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.


  1. Lift up the front end of a vehicle with a floor jack.[1]
  2. Place jack stands under the front end of the frame to ensure stability.[2]
  3. Empty the transmission fluid in order to prevent it from leaking.
  4. Dislodge the fill plug for the transmission.
  5. Prepare a container for the fluid and disengage the transmission's drain plug.
  6. Ensure the integrity of the driveshaft assembly by creating reference marks.[3]
  7. Detach the mounting clips or bolts which hold the driveshaft to the transmission.
  8. Remove the driveshaft by dislodging the yoke from the transmission.[4]
  9. Prevent the jostling of the needle bearings by securing the bearing caps with tape.
  10. Stabilize the driveshaft in a vise.
  11. Remove the tape.
  12. Dislodge the bearings from the yoke by detaching the retaining rings.
  13. Use variously sized sockets along with the leverage supplied by the vise, to force the bearing caps from the yoke.
  14. Use pliers to remove the caps as they are pushed through the assembly.
  15. Flip the drive shaft around in the vise and repeat the preceding process on the other end.
  16. Dislodge the universal joint from the both the yoke and the driveshaft.
  17. Remove all dirt and debris from the entire drive shaft assembly, assuring that it is completely clean.
  18. Apply a small amount of grease to the replacement caps.
  19. Replace the bearing cap by inserting it partially into the yoke.[5]
  20. Begin installing the universal joint into the cap.
  21. Insert the opposing cap, partially.
  22. Line up the universal joint and push the caps into place using a press machine.
  23. Insert the retaining rings.
  24. Lift the driveshaft into position.
  25. Confirm that the yoke is properly aligned with the shaft of the transmission.
  26. Consult your reference lines to ensure proper reinstallation of the driveshaft.
  27. Reattach the universal joint mounting clamps or clips.
  28. Insert the grease fitting and apply grease.[6]
  29. Inspect the universal joint to confirm proper installation.
  30. Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle.
  31. Confirm that the transmission drain plug has been reinserted and refill the transmission with fluid.[7]
  32. 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.