View Full Version : advice on rear end whine

10-17-2013, 05:25 AM
So, I'd rather not be the person posting these sorts of newbie questions, but I need some advice. I'm looking at buying a 03 cargo with about 150k on it. It has abs and traction control lites on which after reading many threads on the issue, seem to be something i can handle. BUT it has some noise, whiny noise from the rear end. I'm guessing from research the diff is on its way out. Should this be a red flag for buying? I can get it for about 10k which , even if the rear end gets rebuilt still seems like a fair price.....? Also depending on who you ask, they say stay away from the 02's and 3's and other people rave about em.. I'm starting to confuse myself, clarity please. Thanks

10-17-2013, 08:16 AM
My first thoughts suggest the pinion bearings are worn which in turn is allowing the differential pinion to "float" which causes whine in varying intensity levels depending upon throttle load or over run conditions.

If left for an extended period it can cause wear between ring gear and pinion sets within the differential.

Budget about $1300 if you have a shop repair it.
Job times vary between 7 to 10 hours of labor plus parts to overhaul the rear end.

Aqua Puttana
10-17-2013, 12:44 PM
First let me extend you a hale and hearty welcome to the forum. 55060

There was a time when I recall warnings to avoid the 2004, I own one, but I've not heard that for NAFTA 2001 - 2003. :idunno: At any rate, I don't believe any of it has been proven to be good advice.

I thought that maybe I had a source for some parts for you, but it says 2007 and up.


The driveshaft bearing also has some history of contributing to driveline noises. If you can properly jack up/support the vehicle and run it slowly you may be able to isolate the noise with a stethoscope.

Have fun. vic

10-17-2013, 02:21 PM
Thanks for the help. I've been lurking here while I wait to find the right van to pull the trigger on... I like this one, and I guess i was just wondering if that seemed like a fair price considering the potential of some of these repairs. Doesn't seem too bad to me, (?) but I'm afraid my perspective is tainted by sprinter lust. Part of me likes the idea of having to fix stuff right away, at least you know whats been looked at and what hasn't, always a roll of the dice when getting a used vehicle.

10-17-2013, 02:48 PM
Check the diff fluid. If it's neither new nor full of sawdust or metal shavings it could just be random harmonics from the giant steel drum that is the Sprinter.

10-18-2013, 02:24 AM
Thing is, I cant' go see it right now, a friend has found it for me out of state. I thought some of you might have opinions/experiences buying used that would help me go for it or get it out of my head. I'm pretty mechanical and don't mind the tinkering, so I'm not scared away by problems, within reason. I don't want to miss something and learn the hard way.. "NEVER buy a used sprinter with rear end noise or dash lights!!!!" or, "If the price is right, DO IT!! " You know, something like that.I guess it's up to me to decide, just though y'all could throw me a bone....:thinking:

Aqua Puttana
10-18-2013, 02:34 AM
just though y'all could throw me a bone....:thinking:
Nope. No doggy treats from me. It's totally your evaluation and decision. Maybe someone else will help with that.

This is something that I can throw at you.

Used Sprinter Buying Tips

Tips for New to Sprinter Owners

Good luck. vic

10-18-2013, 03:24 AM
Fair enough! thanks. Believe it or not, I HAVE been reading these threads like crazy.... almost like having a real van

10-18-2013, 10:50 AM
I had a 02 that I sold running strong with 420k and I also had the rear end rebuilt at 387k but I think it was around $1500. I would budget around $2500 for repairs if it is the rear end and go ahead and have all the fluids replaced and all scheduled Maint done assuming old owner didn't unless they have records and use that amount in your value negotiations.

lofty whiteley
10-18-2013, 07:57 PM
propshaft bearing carrier.get someone to listen in the back of the van before you rush out and play with the diff,

10-19-2013, 02:56 PM
thanks again for the advice. having owned many 80's toyota vans and knowing what i know now about their quirks, i wouldn't hesitate to buy one with mechanical problems. sometimes people just don't wanna deal. seems the sprinter can be similar, although WAY more complicated. time to start at the beginning again, it seems...

10-20-2013, 12:19 PM
You didn't say which state or I missed it, 10k for a van with possible drive-line problems sounds very high to Me or it must be one heck of a van. Passenger, conversion or cargo? If You really are mechanically inclined then You Can do most things on a sprinter, if it turns out to be a diff problem I would tun to someone who knows how to set them right.

10-20-2013, 01:43 PM
Hello, I purchased my van with a case of Black Death and a half destroyed rear differencial spider. The rear ended up getting to the point that it wasn't rebuildable. No worry, I put a junkyard salvage rear axle assembly in by myself on my driveway. It cost me about 1100 dollars. I would offer the sprinter owner 7400 US dollars if the van has a clean body and runs ok. Get a scan gauge II and you can check for Diagnostic Trouble Codes, and look at coolant temp, Gallons Per Hour consumption to gauge engine health, and so on. Pull the engine cover off , six 5 mm Allen bolts and peer inside the injector Gallery. You should be able to see metal and injector wiring.
My sprinter clunked when shifted from park to drive and clunked again when shifted from D to reverse. Wasnt a u- joint, no serviceable u-joints. I did a writeup long time ago with some pictures. After install my new junkyard rear diff whined, i replaced the fluid with mopar diff oil i think was 85-140 synthetic and its much quieter. Could just be the wrong oil. Good luck, John.

