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ive been reading way too much about broken diffs, so now im freaking out. If the the front (or back) diff breaks can you tell immediately, as in it is very apparent that something is wrong with the truck or can it be subtle and you only notice it in turns?
i was driving on the highway at about 60 but in 4x4 because there was alot of snow, however, at one point i crossed a part of pavement that was clear of snow because it was under a bridge. the moment my tires touched the dry pavement i heard a strange popping noise. but i havent heard anything since and ive been driving on the highway since then and it feels fine. Am i freaking out about nothing or could i have messed something up.
 

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Very unlikely that driving straight ahead over a bare patch in 4WD would do anything, much less damage a differential. That is, unless your wheels were turned hard. 60 in 4WD is surely about the limit, though, and maybe a bit beyond.

The differential is under serious strain when the wheels are turned in 4WD, especially in 4 Lo, and especially locked. A very dangerous situation occurs when a slipping tire suddenly regains traction. I'm not saying that diffs aren't going under more "normal"conditions, but it's not anything to freak out about. Most Xterra diffs are just fine; a disproportionate number of us here really use our trucks, and that's where the problems usually occur.

That said, I'm still curious about the popping noise. How many miles since it hapened? But a damaged differential isn't likely going to make one popping noise and then just shut up.
 
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