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Rear Axle Click: Ultimate DIY Fix

Mturn0688

Member
Jul 30, 2020
5
11
CO
All,

I've been looking on here for sometime now but this would be my first contribution. Thank you all for providing such useful content. I hope this helps others.

Anywho.... I've had the rear clicking since I purchased my used Model 3 (sleeper performance model). With the windows open, it is extremely noticeable on acceleration and regen and was getting on my nerves. So, I wanted to put my warranty to use and get service to look at it but in the Denver metro area that meant waiting a month and a half for a service appointment and then dropping the car off for 4 days without a loaner.

So, I stumbled around looking for articles on what other were told by the dealer as a fix and it was a mixed bag. However, it seemed to be a mix between loosening axle nuts and corrosion/issues with the splines on the axle itself. I have repeatedly retorqued the axle nuts and the sound returned. So, to take the overkill approach this is what I did.

Tools Needed:
  • Breaker bar
  • Torque Wrench capable of 185 ft/lbs
  • 10mm 17mm 18mm sockets and wrenches
  • WD-40
  • Soft wire brush
  • Loctite LB8012 (or other metal free low friction lubricant) as suggested by the following link
  • Red Loctite
Steps:
  1. Set parking break, loosen rear wheels, and jack the rear of the car up. (I did one side at a time)
  2. Remove wheel
  3. Remove the Axle Nut (32mm). Parking break was able to hold enough for me to loosen with a breaker bar
  4. Remove the abs sensor with a 10mm socket.
  5. Remove the upper control arm, trailing arm, and lower front control arm (mix of 17 and 18mm bolts/nuts). Make sure to mark the orientation of the upper control arm bolt as this sets the rear camber.
  6. This allowed enough movement for the axle to be pulled from the hub. It wouldn't come all the way out but I was able to wedge the axle against the backside of the hub to hold it to work on the axle splines.
  7. Clean axle splines and inner hub with WD-40 and soft wire brush. I spent a good amount of time doing this to ensure there was no debris or old grease left on either the splines or inside the hub mating surfaces. You can spin the axle to allow ease of cleaning around all splines.
  8. Spread a liberal amount of the low friction lubricant on the axle splines and rear mating surface. This will squeeze out but also create a barrier to prevent moisture or debris from making it into the surfaces if this was the cause of the noise.
  9. Reinstall axle back into hub and reconnect suspension in reverse. I found it helpful to put a jack stand under the lower control arm and lower the car (or raise this with a jack) to counter the spring and allow everything to be put together easier. I did apply some antiseize to the bolts as a few had some corrosion. Good preventative measure should anything need to come apart again later in the car's life.
  10. Torque bolts to spec? Unless someone has a good reference, I searched and came up with good guesses on torque at 90ish ft/lb for the upper control arm bolt (camber bolt, and remember to orient it back correctly to avoid an alignment) and 65ish ft/lb for the (2) other bolts.
  11. Reinstall abs sensor.
  12. Reinstall axle nut with red Loctite. Torque to 185 ft/lbs.
  13. Reinstall wheel, lower car, and torque wheels to 135 ft/lbs
  14. Enjoy your click free car.
Again, this may be overkill and maybe red Loctite with retorquing the nut would have ultimately worked for me. However, I'm 1000+ miles in and have yet to hear a peep out back. Back so silent, brutal acceleration.

Hope this helps someone that is in my previous situation. If anyone has good torque values for the rear suspension, I will update the post.
 

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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
11,358
13,191
Riverside Co. CA
All,

I've been looking on here for sometime now but this would be my first contribution. Thank you all for providing such useful content. I hope this helps others.

Anywho.... I've had the rear clicking since I purchased my used Model 3 (sleeper performance model). With the windows open, it is extremely noticeable on acceleration and regen and was getting on my nerves. So, I wanted to put my warranty to use and get service to look at it but in the Denver metro area that meant waiting a month and a half for a service appointment and then dropping the car off for 4 days without a loaner.

So, I stumbled around looking for articles on what other were told by the dealer as a fix and it was a mixed bag. However, it seemed to be a mix between loosening axle nuts and corrosion/issues with the splines on the axle itself. I have repeatedly retorqued the axle nuts and the sound returned. So, to take the overkill approach this is what I did.

