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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's the situation.

I just bought this truck (1998 frontier, 4cyl, 4x4, 5sp). When I drove it I knew that the diff was not so hot because I could feel the slack, especially when I shifted from first to second. It was a good deal so I grabbed it. I drove it around the city for a bit, brought it home and was giving it the mechanical once over as I have a long drive later this week. I drained the rear diff and what came out was horrifying. light brown/gold, not chunky but you could feel the particles in the gear lube. there is quite a bit of slack in the drive shaft and you can hear a nasty metal on metal clunk when the diff takes up the slack on the drive shaft. the breather line was broken and filled with crud. the front pinion seal is leaking. also, the housing get's quite hot, much warmer than the rest of the rear end.

Obviously this is not good. I know that this is a common problem. no doubt the broken breather line caused the seal to go, the fluid came out and the diff is now a paperweight.

here are my questions for the assembled experts:
1) replace (scrapyard) or repair. how long will it take to rebuild the diff? can a shop do it in a day (I will not attempt this myself I don't think)? are the parts readily available or is it special order stuff from nissan? I am in a major city (calgary alberta).
2) how long would it take for an intermediate level amateur mechanic (me) to change out the rear end for a scrapyard rear end. I would likely do it in a shop with a hoist, air tools etc.
3) assuming I can find a scrapyard rear end, how can I check and see if it's god or not? I don't want to do this and find out I swapped junk for junk.
4) if I found a scrapyard rear end, what seals/bearings should I replace while I have it on the bench?
5) based on all this info, how bad is the diff? how far would you drive it (informal poll). I drove my 4runner for a long time with the diff whining.

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