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Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff?
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T3TRIS
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:02 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Alright, it is now out of our hands...

I just did the round trip from Portland to Bend today, on snowy roads with a 2WD Camry to drop our transmission and front differential at German Transaxle of America. It was a lovely experience meeting Ken, Taketa and other staff members. Chatting with Ken was probably the most laid back and down to earth, yet upfront and honest conversation I've had with a mechanic!
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Even though we're afraid of the condition of that transmission, we look forward to working with them.
I spent a couple hours chatting with Ken about everything from workmanship quality to communication skills, from basic transmission parts to debates about coupling or decoupling. It was a lovely way to spend a couple hours in Bend.
Now we just have to wait and see what GTA thinks of our current transmission condition and pick our upgrades based off of realistic budgets.
You can see the few photos I took during the visit on my website.

By the way, he showed me 3 sets of gears, OE, Weddle and Guard. It's interesting to me to see how you can actually visually see the quality, even in a photo. I'm not saying it says anything about which is better, but just pointing out how distinguishable each gear is. It might be tough to tell on the resized photo for this forum, it's definitely more visible in full size: very large photo!
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The Guard gear sure is pretty!
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syncrodoka
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:44 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

I would be hesitant about removing the insulation with a hot engine in such close proximity.
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T3TRIS
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:56 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

syncrodoka wrote:
I would be hesitant about removing the insulation with a hot engine in such close proximity.


Is this based off of concerns about emissions? The research I've done so far suggests that that insulation was there to prevent the cold gas from getting too warm and fumes to evaporate.

To be perfectly honest, if that's what it's for, then I'm all for keeping the insulation! I'm a firm believer that it's ridiculously silly that American cars are still huge gas guzzlers compared to European cars and having purchased a van that barely gets 20mpg isn't my favorite thing about our van (that we still love to pieces).

With that in mind, we're also about to spend quite a few $$$ on a transmission rebuild and want that transmission to last as long as possible. People have removed insulation from these tanks to try to help cool down the transmission.

If that's a somewhat relevant reasoning, if we can get more miles out of one transmission, that's also better for the environment Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:53 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

VanagonVentures wrote:
I'm a firm believer that it's ridiculously silly that American cars are still huge gas guzzlers compared to European cars


The difference could be just “numbers” that they adjust to look better than ours. But in any case we have a whole new EPA now, anybody can get better numbers and cleaner air, probably even Russia.

Remove the insulation just in the top-front area where its close to the transaxle.

The insulation could be for a hottest summer day, hottest trans, many-hot days environment (like Texas). And it could be just a frivolous requirement that VW had to agree with to get import approval. Maybe that's what pushed VW over the edge to build in cheat codes on the TDis... Wink

EJ22 is cleaner than a WBX. Plus EJ22 gets better mileage than a WBX. You’re already ahead, don’t need to take one for the team with your expensive, rare, NLA transaxle.
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T3TRIS
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Sodo wrote:
You’re already ahead, don’t need to take one for the team with your expensive, rare, NLA transaxle.


Well, "ahead" is relative now... We just got a phone call from GTA and it's not pretty. It's amazing how bad this transmission was despite being able to drive the van around. We're still waiting on official quotes/estimates but they sent over some photos.

It would appear that most parts in there would need to be replaced. The reason we couldn't find low gear was because the gear was somehow fused to reverse. As a matter of fact, they broke the housing while trying to remove the gears which seems to have happened to some people on The Samba. They were actually surprised that our 1st and 2nd gear were in decent condition. "Decent" is relative of course since it might be silly to re-install "decent" gears in there if everything else is new.

What surprises me is that I wasn't able to find any significant metal shavings when I drained the oil, whether it was using a magnet to sift through it or pouring the oil through a mesh. Maybe the gears worked as a "juicer" for metal pieces.

Anyhow, here are photos, feel free to share your thoughts.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

I'm guessing that your trans was way low on gear oil.

Do you remember or measure how much came out when you initially drained it?

When was the last time you checked the level or topped it off?

