Something broke on the Mazda yesterday, and I’m not sure what it was. We had piled the whole family in it and drove up to Consumers to play in the snow since we didn’t have any here in Price. I left it in 2-wheel drive for almost the entire drive up, even though there were a few inches of snow on the road. When we were almost at the end of the main road, I decided to push the 4-wheel drive button so that I’d be able to turn around, but shortly after that, something broke, though it felt and sounded like I’d ran over a large rock. Right then, the Mazda lost all forward motion–either one of the automatic hubs broke, or an axle gave out. I got out to look under the car, but couldn’t see anything wrong, but since I couldn’t drive forward anymore, my only choice was to back down the road. After backing for about 1/3 of a mile, we finally got to a place that was wide enough to turn around without getting stuck. My neck hurt like hell from looking backwards out my door, since the back window is too darkly tinted and dirty to see out–besides that, it was almost full dark by then. We made it home after that without any problems, but now the Mazda is only 2-wheel drive until I can figure out what broke.
There’s always been a problem with the automatic hubs not fully disengaging when taking it out of 4-wheel drive, but usually that can be solved by repeatedly backing up and drive forward until the grinding noise stops. For that reason, I’ve been reluctant to use the 4-wheel drive at all, so essentially nothing much has changed. I had been planning on eventually buying Warn manual hubs and their spindle nut conversion kit (needed to convert from automatic to manual hubs), but it looks like I’ll be doing that sooner rather than later. I found both parts from Desert Rat for about $180, and installation is supposed to be a breeze. At least the thing is drivable for now, but I don’t know how long I can stand to go without off-roading in it.

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