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Help please! 2007 Mule 3010 Trans4x4 Diesel drive system problem


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I have a pre-owned 2000 Kawasaki Mule 2510 4x4 Diesel that I believe is having a drive system problem. There are two symptoms occurring that are perhaps related or separate problems: one is that when turning the vehicle sharp to the right I hear and feel some rough abnormal vibration/shutter as though a front drive axle is worn and failing. The other symptom is an intermittent abnormal vibration and occasional subtle knocking sound/sensation that seems to be coming from the front drive system; it is rhythmic relative to vehicle speed and does not only occur when turning the vehicle but rather it seems to randomly occur more often when the vehicle is moving straight. It's also noticeable in reverse but the sound is more of a rhythmic squeal that seems to be coming from the front drive system. This symptom has not been constant but it has progressively become more common in the last two weeks since I first noticed it.

Based on appearance of components at an easy glance, it looks like the left front drive axle assembly is old and perhaps worn to the point of needing replacement - it's possibly the original, the assembly on the right side is clearly newer and must have been replaced under previous ownership. I would guess this is likely the root problem of the first symptom I explained with respect to turning the vehicle and experiencing abnormalities but could it also be the cause for the other symptoms I'm experiencing or might there be something else wrong with the vehicle?

Has anybody out there experienced something similar to what I'm describing? Can any body provide me with some confident possibilities of what the problem or problems might be? I would greatly appreciate some help, thank you!

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  • 1 month later...

You need to check drive shaft phasing. Google "drive shaft phasing" or check your manual. It sounds like its binding and wasn't put together correctly. Also, are you 100% sure it is unlocking out of 4x4 ? Signed Kawasaki Mule Expert.

Thanks for your response to my topic! I'm not an experienced mechanic so troubleshooting this issue has been a little challenging but I've learned a lot and believe that I've figured out the problem. The main issue definitely has to do with the drive shaft as you've suggested, and I'm hoping it's as simple as replacing the far front u-joint which was blown out and sloppy. This appears to be resulting in at least some of the noise I've been hearing. Prior to recognizing that the u-joint was blown out, I had already replaced both front axles and wheel bearings. One of the old axles was pretty bad and the opposite side had a failing wheel bearing so that had me thinking the problem would be solved once the new parts were installed. However after replacing both axles and wheel bearings, the problem still persisted and was rapidly getting worse with little drive time during the morning I did the post repair test drive. At that point I immediately suspected it had to be a problem in the drive shaft so I started inspecting it and came to discover that the far front u-joint was toast.

I'm currently waiting on the new u-joint to arrive so once I have it installed I will provide an update on the status. Thanks again for your response, I greatly appreciate it!

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Just an FYI, keep that mule in 2wd, except when absolutely necessary. Like when you're approaching some sloppy mud, or a hill, that you know will require 4wd. I'm not saying to wait until you're not moving / stuck. Just saying to not ride around in 4wd. Every turn you make, when the wheels have solid ground under them, will cause wear, of the type you've described. Even dry dirt, although concrete is the worst.

Now that being said, the gears, and seals will dry up, if not used. What I do, is put the unit in 4wd, on long straight lengths of road. No turns. Keeping everything lubed, and happy. Only shifting into 4wd, as I approach the mud, yet before I'm in it. Shifting back into 2wd immediately after. As others have said before, it's best to use a little reverse, to help make that shift back to 2wd.

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Just an FYI, keep that mule in 2wd, except when absolutely necessary. Like when you're approaching some sloppy mud, or a hill, that you know will require 4wd. I'm not saying to wait until you're not moving / stuck. Just saying to not ride around in 4wd. Every turn you make, when the wheels have solid ground under them, will cause wear, of the type you've described. Even dry dirt, although concrete is the worst.

Now that being said, the gears, and seals will dry up, if not used. What I do, is put the unit in 4wd, on long straight lengths of road. No turns. Keeping everything lubed, and happy. Only shifting into 4wd, as I approach the mud, yet before I'm in it. Shifting back into 2wd immediately after. As others have said before, it's best to use a little reverse, to help make that shift back to 2wd.

