Please tell me it is not the differential!

Seeking your wizdom. This intermittent problem just recently surfaced in my wife’s '95 Accord EX 4-door sedan, 241k miles, 2.2L vtec with an automatic transaxle. It seems to have a slight pull to the left consistently lately. Today, about 30 miles into a trip to the doctor, while cruising 65 mph the steering wheel suddenly jerked briefly to the right, it sometimes jerks just once, but frequently gives several short rapid tugs to the right, and the car does move to the right slightly when this happens. I had several episodes of this erratic behavior-then it just as suddenly ceased, only to resurface about 25 miles into the homeward journey.

In the garage at home everything in the steering and suspension and drivetrain appears tight and normal. I removed the power steering belt and drove-the problem was still there. It seems worst when letting off the gas pedal; lifting the foot will result in an immediate jerking of the steering wheel and slight veering of the car toward the right-always right-never left. With the front on jack stands I was able to reproduce the problem sometimes but not consistently. With the transmission in drive I would get an occasional jerk which would move the steering wheel about 1/10 of a rotation, shake the whole car and make the motor jump in its mounts. I noticed a cooresponding dimming of the lights in the car, almost like the alternator was cutting out or slowing down when the vibration was occuring. I could not reproduce this set of symptoms with the transmission in park, or by loading the engine through power braking.

The halfshafts were replaced at 208k and 219k miles and seem to be sound. The transmission shifts normally; fluid is clean, full and replaced regularly.

Any ideas on what is ailing the old girl?

Any tests I can do to pin down the problem?



Other than checking the motor/transmission mounts, you might consider a problem with those half-shafts binding.

Normally, most reman shafts are good but sometimes a rash of bad ones can appear. I’m going through the same thing on one of my daughter’s cars right now.
About 5-6 months ago I replaced the right side shaft and 2 weeks later she said the car was jerking at times, and sometimes very badly. Pulled the shaft out and sure enough it could be felt binding. The parts house swapped it out and problem solved.
A month or so after that the left side goes and I replaced it. Well, now the car is doing the same thing and of course the recently replaced left shaft is on the fritz already. Same symptoms, jerking at times, etc., and so that shaft is going to be this weekend’s project.

Thanks OK. I appreciate the info. I suspected the halfshafts, but don’t know of a definitive test short of removing the shafts, which I was reluctant to do without evidence pointing to that as the problem source.

Keep your stick on the ice!


You were spot-on OK. A new right halfshaft seems to have taken care of the problem.

Keep up the good work!