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driveshaft u-joints - how long?

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After hearing a rather bad noise coming from somewhere more or else under me, I discovered that I was in need of new driveshaft u-joints. I ordered a couple of the spicer joints from MSA and went to put them on this morning, but I found that I don't have a wrench or vice grip that it large enough for the job. I brought the new joints to my locate autos parts place and they have ordered me the right tool for the job - but alas, being in Alaska, it will be a good two weeks until it comes in; so here's my question - what it the worst that can happen, if I keep driving with the rather shaky set of u-joint I have now until I'm able to change them? Or should I sacrifice a couple weeks of good fall driving time?

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My guess is that you can continue driving as long as you take it easy on the driveline and keep the speed down. However, if it is vibrating excessively, you might reconsider!


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Wrench or vise grips for u-joints? You can replace u joints with a mallet and a deep impact socket that's slightly smaller than the outside diameter of the u joint needle bearing cap.

Remove the shaft from the car. Open your bench vise just wide enough to set the end of the shaft across the open vise jaws. It helps if you can stabilize the shaft from moving. A helper friend works well! You could clamp the yoke in the vise as shown in the picture but it boogers it up. Take some needle nose pliers or a small needle punch and remove the retaining clips from the inside of all four points of the u joint. Use caution here, as those clips can go flying right into your eyeball! Next, use the deep socket and mallet to drive downwards on the needle bearing cap. Drive it down far enough to drive the opposite cap out of the shaft's yoke. When the opposite cap pops out or is out enough to grab it then pull it out, flip the shaft over and drive it back the opposite direction. Do this on all four axis' of the u joint/yoke assmebly.

When its all apart, use some emery cloth and clean the needle cap bores on both yokes. Then just put it back together while observing how far to drive the new caps on so you can re-insert the new clips in the new u joint kit. If you drive them on too far, you will bind the u joint. Just barely get the clip groove in far enough. And lastly, don't forget to grease them puppies!

Some people beat on the yoke itself to drive the opposite side out, I don't as I don't want to bend the yoke ear.

Picture 1) Internal clip holding bearing cap in place.

Picture 2) Yoke assembly on vise (clamped in this case)

Picture 3) Bearing cap coming out of yoke.

Picture 4) Caps out on two sides, ready for other two.





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  • 2 years later...

ChrisA, thanks for the pictures and the write-up. I didn't realize, from the FSM diagrams, that the clips were on the inside until I saw your post, with the annotations. The FSM drawing has them shown on the outside, like a typical American manufacturer's placement.

I would add, in my case anyway, that using a torch to heat up the metal around the bearing cups can make the difference in getting them out. I'm pretty sure that mine were the originals, and they would not budge, even with a 3 lb mallet, until I heated them up.

Also, for those wondering if loose u-joints could be part of the "clunk", my car went from a significant semi-metallic clunk (a little bit clanky), to a more quiet "thunk" after replacing the four half-shaft u-joints (it sounds more normal now, considering how the suspension is designed). They made a big difference, even though only one bearing cup was dry, and the others were all mostly tight, they barely wiggled at all. The dry one was the only one loose enough that I would have considered it bad, otherwise.

Thanks again, that was good information.

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I didn't read the whole thread , but if you have vibration in the drive shaft because of a bad u-joint. If you continue to drive he car you will damage the tail shaft of your trans. or at least the seal.

I use a maillot and a old socket like was described earlier. Be sure to lube the u-joint . If it has a fitting you will find that they are empty, The grease you see in the cups is there to hold the needle bearings in place. If you don't grease them they will fail in short order. My Spicers took 5 pumps to fill them.

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  • 3 months later...

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