Replace Universal Joints
Replacing universal joints refers to changing the couplings at either end of the drive shaft, which are an integral component of the suspension system of a vehicle. This process isn't complicated, so anyone with garage access and a moderate amount of automotive experience can accomplish this repair task on their own. Follow these steps for how to replace universal joints.
- Lift up the front end of a vehicle with a floor jack.
- Place jack stands under the front end of the frame to ensure stability.
- Empty the transmission fluid in order to prevent it from leaking.
- Dislodge the fill plug for the transmission.
- Prepare a container for the fluid and disengage the transmission's drain plug.
- Ensure the integrity of the driveshaft assembly by creating reference marks.
- Detach the mounting clips or bolts which hold the driveshaft to the transmission.
- Remove the driveshaft by dislodging the yoke from the transmission.
- Prevent the jostling of the needle bearings by securing the bearing caps with tape.
- Stabilize the driveshaft in a vise.
- Remove the tape.
- Dislodge the bearings from the yoke by detaching the retaining rings.
- Use variously sized sockets along with the leverage supplied by the vise, to force the bearing caps from the yoke.
- Use pliers to remove the caps as they are pushed through the assembly.
- Flip the drive shaft around in the vise and repeat the preceding process on the other end.
- Dislodge the universal joint from the both the yoke and the driveshaft.
- Remove all dirt and debris from the entire drive shaft assembly, assuring that it is completely clean.
- Apply a small amount of grease to the replacement caps.
- Replace the bearing cap by inserting it partially into the yoke.
- Begin installing the universal joint into the cap.
- Insert the opposing cap, partially.
- Line up the universal joint and push the caps into place using a press machine.
- Insert the retaining rings.
- Lift the driveshaft into position.
- Confirm that the yoke is properly aligned with the shaft of the transmission.
- Consult your reference lines to ensure proper reinstallation of the driveshaft.
- Reattach the universal joint mounting clamps or clips.
- Insert the grease fitting and apply grease.
- Inspect the universal joint to confirm proper installation.
- Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle.
- Confirm that the transmission drain plug has been reinserted and refill the transmission with fluid.
- Replace the fill plug.
- Clanging noises while traveling at high speeds is symptomatic of worn out universal joints, but removing and inspecting them is the only way to fully diagnose the problem.
- An alternative to draining the transmission fluid is to hoist up both ends of the vehicle.
- While the driveshaft is dismounted, examine the yoke seal for wear. Replace it if needed.
- Greasing the bearing caps will help to keep the needle bearings properly positioned.
- Do not overfill the universal joint with grease, as this can ruin the seals.
- When using sockets to enable the removal of the bearing caps, be sure that they are small enough to move freely through the yoke.
- Smacking the yoke of the driveshaft firmly with a hammer will ease the installation of stubborn retainer rings.