Loud, tire rotation speed buzzing from front/right part of LC

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Jan 12, 2015
Clarksville, Tennessee
So, I just purchased a 1996 Land Cruiser with open diffs and developed a loud, tire rotation speed buzzing noise from the front of the car, more towards the right last week in San Diego. Took it to a shop, he diagnosed it as a broken Birfield and replaced it. 300 miles later, driving only on the highway, it developed the same noise, after a short rest stop, at 35 mph. I immediately pulled it over and had it towed to a shop, which is closed for the weekend.

I'm not familiar with AWD vehicles or the dreaded Birfield joint, but I suspect this is bearing noise. The mechanic in San Diego did mention that the vehicle had a stiff u-joint on the transfer case drive shaft.

What think the collected wisdom of this forum?

Pull the front driveshaft and lock the center diff, if buzz goes away it's shaft, to see if your bearings are loose rock the tire at 12 and 6 clock see if there is significant movement, birfs usually click on tight turns unless you have absolutely no grease in them
On your 96, you can't lock the center diff without putting it in 4-Low, unless an aftermarket switch was added. That's the "CDL Mod" a lot of folks mention in their signature line, and this is an example of why they did the mod. It's a mod I plan. Most likely with the switch found here. https://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/80-series-cdl-switch-30-shipped.796004/
120mm: you can lock the Center Differential Lock (CDL) by first starting the truck and pulling the transfer case shift lever into Lo. When you do this two orange dash lights should come on, ABS and Diff Lock, and stay on. Once you have confirmed those lights are on then turn the truck off, remove the Diff Lock fuse from the dash fuse panel located to the left of the steering column, then put the transfer case lever back into Hi. By removing the fuse to the motor that drives the CDL it will stay in the locked position until you replace the fuse. With the CDL locked you can drive the truck with either driveshaft removed. Never drive the truck with a driveshaft removed unless the CDL is first locked.
Did the mechanic actually show you the broken Birfield and do you have a receipt for the new one? To me it sounds like you might have been scammed or the problem misdiagnosed. You should find someone that has experience repairing Land Cruisers. I would suggest you post your actual location so someone can suggest a good shop or mechanic.
he brought it to the Spa :D
I'd be curious how much the "replacement birf" repair cost. List on a new birf (just the part) is over $850. With labor and everything it'd be over $1k I'm sure. If that's way out of line with what he charged, there's probably some monkey business going on.
Please share the diagnose, I have very similar problem. thx.
First of all; all credit goes to Tools R Us and inkpot for pulling my tender chestnuts from the fire. Also kudos to DSRTRDR and Kernal, as well as everyone else who offered suggestions as well as references to Tools R Us' shop.

To summarize, I bought this 1996 Land Cruiser using a friend to scout it out and make the deal. I flew here from Iowa and picked up the car, and after a week of working with my friend, we drove it to San Diego for business meetings.

On the way up Coronado bridge, all hell broke loose in the front right knuckle. Since we were staying in Little Italy, we had it towed to a downtown place with a decent Yelp rating called Griffin's Auto Service. Remember this name, friends, because they go beyond mere casual incompetence or ripping people off, to near criminal negligence and price gouging/lying about service to straight out crookedness.

I do not have pictures yet, but Tools R Us documented everything.

Bottom line, Griffin's Auto Service charged me $2400 to replace a single Birfield, which they installed so poorly it was epic. All sorts of sizes of bolts were put in holes, some of which were merely riding loose in there. Studs were left broken off inside the knuckle, the brake caliper was also just riding loose on the disk, with two undersized bolts just pinning it in place, combined with the brake line tension. The front diff was nearly bone dry. There was no, and I mean NO grease in the knuckle. The only lube was a thin coating of red engine assembly lube where the birfield flat spots are. The brand new birfiled had been clamped in a vice, scoring the surface that rides on the seal with 1/8" deep scoring. The bronze bearing was free spinning in the spindle and had protruded 1/4" into the knuckle.


The amazing thing is not that this vehicle made it 300 miles in this condition without a complaint until it stopped being drivable. It's that Kevin and Dave took their Saturday to help me out. They carefully disassembled everything, found the laundry list of wrongness the other guys did, and rescued the new and old parts through their mechanical knowledge and skill. And they made sure I was educated about this vehicle throughout the process and tolerated my nosy behavior and stories.

Monday I return and we will make sure that everything is sound, and possibly get a new knuckle, because the mechanics had fudged this one up so badly in their "repairs".

Even though the current fix is permanent, it's nice to drive a car that has fluid in the diff, grease in the knuckles and all the bolts in the front wheel assembly.

I really appreciate how great these guys are. And how much help I received from the IH8Mud community!
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good to hear it worked out :cheers:

BTW, inkpot = John
$2400@!!!!! Holy s***. Glad Kevin and John are great mudders and pulled you outta your situation quickly with quality.
Sorry but you have to go back to that shop and raise hell.
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$2400@!!!!! Holy ****. Glad Kevin and John are great murders and pulled you outta your situation quickly with quality.
Sorry but you have to go back to that shop and raise hell.

:lol: Yeah, those guys are murders ;)

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