Tools Needed:
  • Breaker bar
  • Torque Wrench capable of 185 ft/lbs
  • 10mm 17mm 18mm sockets and wrenches
  • WD-40
  • Soft wire brush
  • Loctite LB8012 (or other metal free low friction lubricant) as suggested by the following link
  • Red Loctite
Steps:
  1. Set parking break, loosen rear wheels, and jack the rear of the car up. (I did one side at a time)
  2. Remove wheel
  3. Remove the Axle Nut (32mm). Parking break was able to hold enough for me to loosen with a breaker bar
  4. Remove the abs sensor with a 10mm socket.
  5. Remove the upper control arm, trailing arm, and lower front control arm (mix of 17 and 18mm bolts/nuts). Make sure to mark the orientation of the upper control arm bolt as this sets the rear camber.
  6. This allowed enough movement for the axle to be pulled from the hub. It wouldn't come all the way out but I was able to wedge the axle against the backside of the hub to hold it to work on the axle splines.
  7. Clean axle splines and inner hub with WD-40 and soft wire brush. I spent a good amount of time doing this to ensure there was no debris or old grease left on either the splines or inside the hub mating surfaces. You can spin the axle to allow ease of cleaning around all splines.
  8. Spread a liberal amount of the low friction lubricant on the axle splines and rear mating surface. This will squeeze out but also create a barrier to prevent moisture or debris from making it into the surfaces if this was the cause of the noise.
  9. Reinstall axle back into hub and reconnect suspension in reverse. I found it helpful to put a jack stand under the lower control arm and lower the car (or raise this with a jack) to counter the spring and allow everything to be put together easier. I did apply some antiseize to the bolts as a few had some corrosion. Good preventative measure should anything need to come apart again later in the car's life.
  10. Torque bolts to spec? Unless someone has a good reference, I searched and came up with good guesses on torque at 90ish ft/lb for the upper control arm bolt (camber bolt, and remember to orient it back correctly to avoid an alignment) and 65ish ft/lb for the (2) other bolts.
  11. Reinstall abs sensor.
  12. Reinstall axle nut with red Loctite. Torque to 185 ft/lbs.
  13. Reinstall wheel, lower car, and torque wheels to 135 ft/lbs
  14. Enjoy your click free car.
Again, this may be overkill and maybe red Loctite with retorquing the nut would have ultimately worked for me. However, I'm 1000+ miles in and have yet to hear a peep out back. Back so silent, brutal acceleration.

Hope this helps someone that is in my previous situation. If anyone has good torque values for the rear suspension, I will update the post.


I would say welcome to TMC but you mention you have been here a while, lurking.

This is a heck of a first post! Thanks for contributing!
 

Mturn0688

Member
Jul 30, 2020
5
11
CO
Thanks for the awesome write-up. I, like many, have the clicking in the front axles. Any attempt this procedure on the front axles?
I'd say a very similar process would work but it would likely change which suspension components need to be undone to allow the axle to be removed from the hub.
 

Perscitus

Member
Jan 29, 2019
902
627
New York
Great write up and effectively what the SCs do (if they do it right) when cleaning and re-lubing the half shaft/axle splines.

This can help eliminate a few sources of clicking related to accel/deccel/accel or uphill stop n go... but the Model 3/Y platforms apso suffer from other clicking coming from LCAs, UCAs, bushings, end links. Often as the suspension is loaded unloaded quickly or the chassis subset to a twist or flex.
 

Mturn0688

Member
Jul 30, 2020
5
11
CO
Great write up and effectively what the SCs do (if they do it right) when cleaning and re-lubing the half shaft/axle splines.

This can help eliminate a few sources of clicking related to accel/deccel/accel or uphill stop n go... but the Model 3/Y platforms apso suffer from other clicking coming from LCAs, UCAs, bushings, end links. Often as the suspension is loaded unloaded quickly or the chassis subset to a twist or flex.

Very good point. I guess you can't edit posts/titles on this forum??? If I could, I would retitle the thread as "Rear Axle Click: Ultimate DIY Fix" to avoid confusion. If there is an admin that could help that would be great.

(moderator note: changed thread title as requested)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

webbah

Active Member
May 22, 2012
1,004
974
Lucerne, Switzerland
Thank you for the awesome post! I'm facing some frustrating issues myself, but with a slight clunking/clicking noise in the front when going over larger bumps or speed bumps. I've already replaced the front sway bar end links, and triple checked the coilovers (KW V3's). It's driving me insane! KW replaced the front dampers under warranty as we thought it might be an issue with the dampers. I then had Tesla replace the FUCA's which solved a creaking sound (the upper outer bolt has an issue on older rev's with the rubber seal deteriorating with road grime and salt). However the noise remains.

I'll have to give this a shot, but perhaps it could be the lower front control arm bearing? @MountainPass sells a high quality lower front control arm bearing that might do the trick. I don't see any rips or tears in the rubber boots for the half shafts, but I should check the torque of the axle nuts. Only problem is I don't have a torque wrench that goes that high. Bugger! Will have to find a shop that can quickly torque those down as a quick test.

