Rear Differential Clunking

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Mr_Maverick

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What’s up guys, I’m new here with a question about my Ram and I’m hoping for some of your wisdom. (2021 6.7 Turbo diesel 4x4)

I noticed a really loud clunking happening near the rear driver’s side wheel yesterday. It occurs when I accelerate, decelerate, and while making turns. The best description I can give is it sounds like a baseball size rock was rolling around beneath the bed of the truck clanking into things.

Upon inspection, I noticed a leak near the left side of the differential. I opened the diff cover, and while some oil came out, it was definitely lower than it should be. My plan was to replace the gasket, fill it back up and see if there’s any change. Unfortunately I have to wait for the gasket so in the meantime I’m educating myself on possibilities.

I’m not a mechanic and to be honest I don’t have much knowledge on this issue or what could be causing the loud clunking, so go easy on me. I’ve included some photos and I’m hoping someone more knowledgeable than I can take a peak.

My questions are: Does this appear to be a leak from the diff cover? If so, could low oil in the diff be causing the clunking? Also, I was headed home from a road trip and drove it this way for about an hour, did I screw things up even worse? Again, forgive my ignorance, I could really use some advice. Thanks in advance!
 

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KKBB

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What’s up guys, I’m new here with a question about my Ram and I’m hoping for some of your wisdom. (2021 6.7 Turbo diesel 4x4)

I noticed a really loud clunking happening near the rear driver’s side wheel yesterday. It occurs when I accelerate, decelerate, and while making turns. The best description I can give is it sounds like a baseball size rock was rolling around beneath the bed of the truck clanking into things.

Upon inspection, I noticed a leak near the left side of the differential. I opened the diff cover, and while some oil came out, it was definitely lower than it should be. My plan was to replace the gasket, fill it back up and see if there’s any change. Unfortunately I have to wait for the gasket so in the meantime I’m educating myself on possibilities.

I’m not a mechanic and to be honest I don’t have much knowledge on this issue or what could be causing the loud clunking, so go easy on me. I’ve included some photos and I’m hoping someone more knowledgeable than I can take a peak.

My questions are: Does this appear to be a leak from the diff cover? If so, could low oil in the diff be causing the clunking? Also, I was headed home from a road trip and drove it this way for about an hour, did I screw things up even worse? Again, forgive my ignorance, I could really use some advice. Thanks in advance!
The gasket is reusable, so you don't necessarily need a new one. From what I can see, it looks fine. Try and refill it and see what happens.
 

GTyankee

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I would be looking more at the area where the rim bolts to the axle.
Look for the same type of oily dirt, as is on the left side of the rear end pumpkin.

Clean up the area around the pumpkin, that way, you will see if it is leaking at the gasket
 

nlambert182

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I've been able to hear a little bit of an audible clunk on every Ram 2500/3500 I've owned. I assume it's normal and over the years I've gotten quite used to it. In this instance, clean it up well and refill and see if you notice any leaks. From the pics everything looks perfectly fine.
 

2003F350

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I agree with the guys above, the inside of that diff looks PRISTINE. I would re-seal and refill, and keep an eye out for leaks. Then I'd jack up the rear driver's side tire and start pushing/pulling/tapping on stuff to see if anything moves. My initial thought would be the lug nights may be slightly loose, but if you've just recently had brakes done the caliper/mounting bracket could be loose. If it's been a while since you had your brakes done, it could be that you're reaching end of stroke of the caliper pistons and your pads are getting loose (rare but I've had it happen).

Sometimes heavy duty trucks just...clunk. I had a truck that would randomly clunk when shifting from reverse to drive, it was definitely a rear-end noise, but there was nothing VISIBLY wrong anywhere, and it was completely random. Never did figure out what caused it, and never gave me any issues either.
 

crazy jerry

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reuse the gasket and be sure you tighten the bolts correctly. cross pattern ,probly with low or medium thread lock , 25ftlb or so.
if you didnt measure the drained oil then youve no idea if it was low. clunking could be a number of things. might even be normal gear slop in the trans or tcase
 

stevenP

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On my 2022, I found both my diffs were very low from the factory. I would at least check your front one to see if its also low.
 

crazy jerry

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On my 2022, I found both my diffs were very low from the factory. I would at least check your front one to see if its also low.

the rear diff oil level has a wide range that is considered acceptable. is it 10mm below the hole. +/- 10mm ? i dont have my service book in front of me but i recall something like that.
the front it seemed like there was just a qauntity range with no mention of filling to the hole or anything like that. 2.3-2.6qt ? again sorry my service book isnt in front of me.
your oil probly wasnt low. but even if it was ,its the vehicle owners responsibility to maintain the vehicle
 

stevenP

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According to to my manual they suggested the oil was supposed to be about and inch below the fill hole. Mine was very low, it took 3.5 pints in total to fill to the proper levels.
 

2003F350

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According to to my manual they suggested the oil was supposed to be about and inch below the fill hole. Mine was very low, it took 3.5 pints in total to fill to the proper levels.
I love it when manuals suggest something like that. Like...without something to see in there, how is one to know when you're an inch below the fill hole?
 

crazy jerry

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According to to my manual they suggested the oil was supposed to be about and inch below the fill hole. Mine was very low, it took 3.5 pints in total to fill to the proper levels.

you have a factory service manual and the rear it says 1" below the hole ? +/- how much ?
the front should be the same its always been as its the same axle since 2014. there was a specified qauntity. 2.3-2.6qt or something like that. does the factory manual say something different now ? and if you didnt drain and measure what was in there you wouldnt have known if it was low like you claimed
 

stevenP

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How I do it is, stick my pointer finger in the hole and bend it down. The fluid should be touching the end of my finger, which when bent at that last joint is about one inch long. In the old days they recommended that you fill till it comes out the fill port.

Of course my finger is calibrated at least once a year.
 

J-rod0912

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A possible control arm bolt could be under-torqed as well by the way you're explaining the sound. See if they are at about 250 ft lbs.
 

Tulecreeper

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I love it when manuals suggest something like that. Like...without something to see in there, how is one to know when you're an inch below the fill hole?
How I do it is, stick my pointer finger in the hole and bend it down. The fluid should be touching the end of my finger, which when bent at that last joint is about one inch long. In the old days they recommended that you fill till it comes out the fill port.

Of course my finger is calibrated at least once a year.
I just took a 6" piece of wire and bent it at 1" from the end. Stick it in, tip the 5" part level, then tip it back out again. When the 1" part gets wet, you're done.
 

GTyankee

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The reason the manufacturer is so vague, is because:
they don't know how to tell you that when the vehicle is sitting on flat ground, both axle tubes should have a bit of oil, all the way out to the wheel bearings.
How much is a bit ? is it this much ? =
 

Mike Wenrich

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One other thought. If you have a limited slip rear end and still have the clunk after service add a small bottle of limited slip oil, available at parts stores, and see if that quiets the noise. Manual says it is not needed but I have put it in a 2003 and 2004 with LS that were making noise on turns. Both were fine after adding the oil. It's a small bottle and won't overfill unless you are already at the top of the fill hole.
 

GTyankee

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Mr Mavrick ..

Enter your VIN into this website, it will tell you if you have a Limited Slip rear differential

 
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