own. Even with throwing another rebuilt rear end into it at $3k, it's still cheaper than finding another truck. And yes, there's no telling what problems another used vehicle will present.

I'm just torn on what may be around the corner on this one.

Sorry, I'm not a mechanic. By 'rebuilt axle' do you mean the entire rear end? Also, I don't have the tools, but a friend has many. Are we talking about rebuilding the entire rear diff? Way above my pay grade, but might be approachable with my buddy's help....and some beer.

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Sounds like you haven't kept the old girl up and now you have accumulated a list of things that need fixing.
As stated I'm not a mechanic, but I have paid attention to regular maintenance items....

- Regular oil changes. Regular transmission service. Spark plug & wire change. Transfer case and rear diff fluid changes. Shocks, brakes, and other items as they came up.

I don't believe the issues I brought up were preventable with traditional regular maintenance; springs, oil consumption, rust, interior wear (well, I suppose I could loose 50 lbs and lessen the wear on the seat )

Bottom line is I want to continue to love this truck, but the factors mentioned above are making it hard....at least for a guy that is not adept at 'cracking the pumpkin' and finding out what really is going on.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 03-15-2016, 04:58 AM   #4
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I would say get a new ring and pinion along with a new bearing kit for the rear and change it all out. Parts will be around $300 range like stated the labor is the ? Part free for you but it's kinda tricky of you never don't it or $600 range like stated if need someone to do it.
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Old 03-15-2016, 10:09 AM   #5
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Your post states you threw $3K into a stock OEM rear Whatever you do if you keep the truck forget the OEM crap differential and do the upgrade - it will be cheaper than $3K and last for the life of your truck...


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Old 03-15-2016, 06:09 PM   #6
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Whatever you do if you keep the truck forget the OEM crap differential and do the upgrade - it will be cheaper than $3K and last for the life of your truck...


Thank you for the input.

Can you describe what you mean in particular when you reference "the upgrade"? Is that just better parts, or a specific change to the rear end, such as the gear ratios I keep reading about here?

Your last comment is what has me concerned. I just don't know how much life is left in the truck. I know the concerns I listed above can be fixed. Everything can if you throw enough money at it. Just not sure, with limited resources, if that's a tree I want to start climbing.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:10 PM   #7
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Like a true track locker with new gears and what not rather than OEM crap
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Old 03-15-2016, 08:16 PM   #8
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I believe the OP said it's a 4wd, so changing gears would be expensive. Now depending on if he has a limited slip or open differential he could use a lunch box, DTT or Auburn. And any of these still run over $500. A master install kit and wheel seals which don't come with the master install kit will run around $200. If he uses his current ring and pinion he won't have to compute pinion shims and just change bearings and set the ring tooth pattern. He'll need the bearing collar tool, dial indicator, both inch and ft/lb torque wrenches and a yoke tool to torque the crush ring. IMO, all this is a good deal if he can do the work himself, but that is unlikely with what he has said. So a shop will probably hit him up for something like $450 for labor and be done in 3 hours if he takes his time. A salvage yard axle flange to flange will be around $800-$1000 and he is still sitting on a problem waiting to happen and that would be if he can find a matching gear ratio.. The OP also mentioned he had a valve spring failure and if I understood him correctly he only had one spring replaced. If the OP is unable to do the work himself or have someone to help him out I'm afraid it's going to be a rough road ahead. ..... good luck..
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Old 03-15-2016, 10:46 PM   #9
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The OP also mentioned he had a valve spring failure and if I understood him correctly he only had one spring replaced. If the OP is unable to do the work himself or have someone to help him out I'm afraid it's going to be a rough road ahead. ..... good luck..
You've hit my concern on the head. The rest of the drive train.

I've lived with the interior issues for a while, and can fix those as needed.

The rust is concerning as it makes the truck look like **** and I'm not about to sink $2k per side of the bed to re-skin them (at least that's what I've read in the past regarding totally and correctly fixing the issue).

The trans was rebuilt at about 100k. Transfer case seems solid, and there doesn't seem to be widely reported problems with it. So I'm fairly confident on those components.

The engine is a concern. I know engines can eat oil at a certain age and I can deal with that. The spring issue is a problem, as you indicate. It sounds like it's just a matter of time.

Bottom line is it sounds like I'd be throwing roughly $1k, or just under, at the diff, with a roughly equal amount at springs in the near future....just to keep a truck with rusting exterior bed panels.

I wish I didn't like the design and performance of this thing so much. I really do like it's curves, even more than later models. Not a knock on newer Rams, just personal preference.
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:25 AM   #10
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The 6.1 valve Springs I believe are around $85 now. You will need the install tool which can be found used around $100 or new at $185. Seals around $25. Will need an air compressor and spark plug fitting. This can be done with the heads on and takes a long afternoon to change them out.
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