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T3TRIS
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

tjet wrote:
I'm guessing that your trans was way low on gear oil.

Do you remember or measure how much came out when you initially drained it?

When was the last time you checked the level or topped it off?


No, I didn't measure and I caught the oil in a container that had other oils in it. We've only driven 5000 or 6000 miles since we bough the van. My mistake was to not check the oil right away. I didn't really know better honestly, I knew it was a thing and I'll add it to our regular maintenance but I didn't feel any urgency, especially coming from the previous owner (I should've known better).

I don't know when the previous change was and I don't know how much came out. But I guess it doesn't matter all that much for us now does it... Maybe just a reminder for people reading this that they should pay serious attention to that before buying a Syncro.

The truth is, this was something we wanted to purchase for a while and though we did some research, we didn't dive as deep into the mechanics as we probably should have. We're also newbs when it comes to mechanical stuff but I figured we'd learn as we went.

I hate to think that way, but I suspect the previous owner knew that this transmission was on its way. He needed to sell the van to pay off some student loans. He dreamt of rebuilding this van but the reality of the cost of growing a family and school hit him. Nice enough fellow, seemed like he'd fit right in the PNW Vanagon community. He might be reading this as a matter of fact. He did let us know that the EJ22 head gaskets needed to be replaced because they were leaking. He didn't do a good job of making us understand how much they were leaking. We understood that it was a "I top the oil off at every fuel fill up and keep on going." After driving 150 miles back to Portland, we had lost 3 quarts of oil and our engine needed a rebuild. I also remember hearing the reverse whine but "it's always sounded like that" comment probably appeased us somewhat. And I never tried to find low gear when we first drove it... the price was right, or so we thought. Heck, we really didn't know all that much. We printed inspection checklists for buying used vehicles. Drove the van, made tight turns driving forward and back, tested all the gears (except low gear, my bad).

Hindsight is a cruel judge!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

If you have the funds and plan to keep your Syncro. Purchase every new gear, R&P, Main shaft, Bearings, Aluminum housings, and every other internal part that you can afford. GTA is reputable re-builder and can get some of "Gears" parts. Buy the best parts available. Don't scrimp to save a couple hundred dollars. Also spend the funds to cool and filter your new ($10K+ transaxle). Install an oil temperature gauge to keep track of gear oil temps. At least get it plumbed for everything while they have it apart. It will pay you dividends in the future. Change the gear oil at least yearly and use a good quality gear oil. If your new rebuild ever makes noise, then scope it and find out what is failing. These boxes run virtually silent when in good mechanical condition.

It's only $$$.

Did I say $yncro? Those of us who own these understand the transaxle is the weak link.

Sorry to see all that damage. But you are on the road to enjoying your van again. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:22 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Syncro Jael wrote:
If you have the funds and plan to keep your Syncro. Purchase every new gear, R&P, Main shaft, Bearings, Aluminum housings, and every other internal part that you can afford. GTA is reputable re-builder and can get some of "Gears" parts. Buy the best parts available. Don't scrimp to save a couple hundred dollars. Also spend the funds to cool and filter your new ($10K+ transaxle). Install an oil temperature gauge to keep track of gear oil temps. At least get it plumbed for everything while they have it apart. It will pay you dividends in the future. Change the gear oil at least yearly and use a good quality gear oil. If your new rebuild ever makes noise, then scope it and find out what is failing. These boxes run virtually silent when in good mechanical condition.

It's only $$$.

Did I say $yncro? Those of us who own these understand the transaxle is the weak link.

Sorry to see all that damage. But you are on the road to enjoying your van again. Very Happy


Only a rebuilding in time can safe the box from damage like this.
Neither cooling, filtering, nor "gears" parts.
If you dont have a feeling for this moment, check your magnet as often as big your cash is Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:04 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

On this box, there are missing teeth on the Ring gear. These teeth were probably on the magnet. Somebody saw these chunks, then quickly sold the van. Maybe this wasted box was installed in this van just before it was sold.

