June 13

2009 Dodge Sprinter, Driveshaft Bearing Repair



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Remarkable Speaking. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service solution for your car and they're 24 time best auto repair in Vancouver. Winners, as voted by their customers and we're talking cars, how are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well. I like that solutions, the first intro under that name. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2009 Dodge Sprinter, that had a drive shaft bearing problem. What was going on with this Sprinter? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle, it's a regular fleet client of ours and they noted that when they were driving it, there was a strange noise coming from underneath the vehicle. So that's basically what the issue was. 

Mark: What kind of testing and diagnosis did you have to do? 

Bernie: Well, the first part of any diagnostic, like this is a road test and fortunately I picked this vehicle up from a considerable distance from our shop as part of the service we offer this client. So driving back, I could definitely get, gave me some time to hear the noise. And of course, usually noises while you're driving are often either brakes or wheel bearing. Sometimes it can be a drive shaft bearing or a transmission issue, so it gave me a lot of time to kind of listen to the noise. 

Some things are obvious. Certain things like wheel bearings can be really obvious. Other things like drive shaft bearings are not quite so obvious, but I kind of figured by the time I got to the shop and I think it's probably a drive shaft bearing or something in the drive train, maybe a differential. So that was the first step of the diagnostic.

Second procedure of course, is to put it up on a hoist and run the vehicle, run it, get it spinning. Have someone sitting in the driver's seat, rev the engine up, and then we can listen with a stethoscope or whatever listening equipment we have to various components and that's where we found the front drive shaft bearing. There are actually two of them on this vehicle. The front drive shop bearing was exceptionally loud and definitely verified our problem. 

Mark: So do you have some pictures? 

Bernie: I do. So this is the front drive shaft bearing. This is the one that was making the noise. Of course you cannot see the noise from the picture, but we put a stethoscope up. It's an interesting stethoscope. It's not the type that your doctor has with that sort of round thing. Ours has a big pointed needle on the end, so we can actually pinpoint, you know, touch metallic pieces and listen.

2009 Dodge Sprinter, Driveshaft Bearing Repair

So of course we don't touch this part here, where I'm moving my mouse pointer, because that's spinning at high speed. We touch it, you know, sort of around where the bearing rides and that was sort of this area here. And we could hear an exceptionally loud noise coming from that area, which verified the sound.  

Couple other components on the drive shaft, this is one of the universal joints. There are several on this, it's a very long drive shaft. This is a long, long wheel based model. So that's the drive shaft. 

Mark: Were there any other parts that required service?

Bernie: Yeah. So we don't really know, I mean, based on listening to it, we knew the front bearing was bad. The rear one was silent. So figured that was probably okay for the time being. The other components, of course, are the universal joints. And we inspect those once we take the drive shaft apart.

2009 Dodge Sprinter, Driveshaft Bearing Repair

So here's a picture of the actual drive shaft apart. The bearing. So this drive shaft doesn't bolt into pieces. It comes apart in a couple of pieces. And we weren't sure when we took on the job, are we going to have to buy a whole complete shaft? Or can we buy just the bearing? The answer's yes, you can buy just the bearing and service it.

And I think that's great. There's a lot of vehicles coming out these days where you have to buy a complete shaft from one end to the other. It's usually a $1,000 or $2,000 for a drive shaft. And it's a shame when, you know, you can spend an hour or two of time to swap a bearing out, maybe not even that long and buy a bearing and the part's good to go. So this one, fortunately you can, it's a interesting item to take apart. We have a hydraulic press that we can do all of that with, but this is the new bearing. This is the part of the drive shaft with the old bearing attached.

And I got one more picture here that just kind of shows another view of the bearing. So there's the actual bearing. Sits in a rubber cage, sort of isolates or insulates or isolates the vibrations of the drive shaft as it spins from the cab. So it keeps it for a smoother operation.

2009 Dodge Sprinter, Driveshaft Bearing Repair

Mark: So if you go back to that first picture. Yeah. This one here. Yeah. You can kind of see up in the top, middle above the left kind of part of the round shaft that looks all torn. Like the rubber is all gone. 

2009 Dodge Sprinter, Driveshaft Bearing Repair

Bernie: Yeah. The rubber's disintegrated there too. And that causes issues as well. We have vehicles where, you know, it'll come in for a vibration problem and a lot of times this rubber is completely torn out.

So as the drive shaft is spinning. It's vibrating, like crazy. This is supposed to be, you know, this rubber and everything holds it smooth. So again, that's a sign too that it was worn out. But that wasn't the cause of the actual issue in this case, but it certainly given enough time it would have caused the issue.

You can actually see gaps here. So these are designed, sometimes they're not solid rubber. They're actually a little, I guess, you'd call them webs of rubber that extend from the bearing out to the outside flange. So they're not always solid. I don't know why they do that. I'm not on the engineering end of it. But you can see here there's thicker sections and thinner sections and over time, they wear out. But that rubber was definitely pretty badly worn and warranted replacing just because of that.

Mark: So how did the van work after you got everything repaired? 

Bernie: It was good. Yeah. Nice and smooth. No more noises. You know, actually, the real issue was a noise that was happening when you drive it. So the noise was gone and given enough time, of course, if you leave that the bearing will seize up and all sorts of other nasty things will happen. And you know, the shaft could break or snap or something like that. Haven't seen that happen, but it certainly could. And of course at the end of the day, you've got a vehicle that's stranded and it costs you a lot more money to fix. 

Mark: How are Sprinter vans for reliability? 

Bernie: Well we've done a lot of podcasts on them. They are good vans. You know, they do have issues with the engines. You know, certainly it's the 3 litre Mercedes engine that we talk a lot about. You know, anything about this van is, and it kind of blew me away, the techs in my shop were inspecting and go, you know, this thing does not have a drip of oil coming from it. And this is a 2009. So this van is now 13 years old. There wasn't a drip of oil under the engine. And so often we look at these and it's like, ah, there's only leaks everywhere because there's several spots. You can look at our other podcasts and videos on the 3 litre engines. We do a lot of them.

And yeah, it was amazing. So they're pretty reliable, but they are a little expensive to repair from time to time. But overall they're pretty good van. We serve some that have way over 300,000 kilometres and they're still trucking away. So. You know, they're a nice match in terms of fuel economy, size, load, yeah load carrying capacity.

You know, it's not like your sort of older American van that had a decent sized V8 engine and not a huge amount of capacity. These things have a lot of space. So this is actually an 11 passenger bus. So some are buses, some hold cargo. So they're all very useful. Good for RVs too. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Sprinter van in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can book online at pawlikautomotive.com or you can call (604) 327-7112. You have to book ahead. They're busy, always busy. You can check out our YouTube channel. Pawlik Auto Repair, close to a thousand videos on there now of all makes and models and types of repairs. 10 years plus of doing this. Or on pawlikautomotive.com, there's the blog with the written information as well and all the pictures. You can check that out if you're ever feeling in need of some sleep, because we're really good at putting you to sleep. Thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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