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TSB 03-05-99

Axle Diagnosis

Page 1 - Verify the Condition

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Note: See also MasterTech issue #10 October 1999 for more tips

Date: Sep. 24,1999

models: 1999 - 2000 WJ Grand Cherokee


This bulletin involves the diagnosis of the vehicle axle.  


A sound may appear to be coming from the general area of the vehicle axle(s). The sound may be described as a growl, a howl, or a whine. They may occur at different vehicle or engine speeds. They may also occur during different axle loading conditions, i.e. light driving, heavy driving, float, cruise, or coast.  


A correct and thorough diagnosis of the axle condition is perhaps the most important tool that the technician has in effecting a successful axle service. Because the transmission of an axle-like sound may be due to vehicle components other than the axle, a good diagnostic procedure is necessary in determining if the condition can be corrected by service to the internal axle components. Proper diagnosis may lead the technician to vehicle components other than the axle.

  A systematic diagnostic approach must be used to diagnosis, analyze, and repair any axle sound. The systematic diagnostic approach involves six steps: verify the condition, verify related symptoms, analyze the symptoms, isolate the condition, repair the condition, and verify the service.


1).    Road test the vehicle with the customer to verify the driving environment and whether the condition is present. If a road test with the customer is not possible, then contact the customer and service writer. Obtain a detailed description of the condition and record this information. The customer should be questioned in detail to assist the technician in determining the exact driving conditions and environment that the customer states the condition is present. If no sound is present during your road test, then return the vehicle to the service advisor or customer. If an axle-like sound is present, then continue with your diagnosis.

Questions to ask the vehicle customer:
a). Condition description: a sound (a high pitched whine, a low frequency growl, or a cyclic howl), a vibration, or other related symptoms.
b). Condition of occurrence: is it constant or intermittent.
c). Vehicle description: engine speed, vehicle speed, load, temperature, maneuver.
d). Environment: ambient temperature, wet or dry road, smooth or rough road.

2).    Verify that all tires are inflated properly, are not damaged, are designed for the vehicle, are the correct size, and all four tires are the same. Inspect the wheels in like manner.
3).    A thorough road test of the vehicle axle will involve different drive modes and is most effective when the axles are at normal operating temperatures. While performing the road test, evaluate the vehicle using the following subjective rating system and sound description type. Enter your subjective rating along with the respective type of sound in the corresponding drive mode box.


Subjective Rating System:

Drive Mode:

Type Of Axle Sound:

Drive Mode 25 to 35 mph
Subjective rating and type sound
35 to 45 mph
Subjective rating and type sound
45 to 55 mph
Subjective rating and type sound
55 to 65 mph
Subjective rating and type sound
65+ mph
Subjective rating and type sound
Light drive
Heavy Drive
Turns Engine RPM
Engine RPM

4).    Road test the vehicle to obtain the necessary data to complete the Subjective Rating and Type Sound form above. Record on the form your subjective rating and the type sound that may be of concern. Record on the form if the noise is affected by vehicle turns (axle loading). If the sound is affected by engine speed, record the type sound and the engine speed.

Road Test Procedure:

a). Turn off the vehicle radio.
b). Set the HVAC control to FLOOR mode and blower speed to mid level.
c). Obtain target speed through light acceleration.
d). Float the throttle so the vehicle is neither accelerating nor decelerating.
e). Accelerate rapidly 1 0 mph higher than target speed without causing a downshift.
f). Coast back down to target speed.
g). Cruise by holding the throttle to maintain target speed.
h). Turn the steering wheel left and right.
i). Repeat this road test procedure for each set of target speeds.

5).    Continue with the DIAGNOSIS if the condition is present. If the condition is not present or the subjective ratings are greater than a "7" (Good / Noticeable to critical observer), then return the vehicle to the customer with an explanation of your evaluation.

6).    If the condition is changed by engine speed, then the sound is related to the engine, transmission, transfer case, exhaust, etc.


Page 1 - Verify the condition

Page 2 - Verify and Analyze Symptoms

Page 3 - Isolate the condition

Page 4 - Repair the condition, verify repair

Thanks to Bob Bergevin for supplying the TSB information



Last Update: October 25, 1999