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GMC Jimmy Differential Problems

Hi everyone. I am currently rebuilding a 1995 Jimmy SLS 4x4. We bought this with a blown V6 Vortec due to the remote oil filter line breaking and KaBlam went the motor.

In any event, we've pulled the front clip, removed the engine, transmission and transfer case. While pulling this out, we noticed the front axles were missing and that the previous owners ran a bolt through each hub with washers to hold things in place. This leads me to believe that either these guys blew the CVC's and didn't have the cash to replace them, or something happened to the differential.

How can we check the diff now that things are removed to make sure it works? We rotated the drive shaft coupling and then engaged the cable to put it into 4 wheel. The drivers side axle starts turning but the passenger side does not. I'm assuming this is a limited slip diff, unlike our 4Runners. So how can I make sure it's working before throwing everything together?

By the way, we've had to replace everything on the front end of this thing, so the old owners must have really beat the crap out of it. this is what makes suspect on the diff.

Any help would be appreciated!



  • Here is the thing, I was involved in a car accident on 7/6..rear eneded by a 90 year old. Brought it in to the body shop that his insurance told me to on 8/ ran fine, just cosmetic damages. They had the car for 4 weeks after we were told they had all the parts to do the repair. Got the car back and with in 3 hours the car was dead. Put a new battery in, died again. Changed fuses, died again. Obviously a dead, after 3 mo's of my car not running (alternater is good) the repair shop that I brought it to says they believe it to be the front differension switch for the 4wd. They had to pull the dash to get a look at they are talking 468.00 in repairs. I know that the accident did not make this happen, BUT, what I need to know is could the workmanship at the body shop have been at fault? All I know is that as of 7/6/06 my car was mint, no problems. And, now I am going to be shelling out $$$ for an accident that I was not a fault for! I'd like to have the man's insurance pay...if I can prove it was workmanship related...any advice?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Do you mean the "selector" switch?

    I recommend asking in Questions About Auto Insurance & Accidents.

    tidester, host
  • I was told the 1997 GMC Jimmy Front Differential Switch. Not sure if it is also the "selector" switch....
  • repairdogrepairdog Posts: 948
    Doubt that any 4wd related switch is causing a dead short cause if so the 4wd dash switch would probably be blinking.
    So, does it run fine then the battery dies in 3 hours? Damage to the rear only? More specifics needed. Also remember that only the 97 had a known defective ignition switch which is not the key/tumbler but the connector and harness in the column so depending on how hard the hit was that may be it. Could be wiring in the rear too. You should take it to the GM dealer - Oh, you are NOT required to take it where the other guys company sends you that is your choice and a free rental is law for a similar vehicle - talk to them and mention you are filing a complaint with the state insurance commissioner on their practices. Most Ins companies are full of BS and try to low ball everything.
  • Yes, the damage was in the rear end and up the driver's side to the fuel tank door. Electrical work had to be performed to get the tail lights repaired. It would run like the alternator is going, every thing slows down, dims, and the dash wouldn't work. I spoke to the guy again, he said it was the 'tans axel switch' that shorted. If I don't get this to somehow connect with the workmanship at the autobody, I will be out almost 1,000.00. Oh, and we did not find out that the law is we can take it anywhere we want until AFTER the car was back at the garage for this. Allstate NEVER told us that. Handed us a brochure and said 'here, take it here'...
  • repairdogrepairdog Posts: 948
    All front diffs are standard open not posi. The right pass side has the axle coulper as you said. Only one shaft should rotate at a time - the one with the least traction so with the coupler engaged and holding the drivers side from turning, the pass side should turn. Check the gear oil and make sure it wasn't dry in there or problems - fill with 80w-90 or a syn blend and look at the axle seals and pinion seals for leakage.
  • Hey thanks for a quick reply on this!

    Update... We engaged the 4 wheel drive and stopped the drivers side from turning, however the passenger side wheel did nothing. Now the passenger side rotor is pretty rusted and can be a bit hard to turn, so it hangs up on the brakes. Would this be enough to stop the passenger side from turning at all?

    How hard should it be to stop one side from turning? Because it wasn't that hard to stop the driver's side from turning at all. You could feel it "catching" and trying to turn while it was jammed, but it seemed the passenger side was doing nothing. I'm not use to this sort of thing because our 4Runners don't behave like this at all.

    I'll check the fluids and make sure I don't see pieces of metal, just in case the passenger side spider gear is blown. I don't hear anything clunking, grinding or hanging up, but you never know since you're turning things by hand and not with the force and speed of an engine.
  • repairdogrepairdog Posts: 948
    If the CV axles were missing you lost me on this. Take the calipers and rotors off and try it - but even the CVs if on dropped down at an acute angle will hang the turning up. In fact I would put rebuilt CVs in and hubs, ball joints, and do the brakes at this time anyway - its all apart.
  • Yes the CVC axles were missing when we bought the truck. Dumb of me not to look, yes.

