2002 GEM blown. Differential?

Hey All,

First time post . I just bought a 2002 4 seater with 4500 miles. It was pretty tricked out by a company called OC/Design. So far I’ve just been doing cleanup , installing new seat belts , and cleaning up some bad wiring from the previous owner . Tonight I took the whole family for a ride and while coming out of a corner it felt like something snapped and there was a huge rattling when driving . Luckily we were only a block from the house. I don’t see anything obvious with the half shafts . Could I have blown my diff? Any suggestions on what to check and it comes down to it someone who rebuilds the differentials on these ?



Does your car still drive? You seem to be focused on the driveline and gearbox. Is the noise speed related?
Or does it just rattle when driving and more road surface related? Can you tell if the rattle is coming from the front or rear?

  • Try jacking the front wheels off the ground and running it in place.

If not front end. I think you need to have a look at your rear suspension.

Your hint:

coming out of a corner it felt like something snapped and there was a huge rattling

Does your car also feel a little more loose now? Sounds like you broke your rear swing arm. It is a horrible design and a known issue with the early cars.

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Oy vey…

The dana spicer differentials in the older ones are in pretty tough. If it is really blown, which honestly I think is unlikely, 2002 would be a 10.35:1 not hard to find. At least a few of us probably have one in our garages. What does wear out in the diffs is the input shaft. Rodney “old_houseboater” can sell you an upgraded design part to replace it

If that is the problem. @AssyRequired is one of the best troubleshooters there is. Just let him guide you.

Oh and since it’s a 2002:
Take it out back and shoot it .
Then burn it. And finally driver over it with a bulldozer a few times before burying it

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And finally driver over it with a bulldozer a few times before burying it

What? The “shoot it into a decaying orbit around the sun” plan is a bit too out of budget now?

these OC/Deadsigns carts are 'spensive. Not sure how much the OP has left in the bank.

Your response is expected from previous experience :slight_smile: But i think its a hot ride. Worth keeping if he got it for a steal.

Hey All

Thanks for the input , should have provided more details , the sound is coming from the front , seems to come from the middle , not either side . Sound goes with every revolution of the wheels. Sound like it’s coming from the diff.

I did get this thing for what I consider to be a steal, $4000. It had some pretty serious wiring issues which I fixed on a Saturday and it has about $1k of back registration . I was thinking I could clean this thing up for under $7500 and have a sweet ride. Am I kidding myself?

I’m assuming my next step is to pull the half shafts and check them then pull the diff and manually rotate it ?

Try running it in place.
You can watch, listen, and narrow down where the noise is coming from. If it is an axle then it’ll be jumping around a bit.

If not an axle, then
Pull the plug off the bottom of the gearbox and look for metal bits in the oil. The gearbox doesn’t just go bang unless a bearing is coming apart inside.

If you have to ask…

Put lithium in it and it be will be decent. Still a poor design those years but if you get rid of the lead, it’ll be a fast poor design.

And you won’t be in to deep in terms of cost.

@AssyRequired , here are some video’s of the sound. It really sounds like its coming from the diff / motor and not from the half shafts. My mittyvac is full and I’ll need to empty it tomorrow to pull some of the diff fluid. Stay tuned for a picture of that.

Did you check the input shaft? You have to pull the motor to do it.

I seem to recall similar slop on my 02 when I wore it out. The clunking is kind of a gem trademark. :neutral_face:

But dude, it has racing stripes :slight_smile: It must have more life in it.

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Not yet, but lets see if I can get the kids to bed and get it torn down. Seems like I’m going to have to at least get the engine out no matter what.

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I like this guy.

It does have a sick paint job and upholstery. Too bad it’s got stock front brakes and a stock short GE motor. Seems OC went all show and no go on this one. On the better side, now you can do the go part correctly.

40mph with the 10.35 is easy. Even on 21.5" tall tires.

Stopping from that speed is a different story. :rofl:

Make sure you use a jam wrench on the lower bolt when disconnecting the power cables to the motor or you’ll bust the insulators and maybe even rip the spot welded wire loose inside.

The dana diff on the early carts was the toughest thing in them. Not indestructible, but can take way more abuse than the rest of the cart

Did you even check the oil? That things sounds like it is bone-dry!!!

I’m not saying that adding some 90 in there at this point will fix it,
Because it sounds like things are not happy in there. It needs to come out and that pan needs to come off.
The frequency of the running chatter sounds like the intermediate has some teeth out of it.

I bet a bearing came apart and bits got caught in the teeth.

BTW you have drum and shoe brakes front and back not disc brakes. Nice look.

It was the diff! Got time to pull the half shafts and motor tonight. The sound comes from the top of the diff. Looks like the motor is in pretty good condition but would love some feedback on the pics below.

Sounds like my next weekend will be installing a new differential and front disc brakes while I’m there. Next question, where in southern CA can I get my diff repaired or a new one?

Also this black powder fell out of the motor when I removed it, not sure if this is just normal for 20 years.