I have a 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad cab with the 5.9L engine, 3:90 axle and a full bed. It has about 150K miles and under load, driving down the road I have a low 'loud' whine. When I let up on the accelerator the whine goes away. The whine starts about 25-30 MPH most of the time. It doesn't increase going around corners. Could it be my center drive shaft bearing? Have any suggestions?
The pinion depth is incorrect in the differential. This can cause excess backlash, improper bevelled gear meshing, and permanent damage to the gear set. It can be repaired most of the time by changing the shims on the pinion to allow 0.010" more penetration o the pinion into the housing.
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Sounds like you either chipped a tooth of one of the gears or something came loose inside. I would not drive it at all You could make it a whole lot worse if there is a good sized chunk of metal floating around in there. Take it to transmission shop or better yet have it towed!!! If whatever is in there lodges between a couple of the gears you will be spending a lot more money trying to get it repaired. Good luck!
Step 1 would be to see if the vacuum supply switches from one hose to the other on the front axle disconnect. It's a vacuum servo on the front axle, and has 2 hoses going into it. BE CAREFUL as you will have it running and be right under the engine and fan. If it sucks through one hose in 2WD and the other in 4WD, the transfer case switch is working properly, and the servo is suspect. Also, did you test drive in a parking lot to see if it actually in 4WD and just not turning the light on, or is it definitely not going into 4WD?