This box had a broken magnet too Shocked Maybe the Ring gear teeth (large chunks) on the magnet collided with the Ring gear, breaking the magnet off.

This box is a perfect example of what's wrong with the advice to "drive it 'til it makes nose, then rebuild it." I've read this advice before, on TheSamba. And not so long ago.....

It was OK advice back in the day when you could get a used box at the junkyard for $175. Those days are gone, for at least 10 years now.
That mainshaft thats destroyed; that's $1800.
Destroyed low gear? $400 for each each for several gears.
The low-gear housing that broke because gears couldn't slide off shafts? $NLA
R&P is gonna be another $1500
This is a drop in the bucket, I can hardly imagine what this trans will cost, my gut feel its almost a total wreck. All new gears, all new shafts, main case re-bushed, need to find an unobtanium low-gear housing.

Sorry VanagonVentures, looks like you have a nice van and I hope you can get a gearbox together. I don't think its anything you "did"; I bet it was already a total wreck when you bought the van. There are people out there, doing this to their valuable trannies right now
Shocked adding $,000 and $,000 to their (soon) repair bills. Shocked

$NLA "low-gear housing" is going to be expensive, if you can find one. People are busting low-gear housings by bump-starting Syncros in reverse too, further reducing the number of used lowgear housings available. And there's other ways too.

If a Syncro makes ANY transaxle noises, that's gonna be $5 to $10k. A hairy magnet means it needs a rebuild fairly SOON. Check your magnets often, people, so you KNOW when it's starting to get hairy. If you let your magnet get "covered" (no clear space remaining) you have deleted many miles from your expensive gears & shafts. 1st and 2nd gear are machined into the mainshaft, if you wear out those gears the only way to renew them is to buy a new Porsche quality aftermarket mainshaft by GT.

Monitor the lubricant condition, then rebuild BEFORE destroying your expensive parts. If you have:
    a "rebuilt box" (which could have old gears in it)
    or, more than 100k miles
    or, a big engine
    or, drive fast (70+)


(and especially if "all of the above" which are MANY Vanagons)

....you should ensure the box ALWAYS has clean lubricant by changing oil often. Some people say "yearly" some say "every 15,000 miles" but if your magnet is getting hairy at 5,000 miles you need to KNOW that, and then to stop driving and rebuild NOW ---not drive it another 10,000 miles with polluted 'fluid".

There's only one way to know if your magnet's getting hairy, ya gotta go under the van...
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:36 am    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

It would be nice to see pics of the mainshaft, along with the other side of the mainshaft ball bearing. To me it looks like the pinion shaft migrated toward the rear of the van. The pinion bearing would have to be toast (any pics of it?). Was it caused by the failed idler bearings in the low gear housing or did the low gear idlers fail because of the debris from the ring and pinion? That must have made a hell of a noise when the ring gear teeth let go. I have a video of when my pinion head lost a chip of a tooth at syncro-de-mayo years ago. And that was a little chip.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Syncro Jael wrote:
Sorry to see all that damage. But you are on the road to enjoying your van again. Very Happy


Yep, I've been going back and forth with GTA and I think we'll find something we can all be happy with.

Sodo wrote:
There's only one way to know if your magnet's getting hairy, ya gotta go under the van...


Thanks for all the tips and I think you are right. They must've drained the oil and saw the damage. I bet they were stoked that the van was still running! Heck we put about 6,000 miles on it without having much issues!

jberger wrote:
It would be nice to see pics of the mainshaft, along with the other side of the mainshaft ball bearing.


I don't have any other pics yet. These were the photos that GTA sent us. I'll ask for more. When they called us, they were really surprised that the main shaft with 1st and 2nd were in decent condition! I do wonder... red silicone... someone modified this transmission... everything in there chewed up except the main shaft... Make me wonder if the previous owner had a transmission failure, got it fixed as cheaply as possible and sold the van.

Anyhow, we are leaning towards getting the whole thing rebuilt of course. This wasn't what we were hoping for, especially since we were hoping that dropping the transmission BEFORE it had a catastrophic failure would mean that we were ahead of the curve.

