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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
possible bad axle?

I am trying to figure out if I have a bad axle or something worse in the dif. My father got stuck in the snow last year and when he was trying to get out, he heard a clunk and lost all power to his wheels. I have the car on jacks and the hub nut removed on the side I think might have the bad axle but just going from an eye test, the axle doesn't look that bad (no bad c/v boots, visible shaft cracks, etc). Is there a way to tell if the axle is bad before I go order another one? The vehicle is old ('99) and has 170k miles on these axles. It has also been a minnesota vehicle for the last 7 years so it has seen alot of highway salt. Sorry if this has been addressed in another forum. I couldn't find anything other than axle replacement guides (which were very useful).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There is no power to the axles. I have verified this with the car up on jacks. The speedo works, the clutch works, it shifts into all gear as well as reverse. I was not present when it broke down so I am not sure what noise was made or what symptoms occurred. However, having worked on a few solid axle trucks, I can usually spot a bad dif. With this front wheel drive setup, I am not sure. Also, I have not worked on a lot of c/v axle setups but like I said, the c/v boots themselves weren't torn up or showing signs of catastrophic failure.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I have and both spin freely regardless of its in gear or not. One side seems a little more firm (though the rust on the brakes and rotors is rather thick) than the other. If its not the axle itself, is there a joint where the cv flange hooks up to the diff that could have gone bad? Otherwise, I'm guessing I have to take apart the diff and start looking deeper in the drive train. I don't mind doing that, but an axle swap or a joint replacement would be far less time consuming :).

oh and just for further clarification, I put it in gear, on jacks with the tires off and let off the clutch slowly. I didn't apply any throttle but had a friend watch the rotors and one side moved slightly (maybe a quarter of an inch) while the other side didn't really appear to move at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm not sure why I assumed this (usually cause my father is a stickler about routine maintenance) but I was going off the assumption that the transmission fluid level is good. I will verify that tonight and make sure as I know long trans fluid can cause the pressure to drop far enough to mimic some of these symptoms. It doesn't explain the supposed sound that he heard but since I wasn't there, I can't really use that as a diagnosis.
 

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If the speedometer is working, this usually means the power is getting to the output side of the transmission.

Not sure what can break in the earlier cars, but we have had a lot of 6 speed automatics with the snap in axles that have popped out and the differential is then open/not able to drive the wheels.

Sounds like the side that did not turn or move at all when the car was in gear is the problem side.

Do you have bolt on flange style axles or snap in axles?

Here are pictures of a snap in axle.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the responses. I have the flange style axles. Unfortunately, thats making me think the axle is fine (if it was busted, I imagine the flange portion wouldn't spin with the shaft. So, that leaves me looking towards other parts of the drive train that might have failed. I appreciate the response about the speedo. I had heard that before, but never had a definitive reason as to why if the speedo works, the transmission is still working. Once you mention it, that makes a lot of sense.
 

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Either a failure in the differential center section or a problem where the flange connects to the internal of the differential.

I have no idea how the flanges connect internally to the differential, I assume a lot of internet searching can come up with a diagram.

I might check my Bentley if I have time.
 

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Ouch!!!

Not likely overheated by spinning a wheel for too long!

As they say its not the fall that kills you, its the landing or stop.

My guess is what broke the diff is when the spinning wheel caught traction?? Puts a lot of instantaneous load on things!

Things become much clearer once you actually get under the car and look at things.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Alright, so now I'm looking at throwing about a grand into rebuilding the dif. From what I can tell, it looks like the housing is shared with the transmission. Does this seem right? If so, I'll start looking for a used transmission at the local junk yards. I'll have to rebuild it so the miles don't really matter. If I'm wrong and the diff housing is seperate, all the better.
 

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Its a shame you guys in the USA have to pay so much for a gearbox , I can pick one up here for £100 $150...




Alright, so now I'm looking at throwing about a grand into rebuilding the dif. From what I can tell, it looks like the housing is shared with the transmission. Does this seem right? If so, I'll start looking for a used transmission at the local junk yards. I'll have to rebuild it so the miles don't really matter. If I'm wrong and the diff housing is seperate, all the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I found a transmission rebuilt and tested on ebay for a good price. However, it is for a 2000 beetle/ jetta/ golf. It is the same 2.0 motor and the trans code has the same gear ratios as my trans from what I could tell. Will the transmission from the 2000 model bolt up to the 1999 motor?
 
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