XC90 [solved] Noisy diff - failed front pinion bearing

In a previous thread earlier this year i detailed how my XC90 with over 200,000ks on the clock was starting to get a noisy rear diff. At the time i changed the diff oil and the oil that came out looked like brown metalic paint. The oil change and another one about a month later helped quieten the diff, but was never a solution. The diff had to be rebuilt but with only 1 Volvo specialist within 250km of me i guessed it would cost a bomb.

I spent more than a few hours researching for answers and found out that certain models of Landrovers share the XC90 diff. I approached my local (Bathurst) Landrover specialist to see if he was interested in fixing the diff. He was familiar with the problem and said that Landrover do a sevice kit. The issue is the diff pinion bearing.

Well he had the car for under a week, stripped and rebuilt the diff and replaced the haldex filter etc. The car is now as quiet as a mouse and the cost was just over $2k. I'm over the moon.

Here is the worn out pinion bearing.



  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    Good result,a rebuild at indie Volvo shop isn't cheap either.

    Shows how essential oil changes are.....

  • Many people don't even think twice about rear axle servicing

    Until they need to ^^^^^^

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.
  • I'm pretty sure the rear diff in my XC60 has the same problem, the car is approaching 190k kms now and I get a humming sound that starts at about 60km/h and gets loudest at 80km/h. The wheel bearings seem fine so I'm pretty sure its the diff, seems to be a common problem from what I can tell after a google search.

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.
  • Do you think its specifically the haldex fluid that would cause that noise?

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    Well , if its never been changed it's going to fail. Changing fluid may keep it going a bit longer as a reconditioned one plus install labour is not Che a p.

  • Funny you should mention Haldex fluid Joel, thats how i ended up at a Landrover specialist to get the XC90 diff fixed.

    After i changed the diff oil twice and added some Nulon stuff, the diff was a little quieter but clearly needed some major work. I read up about the angle gear (transfer case) and the mysterious Haldex and its oil. So i put the car in for a service at the only Volvo dealer west of the Blue Mountains and asken them to assess the "diff noise".

    They said they heard the noise but didn't know what it was, and asked me to "monitor" it. This didn't fill me with much confidence. Whilst i was paying for the service, I also asked them about the angle gear and Haldex, and asked them to quote for a Angle gear/Haldex oil and filter change. They rang a few days later and quoted just under $1000 to do it, but also recommended that it wasn't necessary or recommended. Based on the quoted cost of a Haldex oil and filter change i didnt bother asking for a quote to rebuild or replace the diff.

    More research on the net, revealed the possible Landrover solution. Apparently the story goes that Landrover offers a diff bearing service kit (true) but Volvo don't (i'm happy to be corrected by those who know for sure). As the diff noise got worse, i spoke to the local Landrover guy, was impressed by his knowledge and booked the car in.

    The only issue has been the poor adjustment of the parking brake, but the car is booked in for next Wednesday to get it sorted. The mechanic has been doing some research and mentioned some kind of linkage underneath the console, which needs to be looked at. Any thoughts or advice to give him next Wednesday?

  • Oh and one last thing - i can't tell if the change of Haldex oil has made any difference to noise as the diff was so loud it drowned out any other noises

  • This link is interesting and they do sell volvo differential bearing kits on ebay, all 3 bearings. Even if its just the smaller one that has failed, the other two probably should be replaced once its open.


  • Yep, thats one of the websites i checked out. To be honest, if i knew for sure that it was only a bearing or 2 making the noise i might have bought a kit, but the diff was making so much noise i was happy to leave the whole job, including sourcing the correct parts, to an expert.

  • This thread reminds me it's time to do the oil for diff and haldex in both the v8 and and campervan spec d5 xc90 I have

    The d5 is now up to 243k and the diff is (knock on wood) silent still

  • Would the rear differential be the same for both diesel and petrol engines in these cars? I am thinking it would be easier to just buy a used low km rear diff and swap it out.

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    Good idea but finding one would be difficult,it's an old car already,any wrecker would have sold a good one already.

    Find one and rebuild it?

  • its a 2011 XC60, so not that old and very common. I've seen the rear differential on ebay and gumtree already and then there are also plenty of general "wrecking xc60" listings too.

  • I changed the oil in my rear diff yesterday, no drain plug so had to buy a pump 🙄 bought a small drill driven pump on ebay for $14 and it worked well.

    The old oil was a little dirty as expected but also had some slight shimmer to it so it is most likely I do have this failing pinion bearing, didn't see any large chunks of metal.

    After putting in the fresh oil in I took it for a drive and I noticed the diff made less noise but there is still some noise there.

    I think I will try buy a low km diff from a wrecker and swap it in and then pull my current one apart to inspect.

    I assume I would need a rear diff from a D5 like mine otherwise the ratio might be different?

  • See how you go with a diff from a wrecker. If you are going to pull the old diff out and install yourself it might be worth it. If you are paying labour for someone to do it for you, it is a pretty labour intensive job so I think you’ll pay plenty to put a 2nd hand diff in. From memory it cost me under $2500 to have my existing assembly removed and rebuilt + Haldex oil and filter changed, and an engine oil and filter changed - all in all pretty good value I thought.

  • I would be doing all the work myself, I've got plenty of experience working on cars.

  • This might help if shopping for parts online - note 12hrs to r&r

  • This thread has all the info you could ever need if attempting to rebuild the diff as a DIY

    I'm still trying to decide whether I should rebuild my diff or put in a used one. After reading the above thread I feel confident I could do it but its just a matter of finding the time.

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