Fortunately, GTA seems to have the housings that are NLA. We're basically getting all Guard gears in there, Guard ring and pinion, Guard main shaft w/ 1st and 2nd, new low/rev, new gear carrier, oiling ports and we'll probably get the Peloquin locking diff. We're also getting the front differential and VC rebuilt...
We had hoped that we could get a decoupler and a front locking differential (upgrading to a Peloquin for the rear and using our rear locking diff in the front), but that'll have to wait now. This is already several thousand dollars more than what we anticipated!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Sounds like several thousand more than several thousand.
All new gears though. Thats gonna feel good squirtin’ down the highway!

If that mainshaft is still good its worth something like $500. Maybe more.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Sodo wrote:
Sounds like several thousand more than several thousand.
All new gears though. Thats gonna feel good squirtin’ down the highway!

If that mainshaft is still good its worth something like $500. Maybe more.


Yeah, GTA is working with us so we're getting a little bit of core value for that one.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Sick

Good for you for sharing all this info with everyone. Tough pill to swallow for sure.

My wife and I camped next to you at Nehalem. Looked like you had a nice van.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

You have a cheaper repair option if you're not yet ready for a huge unexpected repair bill. You can install a used 2wd trans. I think you may need to put a spacer under the front mount to make it work. You can also keep the front diff out & pull the axles. There's a way to do that as both have been done before.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

tjet wrote:
You have a cheaper repair option if you're not yet ready for a huge unexpected repair bill. You can install a used 2wd trans. I think you may need to put a spacer under the front mount to make it work. You can also keep the front diff out & pull the axles. There's a way to do that as both have been done before.


Not bad advice really. You know what they say- "Four wheel drive justs gets you into worse places to get stuck".... Get an old Subaru to go skiing!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

There was a guy here that did that. He got a lot of flack over it tho from the purists, but I thought it was a clever idea considering what the prices are like now for the rare items. I'm saving my locker trans & locker front diff because of that reason. If I didn't have another syncro trans, I would have installed a 2wd trans with a peliquin.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=604654

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=617072
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

tjet wrote:
You have a cheaper repair option if you're not yet ready for a huge unexpected repair bill. You can install a used 2wd trans. I think you may need to put a spacer under the front mount to make it work. You can also keep the front diff out & pull the axles. There's a way to do that as both have been done before.


Igeo wrote:
Not bad advice really. You know what they say- "Four wheel drive justs gets you into worse places to get stuck".... Get an old Subaru to go skiing!


tjet wrote:
There was a guy here that did that. He got a lot of flack over it tho from the purists, but I thought it was a clever idea considering what the prices are like now for the rare items.
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=604654&highlight=front+diff


Yeah! It has crossed our minds. But honestly it feels like it'd be money spent on a bandaid when we know we need a surgery. We often find ourselves spending a little here and a little there... and eventually we realize we should've just bit the bullet and done it right in the first place. This is feeling like one of these instances. Heck, we'll probably have a 2wd anyway once we get it. I'll probably re-install it and we'll drive the van without the drive shaft over to GTA for them to do minor adjustments if needed. I haven't figured out everything that needs to happen for the re-install just yet.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro rattle grinding whine noise. Bad VC, transaxle, diff? Reply with quote

Slimvest wrote:
Sick

Good for you for sharing all this info with everyone. Tough pill to swallow for sure.

My wife and I camped next to you at Nehalem. Looked like you had a nice van.


Yeah, glad to hear our experience can be useful to others!

Hey I remember your van. You were the couple that showed up just for one night right? You have the tiny little pop-top. We actually wanted to touch base with you and get to know you two. Our friends Paul and Sara were parked with us and we were admiring your setup. By the time we got up in the morning you were gone Razz

Next time! If you're local to Portland, we're doing a SW meet-up every first Wednesday of the month at Old Market Pub (tomorrow it'll be there, in the future it might change location). Come on along if you're local.
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