I'm guessing the Tesla SC won't touch or fix this as I have after market coilovers. They are so damn sensitive when it comes to mods it frustrates me. I never had any issues with Audi or Porsche with mods and service. I'd do most of this work myself but I live in an apartment with a very small and tight garage which adds to the challenge of DIY.

The other thing I notice is a slight vibration after a hard acceleration onto the highway, but this is not constant. I thought it might be a wheel bearing/hub issue but that would typically go away or can be diagnosed by taking tight turns in the mountains and seeing if it only happens during a left or right turn, etc.

I'm at a loss for what to check so if anyone has any tips I'd be super happy!

I should also state that I thought the vibration might be coming from the brake pads. I had installed Carbotech 1521's and on the Model 3 Performance the rear OEM pads have spider clips to hold the outer pad to the caliper and prevent clunking. I used some CRC Disc Brake quiet and the noise is the same. I then swapped the pads out to the new NRS galvanized backing plate pads (won't rust or separate friction material/backing plate) as these are the ONLY rear pads for the performance I have found that DO include the spider clips like OEM. Tesla does not even sell replacement rear pads and requires you to buy the complete set of new rear calipers with pads, etc. What a joke. I know @MountainPass now sells a mod to fix that for the rear, but in Switzerland we have a lot of challenges with any visible mods that are not officially approved and homologated. So those would be visible and could cause me problems with the authorities. The NRS pads were a perfect fit with no noise or clunking. But my other noise issues remain.
 

Mod Y Guy

Supporting Member
Jul 28, 2017
305
389
California
Purchase a ChassisEAR Diagnostic Kit. It helped to pinpoint exactly where the noise was coming from in my rear suspension on my Model 3. I thought the noise (clunk) was from the rear passenger side and it turned out to be the driver side instead. Tracking down a suspension noise has proven to be quite difficult. I’ll be replacing the rear knuckles this weekend (I think it’s a bad joint/bushing in the rear driver side knuckle). Once you know exactly where the sound is the loudest, which the ChassisEAR is made for, it should be that much easier to resolve the issue. Best of luck!
 

webbah

Active Member
May 22, 2012
1,004
974
Lucerne, Switzerland
Just had a call with the SC Manager and he will clean and grease the front axles/splines/hubs under warranty for me. So happy that I can start there without any cost on my side. And they won't give me a hard time for the modified suspension fortunately.
 

webbah

Active Member
May 22, 2012
1,004
974
Lucerne, Switzerland
Purchase a ChassisEAR Diagnostic Kit. It helped to pinpoint exactly where the noise was coming from in my rear suspension on my Model 3. I thought the noise (clunk) was from the rear passenger side and it turned out to be the driver side instead. Tracking down a suspension noise has proven to be quite difficult. I’ll be replacing the rear knuckles this weekend (I think it’s a bad joint/bushing in the rear driver side knuckle). Once you know exactly where the sound is the loudest, which the ChassisEAR is made for, it should be that much easier to resolve the issue. Best of luck!
Already have the kit. Thanks! Used the kit to diagnose a hub bearing in the past and had the front passenger hub/wheel bearing replaced. Worth every penny for that kit! Tesla actually has the same kit it seems as I brought mine to them and they smiled and brought theirs out to show me. And yet they didn't take the time to actually set it up when I complained until they knew what i was talking about. haha
 

Mod Y Guy

Supporting Member
Jul 28, 2017
305
389
California
Already have the kit. Thanks! Used the kit to diagnose a hub bearing in the past and had the front passenger hub/wheel bearing replaced. Worth every penny for that kit! Tesla actually has the same kit it seems as I brought mine to them and they smiled and brought theirs out to show me. And yet they didn't take the time to actually set it up when I complained until they knew what i was talking about. haha
Oh nice! Wish I knew about the kit long ago. Think you might be on to something with re-greasing splines and what not. I’m going to do the same on Sunday when I replace my rear knuckles. Will use Molykote 77. Think that should do the trick for the lubrication. I’m hopeful your noise will resolve as mine will. So maddening right?! Take care.
 

webbah

Active Member
May 22, 2012
1,004
974
Lucerne, Switzerland
Oh nice! Wish I knew about the kit long ago. Think you might be on to something with re-greasing splines and what not. I’m going to do the same on Sunday when I replace my rear knuckles. Will use Molykote 77. Think that should do the trick for the lubrication. I’m hopeful your noise will resolve as mine will. So maddening right?! Take care.
I gave the SC Manager a call and explained things. He agreed without hesitation to do it for me under warranty. Should take about 2 hours. If they agree to cover it I'd rather not go through the hassle myself. ;-)

I just spent hours changing out all my brake pads and greasing the calipers up to be ready for some summer spirited driving. I'll let them handle the half shafts... Just need to wait the typical "2 weeks" minimum for the service appointment.
 

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