Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Front Output Shaft Bearing

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A front output shaft bearing is a component that is commonly found on vehicles equipped with transfer cases, such as all wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles. The front output shaft bearing is the heavy duty bearing installed in the vehicle’s transfer case that supports and secures the front output shaft into place. The bearing keeps the shaft from wobbling as it rotates, and thus allows it to spin smoothly so that power can be transferred efficiently. While most output shaft bearings will usually last the life of the vehicle, they can sometimes be prone to issues that can cause issues with the operation of the vehicle. Usually a bad or failing front output shaft bearing will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.

1. Noisy drivetrain

One of the first symptoms of an issue with the vehicle’s front output shaft bearing is a noisy drivetrain. If the bearing becomes excessively worn or dries up, it can cause the drivetrain to make abnormal sounds when the four-wheel drive system is engaged. A worn or dried out bearing may produce howling or whining noises, and in more serious cases, even grinding noises. The sounds may change in volume or pitch according to the speed of the vehicle.

2. Excessive vibration from the drivetrain

Another common symptom of a possible problem with the vehicle’s output shaft bearing is excessive vibration from the drivetrain. A worn output shaft bearing can cause the output shaft to rotate unevenly and cause the drivetrain to produce excessive vibrations. The vehicle may experience excessive vibration when accelerating or cruising at a constant speed. The vibrations are also usually accompanied or preceded by noises as well.

3. Oil leaking from transfer case

Another symptom of a potential issue with the front output shaft bearing is oil leaking from the transfer case. Aside from supporting and securing the transfer cases front output shaft, the output shaft bearing also seals gear oil within the transfer case. If the output shaft bearing becomes damaged, it can cause gear oil to leak from the transmission. An oil leak from the transfer case will put the unit at risk of running low and suffering damage due to lack of lubrication.

While servicing the front output shaft bearing is not considered routine maintenance, it is a very important component to the proper operation of the transfer case. When it fails, this can cause issues with the vehicle’s drivetrain. If you suspect that your vehicle may be having an issue with the front transfer case bearing, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the the car will need a front output shaft bearing replacement.


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Scott

20 years of experience
49 reviews
Scott
20 years of experience
Mercury Monterey - Car is making a noise - Phoenix, Arizona
Very thorough. Explained things to me as he was doing them. I trusted him enough to leave him to his work, and he was done in about 75-80 minutes. Seems to be an honest guy. I would have him work on my van again.
Toyota Tundra - Car is making a noise - Phoenix, Arizona
He was extremely attentive to details and made me feel very confidant with his diagnosis of the issue with my truck. overall great customer service and amazing technical skills.

David

14 years of experience
56 reviews
David
14 years of experience
Toyota Solara - Car is making a noise - Sacramento, California
David has always taken great care of any repair I’ve needed, on many different vehicles I own! Thanks!
Hyundai Azera - Car is making a noise - Sacramento, California
Excellent work and he was able to find an issue that elluded 2 other mechanics. And he did it quickly.

Rodrick

21 years of experience
29 reviews
Rodrick
21 years of experience
Mazda Tribute - Car is making a noise - Fort Worth, Texas
Rodrick was very prompt. He was very professional and thorough. He explained exactly was was going on with my vehicle. Highly recommend!!

Juan

7 years of experience
26 reviews
Juan
7 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra - Car is making a noise - Durham, North Carolina
Juan is very knowledgeable of the inner workings of cars! He explained every step of the process. I was educated today on components of my car thst I was unaware of. I definitely recommend Juan!!!!-

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