10-20-2013, 02:15 PM
Perhaps the most correct rear differential fluid/lubricant for '02-'06 T1N Sprinters is:
MOPAR Axle Lubricant Part Number 05136033AA.
It is SAE 90 Weight and says on the label it is specifically for Sprinters.
It is NOT 85-140 wt Synthetic gear oil!
Here are the front and rear labels for the correct MOPAR Sprinter Specific rear differential lube:

10-20-2013, 02:45 PM
Gear whine is caused by mating teeth out of alignment due to mismatch, wear/run out and use of unsuitable gear forms/designs; in modern vehicles gear sets are often lapped as in the case of ring gears and pinions.

As a side bar Cubans call a bus a "Whah Whah" due to the racket the rear axle kicked up from the Soviet era buses they got from the Kremlin.

On production the two principal parts Ring gear (crown wheel) and Pinion are made on a Gleeson (USA) or Oerlikon (Swiss) machine.

The Sprinter parts are Oerlikon produced. You can tell by the involute tooth form! Consequently it by its tooth form is less wear tolerant than its Gleeson produced equivalent found in most US and Japanese component parts.

Once lapped together the two component parts are run on the machine to find its quietest running position relative to one another . The two married parts are then stamped /etched with a match number and a mounting distance. This may be a "0" or a correction figure or a +ve or -ve number indicating addition or subtraction of pinion distance mounting shims/spacers in the case.

Of course due to machining tolerances the case might have a tolerance correction as well!

Now with the MB product there is less run out and tolerances on their component parts that's' why you pay more for their product as opposed to a ZIL; where machine tools might not hold tolerances very well and cause high scrappage rates or use of parts that should have been thrown in the scrap stillage. (Hence the "Whah Whah" Cuban/Soviet buses!)

The use of different oil viscosity might hide the noise in the cab but with diagnostic microphones attached to the component parts you can actually hear the interaction of the differential (in this case).

Usually the Sprinter rear end suffers with pinion bearing failure in its early stages which first creates a degradation of the parts by a failure known as "pitting and spalling" & bruising.
In short metal fragments start flying off!

The bearings used on production build are Koyos, I use Timken made in the USA for reworks.
Experience tells me that Koyos are not as good as Timken for this and other applications.

As an owner doing DIY servicing the regular checking of oil draining for what are often called the "sparklies" suspended in oil are in indication of something coming part, which needs investigation. An oil analysis every 40K wouldn't go a miss! Plus of course using the correct spec oil!

DIY overhauls?
Well of course you can no law against that; but you do need some special tools! Particularly challenging for the DIY'r is getting the correct pinion pre-load by crushing the crush sleeve on the pinion, plus all the settings. I tend to err on the tight side of tolerance specs! Go too far with the pre-load crush and you will need a new crush sleeve; leave it too slack and it will whine its head off. (Cuban bus reference again!) :smirk:
Go too tight and it will fail earlier than expected. Back to the whah whahs again!:idunno:


Aqua Puttana
10-20-2013, 02:57 PM
The "correct fluid" per MB BEVO is any fluid which meets the proper MB spec. MB235.8 is one of those listed for Sprinter.

Here is a specific fluid which meets the MB235.8 spec. It is not just 90w.

Should anyone be interested, clicking on the blue arrow within the quote box will take you to the thread.

General information for USA owners. Mobil Delvac is not commonly found in auto parts houses or big box stores.

Our local Camping World has Mobil Delvac™ Synthetic Gear Oil 75W-90 on the shelves. It has MB235.8 on the label which is listed in BEVO as should be used for our Sprinter differentials. Price was 10 bucks and change per quart.

:2cents: vic


10-20-2013, 03:19 PM
I have a slight whine going around 67-70 mph, you don't hear it much when you back off below 65. I'm able to hear it better now cause I took out the partition wall out. I also just changed the fluid to MB spec 85w-90. 2006 w/ 209k. Time for a set of ear plugs... must be a T1N again :hmmm:

10-20-2013, 04:20 PM
Hi Coast 1,
I flew from Calif to Denver to buy my T1N. Drove it home the next day. Like you I did lots of reading here and felt pretty well armed. The seller was nice enough to send some extra photos and hold the van for a full price offer (I carried a bank check plus cash). He did forget to mention and photos failed to show general grime, several smaller dents, cracked bumper, and the cracked windshield and I was able to keep $300 of my cash. Before I flew out I even spoke to the sellers tire shop which had just done front bearing service and they confirmed the sellers description that the van was "runs great, nice van, no rust, new tires, etc". Seller did send photos showing clean injectors as I was paranoid of black death. I bought the van, stopped at a big auto parts store for some Torx tools and such, and headed home to Calif happy happy happy. Long story short don't be afraid to fly and THEN buy if you believe the seller is credible and can determine the van is sound. BTW my van is noisy in the back and still has ABS and ESP lamps lit... no big deal.

10-21-2013, 04:43 AM
thank you, everyone for your advice and personal experiences. super helpful. hulagun you have my dream van, a little 118 cargo, "anything but white, but preferably gray." awesome.

12-25-2013, 06:20 AM
I have a 2004 box van that I bought new. When I drove it home I went right back to the dealer complaining of the rear end whine. They claimed it was normal. It has 65,000 miles on it now and still whines at certain throttle settings. When it is loaded I do not notice it, perhaps because of the mass inside instead of the empty box.

12-25-2013, 04:46 PM
I have a 2004 box van that I bought new. When I drove it home I went right back to the dealer complaining of the rear end whine. They claimed it was normal. It has 65,000 miles on it now and still whines at certain throttle settings. When it is loaded I do not notice it, perhaps because of the mass inside instead of the empty box.
Drove my van 86 miles yesterday in about an hour with 2 motorcycles and related tools and gear in back. The whine I normally hear around town was not noticeable. I believe this is due to the different harmonics when running at a constant speed with a weighty load. It ran like a champ over the hill and thru the woods to grandmother's house...:clapping: