Grinding noise/severe power loss. Bearing or Transfer Case??

Discussion in 'Drivetrain Tech' started by Mattio, Aug 10, 2012.

  1. Mattio

    Mattio New Member

    Ok, so I have this issue with my 98 Ford Ranger Supercab 4x4 and I have received different opinions from different mechanics and I don't know which one to believe.

    I recently bought the truck and had put about 200 miles on it. I was driving for about 40 minutes (in 2WD) before it happened and was on the highway doing 65 when it first occurred. The engine sounded like it was running rough or there was some grinding going on somewhere in the drivetrain. I pulled off the highway and as soon as I came to a stop, the noise stopped. I revved up the engine while in park and it didn't come back. I was then able to drive the second half of my trip with no issues.

    The next day, I was again driving for about 40 minutes and on the highway when it came back, except worse and there was significant power loss (unable to do over 20 mph). The sound seemed to be coming from the bottom center of the engine. I pulled off and put it in park and revved up the engine in park with no strange noises and it ran fine. However, this time when I started driving it came right back. I figured it to be a transmission issue because it felt like it was stuck between gears or something so I tried driving in second gear. The grinding continued. I then tried driving in first gear and I was able to get the truck home with no issues (, however, I obviously had to take the side roads and keep it to 30 mph max.)

    I brought it to AAMCO and they weren't able to look at the truck until the next day. They were unable to duplicate the problem but they listened and thought there was a problem with the left front bearing. I had to again drive the truck for 40 min to get the same sound and power loss to come back and it again didn't start until I got on the highway, but this time continued afterwards regardless of whether I drove it in first gear or not... I got the mechanic to get in the truck once I had it doing it again and he still thought it was the front left bearing even though the sound seemed to be coming from the bottom center of the engine. When we got back to the shop, another mechanic took a stethoscope to the transfer case and there was a continuous slight clicking noise that came from it (he let me listen to it). They disagreed on whether the issue was the bearing or the transfer case. At this point, I decided to take my business elsewhere and am undecided on whether I'm going to tackle this myself and do my own work or bring it to our trusted family mechanic. Neither issue that they pointed out seems to explain the main problem unless those parts are good at 'throwing' their sounds, because neither part is located where the sound seems to be coming from...

    Any help is greatly appreciated!!!


    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
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  3. Hooligan

    Hooligan Rangerholic!!

    I have to say you have an issue with the transfer case due to that loss of power. I myself am not too familiar with them but if they are pointing out a hub bearing, I have blown both of mine but never lost power. Tcase could be something you can tackle yourself. They run pretty cheap at junkyards to just swap out.
  4. OP

    Mattio New Member

    Thanks, man. The repair manual says to put the truck on jackstands to replace the transfer case.. Is this really necessary? Is it just to make more room to work or is it a safety thing? Seems like I'd be able to get under there without jacking it up...
  5. Hooligan

    Hooligan Rangerholic!!

    If you feel you have enough clearance, you dont really need to jack it up. You should use a jack to lower it out and raise a new one up. Is your truck stock, lifted etc?
  6. Freemans 00

    Freemans 00 Active Member

    its always a safety thing, but it will also give you more room.
  7. Hooligan

    Hooligan Rangerholic!!

  8. Freemans 00

    Freemans 00 Active Member

    ^ now thats awesome id buy one just because its been in there hands and have them autograph it
  9. OP

    Mattio New Member

    That's not a bad deal!!! Thanks for pointing that out!

    I don't think the truck was lifted at any point. It sat about 6 inches higher than another Ranger 4x4 I was parked next to.. I don't know if it's because of the trim level. Forgive my ignorance, I've only been a Ranger owner for a couple days now...
  10. OP

    Mattio New Member

    Also, is there no chance that the issue is with the automatic transmission?
  11. Hooligan

    Hooligan Rangerholic!!

    post some pics of the truck or make a garage so we can see it

    There is a chance, but by going with what you are describing I am leaning toward the T-case.
  12. Freemans 00

    Freemans 00 Active Member

    I rather buy a transfer case over a new transmission.
  13. OP

    Mattio New Member

    Update. Turns out it's the transfer case

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