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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So today I went out playing in the mountains and found myself in deep snow. I was aired down, in 4-hi,and I buried myself a little bit. No problem, I'll just dig myself out real quick and back out. I dug the snow out, got back in the truck, dropped it in 4-lo, and backed up. I got bogged down a bit and had to rock myself back and forth. While doing that, I heard a few "pop" sounds. Not sure where they came from or what they were.

I was finally able to get myself out, and drove back to solid ground. On the way there, I heard a pop while I was turning into the parking area. I aired up and thought maybe I goobered the steering rack, so I turned back and forth. Nope.

I did big turns while in 4-lo, which was still working correctly. Nothing.

I put it in 4-hi and got back on the main road. After a few miles, there was a clunk and truck lurched a bit, kind of like I had just driven over a really big highway expansion joint or a pothole. In fact, I thought that was what it was. Then it happened again. So I slowed down and waited. It happened one more time. I flicked the 4x4 switch and when it disengaged, I got another clunk and a lurch. Once it was in 2x4, not a single noise or anything. I was able to limp it the 50 miles home.

So what did I do? I checked the front u-joints, they're fine. Doesn't sound like CV axle behavior. Since mine is a 2005, that means the hubs are always engaged, so the diff should be turning no matter what. But let's say I broke a tooth or something in the front. Wouldn't I still get the lurching and noise in 2x4? Or would not having a load on it make the difference?

If it's none of those things it would have to be the transfer case. But what could I have done to the transfer case that would cause that?

I'm taking it in to my mechanic on Monday, but I was wondering if you guys had any insight.
 

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That's an odd one. Check the CV joints in the axles anyway just to make sure. Check the trans mount. Re-check the front and rear ujoints. Jack up the front end and spin the front wheels and front DS in different directions and listen for anything odd in the front diff. Hopefully it's not something in the t-case.
 

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Makes me wonder if it wasn't just hopping or lurching on you. I would give it a run through test and a once over but it could be nothing.
 

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Not to alarm you, but it sounds like what happens when you pop a few teeth off the front spider gears in the front diff. You may want to pop the cover and take a look. If they are broken but the ring and pinion are good there are likely a few people on here that have some from having put a front locker in or you could add a locker yourself as it takes the spider gears out of the equation.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not to alarm you, but it sounds like what happens when you pop a few teeth off the front spider gears in the front diff. You may want to pop the cover and take a look. If they are broken but the ring and pinion are good there are likely a few people on here that have some from having put a front locker in or you could add a locker yourself as it takes the spider gears out of the equation.
That's kind of what I'm thinking it is too.

No worries, I have contacted my local Nissan parts supplier. I'm thinking it's M205 time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Truck is going into the shop today to confirm and possibly get started on teardown.

If it is the front diff, I think I will go to the M205 with V8 Pathfinder CVs. That's if the Nissan shop has a Titan with the right gears. I don't want to break another R180 with my 33s, and this will make me feel a lot better about being out in the boonies with it.

Also, one of the big deterrents for doing this swap for a lot of people is the ridiculous price of the V8 Pathfinder CVs. From the dealer or CourtesyParts, they're over $400 per side. And you couldn't get them from NAPA or other places because they often listed the same part that would fit the V6 Pathy, the Frontier, and the Xterra. Well, I just looked on RockAuto, and they have a specific part number for the V8 Pathy CVs (NI-8354) that is different from the Titan CVs (NI-8203) or the Frontier/Xterra CVs (NI-8229). The picture provided also shows specific information, which shows it is the right length, and it is bolt-on, unlike the V6 CVs. From everything I can see, it's the right part in new condition.

The price for this goodness? $64.79. That's $130 for the set instead of $932!

If I do have a broken front axle and I can get the M205 with 3.36 gears, then I'll order these and give them a try. If they work, then we have a confirmed source (for now) for cheap V8 Pathfinder CVs for people looking to get a stronger front diff without going to Titan width.

I'll keep everyone posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
You can drain the front diff fluid, and check the drain plug magnet for spider gear bits.
Yep, that was the plan for this afternoon. Had to get it to my brother in law's shop so I had a warm place to work with a lift.

I've heard on the interwebs about people ordering said part # from Rock-auto and the order being cancelled by rock auto. But, again, 3rd party info from the interwebs....
Thanks Shizzy, good info to know. Hopefully I can order them and it won't be a problem. If not, well then I'll have to buy from the dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
So, I can now confirm that the front diff is kaput. Which is fun.

I've tracked down what I THINK is a wrecked big tow Titan in town. I'm having a local dealer run the VIN to confirm the axle gears. If they're correct I can pick up the diff for a good price (only 550) and I'll try buying the Pathy CVs from RockAuto. I'll keep everyone updated.

EDIT: According to all the information available, the front diff from that Titan in town has the big tow package, and therefore has the 3.36 gears. I told him to pull it for me and I'll pick it up tomorrow. Gotta order the CVs now and see what happens.
 

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So, I can now confirm that the front diff is kaput. Which is fun.

