Nissan Repair Questions? Ask a Mechanic for Answers ASAP
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You can not rock the wheel back and forth, that knocking would be normal. That is the gear slack you are hearing. You can get the same noise from almost any rear diff if you do the same thing.
Even though that noise is normal, If you have a lift, you can just put it in gear while the car is up in the air to duplicate the noise. The issue is still most likely the transfer case. They tend to go on these cars. Most of the time I have seen them fail when you have mix match tires. Meaning all tires are not the same brand tires or size. When you have mix match tires it puts a strain on the transfer case and it breaks or cracks inside.
Do you have all the same brand tires on the car?