Thank you for your suggestions and information, I will most definitely put it into practice! I've done well about keeping my use of the 4x4 feature to a minimal and I only engage it when necessary as you suggested. I was told to run the vehicle in reverse for at least one complete tire rotation after disengaging the 4x4 function, so I've been doing that but I hadn't ever heard to engage the 4x4 feature simply for the purpose of keeping components lubed and preventing stagnation/drying of those critical components; I will definitely make it a point to begin doing as you've suggested - occasionally run the vehicle in 4wd on long straight lengths of road with no turns.

The main problem I was experiencing noise from ended up being that the far front U-joint on the drive/propeller shaft was blown out and needed replacing. I finally got a new u-joint installed yesterday and upon test driving the vehicle, I did not experience any of the noises/symptoms that prompted my post of this topic and all the work I've done on the vehicle in recent weeks. However, I'm now curious about something after getting the drive/propeller shaft installed with the new u-joint. I noticed that there is a small amount of play or slop at the far front union where the drive shaft yoke connects to the splines of the bevel gear at the gear box. Do you know if this is normal? I inspected the splines of the bevel gear and the corresponding splines on the yoke of the drive shaft and did not see any obvious signs of wear that might warrant replacing the components so I'm assuming this play I'm referring to is normal. What are your thoughts about that? I don't hear any abnormal or concerning noise coming from that location when driving the vehicle so I'm hoping it's nothing to worry about.

Again, thank you for your response and suggestions, it is greatly appreciated!

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I have a pre-owned 2000 Kawasaki Mule 2510 4x4 Diesel that I believe is having a drive system problem. There are two symptoms occurring that are perhaps related or separate problems: one is that when turning the vehicle sharp to the right I hear and feel some rough abnormal vibration/shutter as though a front drive axle is worn and failing. The other symptom is an intermittent abnormal vibration and occasional subtle knocking sound/sensation that seems to be coming from the front drive system; it is rhythmic relative to vehicle speed and does not only occur when turning the vehicle but rather it seems to randomly occur more often when the vehicle is moving straight. It's also noticeable in reverse but the sound is more of a rhythmic squeal that seems to be coming from the front drive system. This symptom has not been constant but it has progressively become more common in the last two weeks since I first noticed it.

Based on appearance of components at an easy glance, it looks like the left front drive axle assembly is old and perhaps worn to the point of needing replacement - it's possibly the original, the assembly on the right side is clearly newer and must have been replaced under previous ownership. I would guess this is likely the root problem of the first symptom I explained with respect to turning the vehicle and experiencing abnormalities but could it also be the cause for the other symptoms I'm experiencing or might there be something else wrong with the vehicle?

Has anybody out there experienced something similar to what I'm describing? Can any body provide me with some confident possibilities of what the problem or problems might be? I would greatly appreciate some help, thank you!

I have to clarify some information regarding the model of my Mule. When I originally created this topic I was under the false impression that I have a 2007 Mule 3010 model because the manual I have at work is for this model. However, once I removed the accessory cab assembly to work on the radiator and access the brake cylinder, I revealed the model emblem on the front panel that was covered up by the cab assembly and discovered that the vehicle I have is actually a Mule 2510 4x4 Diesel (KAF950A). According to the records of the local business where the vehicle was purchased second hand, it is a 2000 production. So please excuse the incorrect model indication in the topic title - I can not figure out how to edit that.

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Just going by the amount, and type of parts you've replaced. I'd say that a little bit of "slop" could be considered normal. Since a lot of people leave these machines in 4wd a lot of the time, not knowing the consequences. As long as it doesn't get worse, I wouldn't worry.

That's kind of what I figured; I'll keep an eye on it to see if any change occurs over time. This machine is getting old and does look like it was neglected to some degree under previous ownership so i wouldn't be surprised if the "slop" I'm observing was caused by unnecessary use of the 4wd.

Thanks again for your help, I greatly appreciate it!

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