I've tracked down what I THINK is a wrecked big tow Titan in town. I'm having a local dealer run the VIN to confirm the axle gears. If they're correct I can pick up the diff for a good price (only 550) and I'll try buying the Pathy CVs from RockAuto. I'll keep everyone updated.

EDIT: According to all the information available, the front diff from that Titan in town has the big tow package, and therefore has the 3.36 gears. I told him to pull it for me and I'll pick it up tomorrow. Gotta order the CVs now and see what happens.
I reccomend you call RA direct rather than placing the order online. I had a similar incident on my Hyundai. Needed a part the site listed, ordered, got an email a day later it was cancelled. Called RA for assistance and they were able to push the order through and I had it in a little over a week. Good luck!
 

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So, I can now confirm that the front diff is kaput. Which is fun.

I've tracked down what I THINK is a wrecked big tow Titan in town. I'm having a local dealer run the VIN to confirm the axle gears. If they're correct I can pick up the diff for a good price (only 550) and I'll try buying the Pathy CVs from RockAuto. I'll keep everyone updated.

EDIT: According to all the information available, the front diff from that Titan in town has the big tow package, and therefore has the 3.36 gears. I told him to pull it for me and I'll pick it up tomorrow. Gotta order the CVs now and see what happens.
Did the case and the ring gears survive. A lokka locker would be another solution if the Pathy CVs fall through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I reccomend you call RA direct rather than placing the order online. I had a similar incident on my Hyundai. Needed a part the site listed, ordered, got an email a day later it was cancelled. Called RA for assistance and they were able to push the order through and I had it in a little over a week. Good luck!
Well I ordered it online a few hours ago and just got a shipping confirmation email. So I guess it worked out for me. Says they'll be here Monday.

Might have e found a cheap source for V8 Pathfinder CVs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Did the case and the ring gears survive. A lokka locker would be another solution if the Pathy CVs fall through.
Case seems fine, not sure how the gears faired. I dropped the fluid and there was a ton of metal shavings along with what appeared to be part of a spider gear attached to the magnet.

I looked at the Lokka, but I wasn't sure about 4x4 driving on snowy roads. Hopefully my M205 swap works the way I hope it will. If it does, I'll be swapped for only about $700. If not I'll look a little harder at the Lokka.
 

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Case seems fine, not sure how the gears faired. I dropped the fluid and there was a ton of metal shavings along with what appeared to be part of a spider gear attached to the magnet.

I looked at the Lokka, but I wasn't sure about 4x4 driving on snowy roads. Hopefully my M205 swap works the way I hope it will. If it does, I'll be swapped for only about $700. If not I'll look a little harder at the Lokka.
Looks promising.

i have a lokka locked diff in my garage waiting for install. I too am concerned about running a locked front end in 4 hi in the snow. Some people swear by it. I did not have enough time this fall to install it. Hopefully in the spring.

But the whole point of me looking into the lokka is to avoid the situation you are in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Looks promising.

i have a lokka locked diff in my garage waiting for install. I too am concerned about running a locked front end in 4 hi in the snow. Some people swear by it. I did not have enough time this fall to install it. Hopefully in the spring.

But the whole point of me looking into the lokka is to avoid the situation you are in.
Yeah I've read a few threads about the Lokka. Several guys that have them say they're the cat's pajamas. I was just really unsure, especially with how much snow we get out here in the winter. If I could, I'd throw in an ARB, but they're really expensive and it's an added complication that I don't know if I want.

I always told myself if I blew up the front diff I'd do an M205 swap. Guess now was the time. Just wish it wasn't happening during this ridiculous winter.
 

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What do you have in your rear diff? If you have an LSD or selectable an autolocker in front will be much less an issue. The problem with locked fronts pushing straight is more due to a locked rear trying to push you straight which is then exacerbated by the outer front wheel pulling you in a less-tight turn than the inner wheel. When the rear is open the front is allowed to drag you into the turn. Ice on the otherhand is another matter... I always found I had to drive with a light foot on ice if I had the front engaged
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What do you have in your rear diff? If you have an LSD or selectable an autolocker in front will be much less an issue. The problem with locked fronts pushing straight is more due to a locked rear trying to push you straight which is then exacerbated by the outer front wheel pulling you in a less-tight turn than the inner wheel. When the rear is open the front is allowed to drag you into the turn. Ice on the otherhand is another matter... I always found I had to drive with a light foot on ice if I had the front engaged
I have the factory locked M226 in the back (I've got a Nismo).

Yeah, my big concern was ice. I do a lot of driving gear in ice and snow, including a lot of cross-country driving on interstates while in 4hi. That, along with driving the icy roads in town.
 

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I just put a lokka in about a month ago and have driven in a fair amount of ice and snow since in Colorado and I think it's great! I was initially worried about it but decided to take the plunge. It unlocks around corners great and generally feels very grippy. Steering feels a little heavier but you only really notice it if you really gas it then the steering gets heavy and tries to return to center. I had a friend drive it who normally drives a 2016 Tacoma and he hardly noticed the lokka driving my Frontier in the snow.
 
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