*slightly* bent front axle housing (1 Viewer)

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Hi Guys, after a marathon maintenance session at home, I ran out of time and took my 80 to the shop to finish up. In going through my front axle (bad leak at the pinion seal and 3rd member gasket), they have come to the conclusion that my front axle is bent, they say maybe 1/4". I would be surprised if it was that much--no noticeable camber, unusual tire wear or anything visually out-of-the-ordinary. My truck was in a front end collision before I bought it, so it wouldn't surprise me if it was a little bent. They are trying to sell me on a whole new axle, brake to brake, which they can procure, but is way more than I was prepared to spend. Can't find any used locked housings at the moment.

Is there anything fundamentally terrible about running a with bent housing for a while? Keep in mind, I have been happily wheeling, road tripping, pulling a camper and doing home depot duty in this truck for the last 35k miles. Would it be stupid to instruct them to just put it back together and deal with this problem on my own time/dime with a used axle?

They are also saying that sometimes when it's bent they can pull the axle apart (shafts and 3rd), but then not be able to get it back together. This sounds a little bit like hogwash to me. I have done a knuckle/birf service and didn't have any trouble removing the shafts and poking them back in.

I trust the abilities of the mechanic working on it, but not necessarily the shop's profit motivations (dealing primarily with the "front desk guy," not the mechanic). Hoping to get over there and get a closer look tomorrow, but if anyone has any thoughts on the matter feel free to chime in.
 

BlueCruiser84

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Well I’m not a perfectionist so take it as you will. If you’ve put 35k miles on it without issue then I’d keep on keeping on until you find a locked housing to swap out.

This assumes a tiny bend and no cracks or other safety issues.
 
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I think your biggest issue would be going through axle oil seals quickly. Unless it's a really bad bend, you're probably fine to run with it.
 
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Hi Guys, after a marathon maintenance session at home, I ran out of time and took my 80 to the shop to finish up. In going through my front axle (bad leak at the pinion seal and 3rd member gasket), they have come to the conclusion that my front axle is bent, they say maybe 1/4". I would be surprised if it was that much--no noticeable camber, unusual tire wear or anything visually out-of-the-ordinary. My truck was in a front end collision before I bought it, so it wouldn't surprise me if it was a little bent. They are trying to sell me on a whole new axle, brake to brake, which they can procure, but is way more than I was prepared to spend. Can't find any used locked housings at the moment.

Is there anything fundamentally terrible about running a with bent housing for a while? Keep in mind, I have been happily wheeling, road tripping, pulling a camper and doing home depot duty in this truck for the last 35k miles. Would it be stupid to instruct them to just put it back together and deal with this problem on my own time/dime with a used axle?

They are also saying that sometimes when it's bent they can pull the axle apart (shafts and 3rd), but then not be able to get it back together. This sounds a little bit like hogwash to me. I have done a knuckle/birf service and didn't have any trouble removing the shafts and poking them back in.

I trust the abilities of the mechanic working on it, but not necessarily the shop's profit motivations (dealing primarily with the "front desk guy," not the mechanic). Hoping to get over there and get a closer look tomorrow, but if anyone has any thoughts on the matter feel free to chime in.
I've driven on a bent axle housing font and rear in a 69 Chevy with Eaton rear axle housing and Dana 44 front housing, rear being a semi-float.

I had about 3/4" drop in the center (of BOTH axle housings) determined by running a string line THROUGH the housing, outside each end, centered on the outer spindle, then measured in the center through the carrier. (I jumped a railroad bridge, we bounced HARD 3 times......Think "The Fall Guy".....)

I drove with the front that way for a few thousand miles, I left the front hubs unlocked (because once I locked them I couldn't unlock due to binding) and I did not engage the 4WD. The rear axle broke an axle shaft in about 800 miles and I had to replace the housing because even though the axle went in, it flexed with each rotation and fatigued quickly. I didn't have time to replace the front housing, so I drove it that way for about 18 months until I got time to change it.

On a Toyota front end, you COULD leave out the front birfields, place a rubber freeze plug in the seal hole in each end of the axle to keep the gear oil in it, install the knuckles, hub seals, and repack the bearings, maybe fill the birfield cavity with grease just to keep out water and whatever from your front wheel bearings, and drive with your CDL locked. Leave the front driveshaft off as well.
 
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Bent axles can put a bunch of pressure on your differential causing wear and possible breakage. I think its possible to mod a open housing to fit a elocker if you had too. I wouldn't drive it a bunch personally, or try different ways of running in 2wd until I could get another housing or un-bend the old one.
 
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Bent housings can be straightened... @inkpot

If you were able to R&R the axle shafts, then there isn't any undue stress on anything. You may find that one or both axle seals don't last very long, but it's doubtful that you'll do any damage to the diff or other hard parts.
 
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Clovis, CA
You can also track down a housing that is straight. Swap the third member over. Another option is a manual hub conversion. Only the outer wheel bearings and seals will receive wear.
 

nukegoat

Should have bought a Jeep
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Axle shaft splines will wear differently and be more fragile. Slightly, though, because the birf floats a bit
 
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Previous thread with photos:

 
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Update: went to the shop to look at it on the lift. Looking right down the tube, it looked straight to me. Not saying the shop was lying, but my eyeballs could not detect any problem. Hard to say for sure with the 3rd out. Another 80 in the shop had a catastrophically bent housing, which caused the same 3rd member leak I had, so maybe they just had bent housing on the brain or were being overly cautious. Going to button it back up and run it.

Also verified the "broken radiator nipple" they told me I had was just a cheap hose clamp on my brand new radiator that I was very careful not to break the nipple on. Didn't have time to test for leaks before bringing it in.

Qualified shops are hard to find, which I believe this one is, but maybe these guys are seeing dollar signs 🤑
 
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I would seriously start doing your own maintenance and not take it back to that shop. If they are diagnosing bent axle housings and busted radiators that in fact are not bad.. run away from that shop.
 
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I do my own maintenance for the most part. I generally muddle through and do an OK job. I don't enjoy it. Problem in this case was time--I bit off more than I could chew, needed to get the 80 out of the garage, had large amounts of real work coming up.

I'm hopefully moving soon to a location where I can leave the truck for longer periods. Next time I get ambitious and want to tackle a pile of projects like this, I may just buy a cheap pickup to serve "truck duty" while the 80 is down so I'm not pressured to finish in a certain time period.
 
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The leaks I was actually trying to address in this go-round was the 3rd member gasket and pinion seal. I do have the good ol' high mileage groove in my axle shafts, and I did overdrive the seal last time I did the job. I instructed the shop to do the same, but really no clue whether they will. Probably not so they can try to sell me new axle shafts :hillbilly:
 
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Tucson AZ
I do my own maintenance for the most part. I generally muddle through and do an OK job. I don't enjoy it. Problem in this case was time--I bit off more than I could chew, needed to get the 80 out of the garage, had large amounts of real work coming up.

I'm hopefully moving soon to a location where I can leave the truck for longer periods. Next time I get ambitious and want to tackle a pile of projects like this, I may just buy a cheap pickup to serve "truck duty" while the 80 is down so I'm not pressured to finish in a certain time period.

Once I did not need the 80 for daily driving duty my enjoyment of working on it went up 100000%. No stress, I can walk away if I'm tired or things are not going to plan. I can spend more time on cleaning or painting. I don't have to anticipate every single part to get a job done over the weekend, find a worn spindle I can just order it and finish it next weekend with no stress.
 

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