Eldest Son has been driving the Baja for a little over a month now, he took it to Florida and then he's been driving it back and forth to work since he moved back in. This weekend he got himself a little Honda to drive so I get my scoobytruck back. This is good because winter is coming and the Mustang is more of a fair weather friend.
Last weekend he changed out the front struts in the latest attempt to eliminate the front end clunk that first we thought were drive axles and then we thought were wheel bearings. I took it down to get the alignment done and noticed that it has developed a gear whine in the final drive. I put that in the "deal with it later" category and took it on in to the alignment shop.
When it came down from the rack the machine showed everything (except the right rear where there is no adjustment) is straight, but it pulled to the right. I checked the tire pressure and the right tire was low. So, I fired up the air compressor and topped off the tire pressures all the way around and took it down the road to check it out.
Nope, still pulls to the right darn it, so at the end of the road I crank the wheels hard left to turn around...and all of a sudden now it pulls to the left.
When I got to the next intersection I cranked the wheels hard right and brought it about, and then it pulled to the right again but not as hard. Back to the turnaround, hard to the left, and the pull is completely gone now.
Back to the house, up on the jackstands, and check every bolt. Everything is nice and tight, the clunk is gone and the truck tracks straight and true with no pull. All's well that ends well, I guess everything just needed to be settled into place or something.
And now for that gear whine. Eldest Son didn't notice it at all, which suggests that it came about slowly as he drove it for the past month...slowly enough that he didn't identify it as something new. Since I hadn't driven it in over a month I noticed it right away.
The forums (not only is there a forum for the Baja, but there is a book of faces for it, too. Scary right?) suggest the whine may be coming from either the center drive (where the front axles connect) or transfer case bearings. There are detailed instructions on how to change out these four bearings. It looks like a PITA and I really don't want to do it, but it needs to be done.
Fortunately the forums also say it's not something that has to be done immediately, so I can hold off a while doing it until I can build up the car fixing fund again. It will have to be built up quite a bit because the Mustang is going to need another set of $1200 tires soon. I've gotten about 35K out of this set and I hope to get another couple of months out of them at least. Either way the Continentals have outlasted both sets of Pirellis so I'm happy with them and will certainly replace them with another set.
Several sayings about things with wheels come to mind...none of which are polite enough to share.