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What is the purpose of the thrust washer on the front axle differential of a 2003 Silverado 4x4?

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A thrust washer is there to take up lateral movement in the differential, if the washer is not their, their will be to much side movement in the pig assembly and it could bind and brake the case or the pig ( carrier assembly )

Posted on Mar 12, 2011

  • 4 more comments 
  • kd0607cw Mar 12, 2011

    What holds the washer in the recessed notch? It seems like there should be a spring there?

  • john nail
    john nail Mar 12, 2011

    if you are talking about the side washers the bearing caps hold them in place.

  • john nail
    john nail Mar 12, 2011

    ok i lookd up the braqke down on this differential, because i was a little confused by you last question, there are 5 thurst washers inside the differential assembly 4 of them are in the axle gears and 2 are on the pinion gears ( spider as some call them ) they are all held in place by the carrer assembly, once the carrer is togathe they cant get out, but i think you are asking about the front drive axle clutch gear thrust washer and it can be a pain the best way to hold it in place is with some heavy grese untill you get the axle assembly back togather, once the assembly is back togater the washer can not get loose.

  • kd0607cw Mar 15, 2011

    Yes, that's the washer with the two tabs inside the passenger side axle tube or housing. I should have been more specific. It is part #5 on the exploded view in the service manual. It loosely fits in the recessed notch and nothing secures it in place. When the axle is in place there is at least 1/8 inch gap between the splines and the inside diameter of the washer.

    Thanks for your help.

  • john nail
    john nail Mar 15, 2011

    that is the one that can be a pain when rebuilding the diff. it is there to prevent the axle from hitting the end of the tube when the front wheel travils up and down as you go over bumps, you have to remember that as the wheel travils over bumps and what have you ,the axle has to get longer as the wheel goes down and shorter as the wheel goes up if you hit a big bump the wheel could fource the axle hard into the tube so the thrust washer is there to protect the housing.it will take the hit and not the case. i hope this is understandable to you i dont think i have ever tryed to explane just what a thrust washer is there for, i dont think any one has ever askes me this question before, as a mechanic we tear theis down all the time and never give much thought to the componets we check them for wear and replace them if they need replaced, with out giving much thought to there use.

  • kd0607cw Mar 16, 2011

    Thank you for the info.

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Go through the related help links,similar to your issue:---
Click the link below:---
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CLUNK IN REAR


There's a few more things to check out:
1. The track bar links, which attach from frame to the sway bar. Inspect the bolts/nuts to ensure they are really tight and the rubber isn't worn to the point of slack.
2. The bushings where the upper control arm attach to the frame. Inspect these for torn rubber/missing bolts. (These 2 bushings are on the fore end of the wishbone where you changed the upper ball joint.)
3. The bushings in the other, straight control arms that restrain the differential.
4. The shock absorber bolts/rubbers at frame and axle.
5. The u-joints on drive shaft.
6. The differential input pinion bearings. Raise vehicle and really yank/pry/push around the drive shaft and look for any slack.
7. The drive shaft at transmission. Check for any play over 0.020", side to side, up and down.
8. The transmission rubber mount.
9. The axle bearings. To check these, lift under axle, each wheel, and yank wheel fore/aft, up/down, and maybe use a pry bar. You're looking for axle bearing wear where the axle is supported at the outer ends of the axle tubes, just behind the brake mountings.
10. While the vehicle is raised (wheels off ground), chock the front wheels, and put transmission in neutral. Now check for significant slack when you manually rotate the wheels by hand, back and forth. If slack here (say, 10-15 degrees of fore/aft rotation on a wheel), then the spider gears are probably worn at the cross shaft in the differential carrier. Depending on the amount of slack, you can change the spider gears, side gears, cross shaft, and the associated thrust washers yourself, if you're a capable mechanic. This requires opening the differential cover, removing the rear axles (at least far enough to get the axles out from the side gears), remove the cross pin retainer bolt, manipulate the cross shaft out, manipulate the spider gears with their thrust washers, out, manipulate the side gears, with their thrust washers, out, then replace the above, with a 'gear kit', which includes the side gears, new thrust washer, spider gears, with new thrust washers, cross pin, and cross pin retainer. A 'gear kit' is around $85 for the Dana 44, 30-spline axle kit. While those parts are out, pry the carrier in each direction inspecting for slack in the carrier bearings and check the pinion/ring gear slack at that time. If you find a bad carrier bearing or pinion bearing, then you should probably find a mechanic to replace those, unless you're a 'very capable' mechanic. After reassembling the gear kit (side gears with their respective thrust washers, spider gears, with their respective thrust washers), cross pin, and retainer bolt, clean the sealing mating surface of both the axle housing and cover, remove the fill plug from the cover, apply RTV sealer to the cover (1/4" bead), attach the cover with bolts, replacing the tags in their original locations, refill differential with either 85w oil or 70W140 synthetic, as desired, approx 2.3 liters, replace plug, and check for leaks. Note: when removing the differential cover, remove all but 2 mid-side bolts, and make them loose. Then tap the very bottom of the lid towards the rear to loosen the cover, have drain pan under the differential to catch the oil. Then remove the 2 remaining bolts and cover. The lid projects below the housing about 1/16" and that is the part of the lid you want to bump on to loosen the cover.
11. Rear disc brake caliper mounting brackets.
12. The sway bar rubber mountings on the axle.

.. and that pretty much covers everything that can make noise on/in the rear end.

13. If a tow hitch is attached, check that for proper attachment.
14.Fuel tank loose, or fuel pump inside tank loose.
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17. Rear lift door. Open it a bit and check for side to side play. I've heard of terrible noise on my rear lift gate, and it was the rubber wind seal making a bunch of noise. I wiped it with a rag I sprayed silicone oil onto and quieted that down.

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