Nissan Frontier Forum banner

Another Grenaded R180 Front Diff

7890 Views 9 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  JTD
Boom. Or bang. Whatever the noise was, it wasn't a good one. It sounded like a rock kicked up between my wheel and brake caliper and was trying to wedge out. Unbeknownst at the time, the noise came from my front diff while I was out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, trying to climb up a hill that my buddy told me I couldn't do. The slope was a mixture of loose rock and dirt, and the failure occurred in 4lo, with the rear locked. I was almost at the top, the front wheels started spinning, the front end dropped into a dip, and the system was shock loaded.

I was able to get home in 2wd without any issues from the drivetrain (luckily the front wasn't locked up and there weren't any crazy noises coming from it in 2wd). In our trucks, the front hubs are permanently "locked", and the 4wd engagement occurs at the transfer case. In a normal working state, with the wheels on the ground you shouldn't be able to turn the front drive shaft without the truck moving. In my case, I could rotate the driveshaft more than 180 degrees until I would meet resistance, then I could overcome the resistance by turning harder. This further indicated that something inside the diff housing was broken.

After dropping my diff and pulling the cover, I could see that I had a broken spider gear. A tooth was totally missing from one side, and 180 degrees opposed it was missing another. It also looked like there was a crack through the whole gear. I pulled the half axle, and the splines that mesh with the spider gear were rounded and yielded. The cracked spider gear had literally separated into two halves, and the thrust washer/carrier was holding it together. Surprisingly, I had minimal damage to my ring gear, pinion, and housing. There are some gouges on the end of two ring gear teeth, and one tooth on the ring gear has some marks. I think I can carefully shave these down with a stone and reuse them. Luckily, the two teeth that broke off didn't get severely wedged between the ring gear and housing.

I bought a 3.13 diff from an Xterra that I'm planning to use for its half axle and spider gears. Conveniently, this diff carrier also accepts 4.10s if I choose to go that route down the line.

Here's a summary of how my truck was set up at the time:

2.5" RC Front Spacer Lift
1.5" RC Rear Shackle Lift
Stock Pro-4X Dampers and Springs

3:69 Gears
Rear E-Locker

285/75R16 Goodyear Duratracs

White Knuckle Sliders
Shrock Radiator Skid
ARB Transfer Case Skid
Stock Pro-4X Gas Tank Skid

Extra Weight:
CVT Mt. Jefferson RTT and rack (>200 pounds)
Camping gear for a week in the desert.

Pictures attached.


See less See more
1 - 2 of 10 Posts
Yes, that is what I been hearing. It is the spider gears that fail.
The Lokka locker replaces the spiders. Hopefully this will prevent failures.
Luckily it did not damage your case which is known to happen.
I have 4:10 gears and a Lokka to be installed. I have strong axles (300C) but stock CV’s. Just had not been well enough to install. Plus I need to make a pinion depth tool.
1 - 2 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.