Need help finding a rear wheel sound

Steelrides

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Nov 9, 2019
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Up a creek
I’m trying to figure out a sound coming out of what appears to be my rear, driver-side wheel when I make left turns on the street. I'm sure it happens on the trail, but it started happening since March, and I haven't taken it anywhere. It's a 2006 TJ Rubicon 6-sp 4.0L, 5.5” long-arm lift (4-bar link in the rear) on 35” tires with 1.25" wheel spacers. I didn't do the original lift, but I've learned a lot about it over the last 2 years. It sounds like the brakes are rubbing, like a metal-on-metal sound, but I'm fairly confident that's not it. Here's what I've tried in tracking it down, but I'd love some new ideas.
  • Only on left turns, indicating an inward force on the bottom of the wheel is pushing the wheel into the axle. Does not happen on right turns at all.
  • Occurs at low and high speed (like a roundabout circle)
  • Once in a while, I think it happens when I hit a bump
  • The lugs on the wheel and spacer are not loose and I re-torqued them evenly.
  • The disc brake pads have plenty of life and the caliper mounting bolts are torqued down properly
  • Pulling the hand-brake at speed doesn't cause the sound but does slow down the vehicle
  • I've checked bolts on the rear sway bar and suspension arms to see anything loose. There could be wear in a bushing.
  • I don't see any wear marks inside the tire/wheel or wheel well that might indicate a tire is rubbing somewhere
  • I had a bad seal on the passenger rear shock, but that's been rebuilt and wasn't the cause.
  • With the wheel in the air, it doesn't appear to have noticeable play when shaken by hand (either top/bottom or side/side)
Is this a sign of a bad wheel bearing or another component in the axle (Dana 44 that's been heavily trussed for the two center long arms)? If so, is there a way to diagnose it before I start randomly replacing parts?

Thanks for the help,
Chad
 
With a Dana 44, the bearings are pressed on to the shaft. You may need to take the shafts to a shop if you don’t have the appropriate press tools to remove and replace the bearings.

If you have been thinking of upgrading to chromoly rear shafts, a lot of sets come with new bearings already pressed on. Would obviously cost more, but would be stronger and save time.
 
Is it worth upgrading the rear to chromoly for a TJ on Dana 44, even with 35's? Looks like it's $100 for both sets of bearings/seals and $500 for a Carbon Offroad 4140 axle set.
 
Replaced the bearing. Wasn't too bad since I have a machine shop at work. However, it turned out to be the disc brake shield had been bent into the rear of the disc and was the likely culprit. Turning left applied enough force to make contact but I couldn't find it when it was just up in the air. I replaced the bearing & seal and parking brake pads since everything was already apart and will do the other side soon. Thanks for the help.
 
also, try swapping the rear wheels and see if the sound follows..