    I have everything here to rebuild the front, CVC's, rotors, hubs, ball joints, links, control arm bushings, etc...

    In talking to the local GM dealer, they instructed me to rotate one of the tires while the differential is engaged and the other axle should turn the opposite way. We did this last night and that worked. Kind of dumb of me not to think of that myself. According to them, that lets you know the spider gears are working fine.

    They also mentioned that turning the driveshaft coupler by hand isn't a good test because you need a little more power than your hand to make things happen within the diff.

    In talking to them further, they told me that both differentials on this 95 Jimmy are "open end", not limited slip. I didn't quite understand what they were talking about, but it sounds like an "open end" is pretty lame compared to a limited slip. Oh well, what can you expect from GM anyway.

    I don't plan on taking this thing four wheeling like we do with the 4Runners. You can tell by looking at the frame and suspension it's not built as tough. It's going to be good transportation for my daughter.

    Anyway, thanks for all the help and if anyone has further information, please post!!

  • lnx26lnx26 Posts: 2
    :cry: Hello Everyone, my name is Ricafort, I have a hemi-down car I had it for 4 years now. it's GMC jimmy 1995 vortec 4.3 V6 2 dr, 4wd. I had my transmission fluid flushed due to one bolt was lose and it was leaking. the mechanic told me someone was sabotaging my car, also found the ABS sensors are cut and rear wheel lugnuts are lose. I had all those problem fixed. recently, while I was driving home, I felt that my car was heavy seems like I'm pulling a trailer that when I take off my foot off the gas on the freeway from 65mph, my speedometer droped 3miles per sec and when I step on the gas to sustain the speed, car was jerking and hesitating and feels like my car my engine is whining and the car is dragging. it feels like I'm using 2nd gear.

    Please help.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Hi, Ricafort!

    I am sorry to hear you have been the victim of foul play. I suggest looking at the topics in the Chevrolet Blazer GMC Jimmy group. From your description, I can't tell whether it's a differential problem but you may have better luck with a more suitable topic. If all else fails, give Got a Quick, Technical Question? a try.

    Good luck!

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • lnx26lnx26 Posts: 2
    Update! I took my car in for a serious diagnostic. Test after test, they've concluded that my my gasoline mixture in the tank has higher Octane content that of the gasoline station premium 91, In otherwords, when my mechanic tested the gas sample off my tank he said that I have high concentration of octane to which my car engine can blow up anytime, due to the O2 sensor and the CMFI can't take it. That's why my car wanting to stall and felt dragging. my mechanic said that I should replace my gas tank cover with a lock. And yes, he also concluded a foulplay was involved. Just to be safe, that my car always parked inmy drive way, I've installed a nightvision cam and a dependable car alarm.

    :shades: :blush:
  • jacki30jacki30 Posts: 5
  • I need to change a gasket on my rear diff to stop a leak on my 1998 Jimmy. Until I change it I wanted to add some gera oil. This question may sound silly but where do I add it? I have looked all over the diff to find a plug with no luck? I looked in a Haynes manual for a pic with no luck?
    Help and thanks.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    This should tell you what you need to know! alcan, "Chevy Blazer GMC Jimmy Maintenance and Repair" #1541, 11 Sep 2005 2:08 am

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • I read that message but still did not read where the plug to ut the gear oil in is? The Haynes manual shows the back of the diff plate and how to empty it but not how to fill it? I was looking for a seperate plug up higher to squirt the gear oil in.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Look on the passengers side of the differential, forward of the axle and above the centerline. It will have a square hole that a ratchet with extension will fit in. You should be able to put your little finger in the hole and touch gear oil.
  • Thanks I found it:)
  • dgiehldgiehl Posts: 1
    how do i add fluids to front and rear differential on 1998 jimmy ?
  • tjw92tjw92 Posts: 1
    I have a '99 GMC Jimmy and I have had so many issues with it since I bought it two years ago. Right now Im dealing with a leak from the rear diff. when its parked or driven. The bottom rim is saturated in oil. I took it into a shop and they said I had to come back in a week to get my rear end replaced for 900 bucks. Yea right, its not even making any noise, but I dont know why it is leaking so much. Can someone please help?

    Also I have some play in my transfer case. I shift and it makes a loud clicking or abnormal shifting sound, Im not sure how to fix that. Its like the 4x4 is trying to kick in every time is go from P to R or to D. Let me know if someone has an answer to that too. Thanks.
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