While driving my 1999 durango a strange whirring sound appears. Drained differential and removed cover only. Nothing "obviously" wrong. Are there
axle bearings that might be the culprit or what else might be the problem?
Also, everything in the brake drums appear okay.
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YES!! I figured it out! The drive shaft connecting the front wheel drive to the center drive has two U-Joints. The front U-Joint is blown big time, ready to fall off kinda blown. Note: Find your front differential, remove the dust cover that is attached to the front diff (3 bolts), under that is your front drive shaft. Grab it and pull on it in all directions if there is any loose play its 1 or both of your U-Joints.
If you have never changed the Differential lube, now would be a good time. Its either a pinion bearing or one of the axle shaft bearings. There are different lubes for regular and limited slip axles.
There is a company called "duralube" which makes products which do a good job at quieting down noisy parts. Its available online and at some NAPA stores. You need to remove the rear Differential cover and wipe out the case with Brakeclean on a rag. Then replace the gasket and reassemble. Some shops just pump out the old lube and it does not get the sediment out of the rear end.
I hope my solution is very helpful and prevents your parts from having further damage. I had 161,000 miles on my Crown Vic, and it was running strong when sold.
It is possible that your differential could be making the sound. However, if the sound disappears when putting the trans in neutral, I would suspect that the differential should still be making noise. If the torque converter is worn, then you would have noise while in gear, but probably not as noticeable while in neutral. Depending on the production date of your car, 2000-early2001 Z3 had an issue with the torque converters.
i had the same problem.. it is the vacuum switch on the transfer case. the switch is stuck open and supplying vacuum to the vacuum diaphram under the battery box. the switch is located on the upper side of the transfer case ( not the front differential) which is located driver side of the transmission. the switch cost me about $25.00. I replaced it myself. if you do your own mechanical work you can get it done just be patient.