Gear contact pattern analysis. Side gear clearance

Gear contact pattern analysis

The ring gear and pinion teeth contact patterns will show if the pinion depth is correct in the axle housing. It will also show if the ring gear backlash has been adjusted correctly. The backlash can be adjusted within specifications to achieve desired tooth contact patterns.

(1) Apply a thin coat of hydrated ferric oxide, or equivalent, to the drive and coast side of the ring gear teeth.

(2) Wrap, twist, and hold a shop towel around the pinion yoke to increase the turning resistance of the pinion. This will provide a more distinct contact pattern.

(3) Using a boxed end wrench on a ring gear bolt, Rotate the differential case one complete revolution in both directions while a load is being applied from shop towel.

The areas on the ring gear teeth with the greatest degree of contact against the pinion teeth will squeegee the compound to the areas with the least amount of contact. Note and compare patterns on the ring gear teeth to Gear Tooth Contact Patterns chart (Fig.

81) and adjust pinion depth and gear backlash as necessary.

Side gear clearance

When measuring side gear clearance, check each gear independently. If it necessary to replace a side gear, replace both gears as a matched set.

(1) Install the axle shafts and C-locks and pinion mate shaft.

Fig. 81 Gear Tooth Contact Patterns Fig. 81 Gear Tooth Contact Patterns

(2) Measure each side gear clearance. Insert a matched pair of feeler gauge blades between the gear and differential housing on opposite sides of the hub (Fig. 82).

Fig. 82 Side Gear Clearance Measurement Fig. 82 Side Gear Clearance Measurement



(3) If side gear clearances is no more than 0.005 inch. Determine if the axle shaft is contacting the pinion mate shaft. Do not remove the feeler gauges, inspect the axle shaft with the feeler gauge inserted behind the side gear. If the end of the axle shaft is not contacting the pinion mate shaft, the side gear clearance is acceptable.

(4) If clearance is more than 0.005 inch (axle shaft not contacting mate shaft), record the side gear clearance.

Remove the thrust washer and measure its thickness with a micrometer. Add the washer thickness to the recorded side gear clearance. The sum of gear clearance and washer thickness will determine required thickness of replacement thrust washer (Fig. 83).

Fig. 83 Side Gear Calculations Fig. 83 Side Gear Calculations

In some cases, the end of the axle shaft will move and contact the mate shaft when the feeler gauge is inserted. The C-lock is preventing the side gear from sliding on the axle shaft.

(5) If there is no side gear clearance, remove the C-lock from the axle shaft. Use a micrometer to measure the thrust washer thickness. Record the thickness and re-install the thrust washer. Assemble the  differential case without the C-lock installed and remeasure the side gear clearance.

(6) Compare both clearance measurements. If the difference is less than 0.012 inch (0.305 mm), add clearance recorded when the C-lock was installed to thrust washer thickness measured. The sum will determine the required thickness of the replacement thrust washer.

(7) If clearance is 0.012 inch (0.305 mm) or greater, both side gears must be replaced (matched set) and the clearance measurements repeated.

(8) If clearance (above) continues to be 0.012 inch (0.305 mm) or greater, the case must be replaced.

    Dodge Durango (DN) 1998-2003 Service Manual


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