What's it like to change U-Joints?

Reply

  #1  
Old 05-24-20, 09:50 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
What's it like to change U-Joints?

92' Ranger XLT with 2.9 V6 and 4WD.

Is it difficult to change the drive shaft U-joints? I have never done if before. It looks like I have 3.
Any pitfalls I need to be aware of? Any special tools needed?

I remember years ago, I watched a mechanic change my u-joints. There was a lot of tapping on the u-joint to remove or install it.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 05-24-20, 09:56 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 56,967
Received 824 Votes on 774 Posts
It's not a hard job. A vise makes the job a little easier. I've always done my own but I took the driveshaft to my local "go to" auto parts store and they charged me $5 to change it. For a few dollars it was well worth it this time around.

I'm sure there are videos showing the job. The part that always worried me was when installing the new joint and having one of the needle bearings slip out of place.

You need a small sledge hammer, deep sockets that you can use as drivers and needlenose pliers.

Here's a video. In this one the guy uses a chisel as his drive tool. I use deep sockets instead.
U joint replacement
 
  #3  
Old 05-24-20, 10:11 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 552
Received 21 Votes on 18 Posts
The part that always worried me was when installing the new joint and having one of the needle bearings slip out of place.
Yep, when I was young and new to changing them I wondered about that too but soon discovered if one of them fell over in the cup it would not fully seat and the clip would not go on which meant taking it apart again which was never fun. I also found that putting a coat of heavy grease along the bearings in the cup would help hold them in place. And yes a vice is very handy to avoid having to beat them into submission.
 
  #4  
Old 05-24-20, 10:29 AM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 47,110
Received 225 Votes on 200 Posts
A good C clamp will also work if you don't have a big enough bench vise.
I couldn't count [nor want to] the times I've let a needle fall and have to start over
 
  #5  
Old 05-24-20, 11:12 AM
Marq1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 5,853
Received 275 Votes on 256 Posts
I had a Datsun 240Z that needed all U-joints replaced, 6 total.

Spent a week beating, heating, cussing that friggen car, can be easy or a PITA!

Putting them together is a pieces of cake, getting them apart is the hard part.
 
  #6  
Old 05-24-20, 11:59 AM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
I'm in the process of rebuilding the drive line on my post hole digger PTO. Just finished removing the old ones yesterday. Only way I was able to remove the cross was to push the caps out far enough by beating the old cross. Then picking out the needle bearings between the cap and cross which gave enough room for the cross to tip out and remove. Then beat the old caps in to remove them. What a pain. When I did it to my Fiat 25 years ago the caps were relatively easy to slide, not this thing. I guess it's dependent of the u-joint about what you'll experience.

You need snap ring pliers if you plan on reusing the snap rings as the screwdriver trick usually ruins them. Usually new ones are included with the replacement crosses. Having a large vise to press the new ones in is desirable as pounding the new caps is guaranteed to send the needles flying.

Here's one way to do it....

http://www.agequipmentusa.com/produc....aspx?el=65888
 
  #7  
Old 05-24-20, 12:35 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Ok. I'm thinking about doing this during my vacation next month. I'm going to crawl under the truck and take another look before I reply again.
 
  #8  
Old 05-24-20, 01:23 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 56,967
Received 824 Votes on 774 Posts
Like I mentioned.... see what your local auto parts place will charge for labor.
Offer to buy the parts there and have them install them.
It is a cake job with an actual press machine.
 
CasualJoe voted this post useful.
  #9  
Old 05-24-20, 02:33 PM
Rough Rooster's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 416
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
I have a large heavy welding table with a hole in it that is a good fit for U-joint cups. Set the shaft over the hole and use a 3# hammer to knock out the cross. Then carefully reassemble with new joint. Also have a hydraulic press and several vises. Any method will work.

CAUTION! Mark the shaft so you can reassemble the two pieces "in phase" just as you took it apart so as to maintain balance and phasing. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!

Old retired mechanic,


RR
 
  #10  
Old 05-25-20, 05:34 AM
the_tow_guy's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: SW Fla USA
Posts: 11,939
Received 48 Votes on 38 Posts
marksr: I once did an emergency replacement of one of mine on the wrecker under an interstate overpass using a big c-clamp. THAT was an adventure.

As noted by a couple of posters, want to be real careful with the needle bearings when installing the cups. More than once I've had one go out of place and damaged it necessitating buying another one [when your truck has 740K miles on it, you get to do U-joints more than a few times].
 
  #11  
Old 05-25-20, 10:29 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
I surveyed the drive shaft area under the truck this morning.
There is one long shaft between the rear differential and the center bearing with a flex boot (2 U-Joints)
Then there is a short shaft maybe a foot long between the center bearing and transfer case (1 U-Joint)

I saved the .pdf and I watched the video twice. Thanks for attaching the educational materials!
I already started spraying the areas with PB Blaster. And I found the U-Joints specs I need.

So it looks like I remove the long shaft by loosening the 4-bolt flanges at both ends and compressing that flex boot inwards. Then to remove a U-Joint. I only need to loosen two cups to start with. Do I have the general idea?

I'm not sure how I would remove that short section of shaft between the transfer case and center bearing. Do I need to replace that U-Joint too? It's so short, I'm wondering it there is that much stress put on it to begin with?

I attached photos
 
Attached Images   

Last edited by bluesbreaker; 05-25-20 at 10:58 AM.
  #12  
Old 05-25-20, 11:04 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 56,967
Received 824 Votes on 774 Posts
Ahhhhhh...... I see a plus. Those aren't the originals as I see grease fittings.
Replacement joints can come with zerk fittings.
The ones in my truck did and I keep them greased.

In the top picture..... remove the carrier bearing retainer.
In the second picture you'll remove the four tork type bolts.
Be sure to mark the location of the driveshaft on the differential.
You want to reconnect in the same exact orientation.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 05-25-20 at 01:14 PM.
  #13  
Old 05-25-20, 01:10 PM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
4 Torx bolt at diff....remove
4 Bolts that attach the yoke caps at the CSB....remove
Rear driveshaft is now removed
2 Bolts holding the CSB to cross member...remove
Front driveshaft should now be able to be pulled out of transfer case (sometimes retained by spring clip so you hae to pull hard), have rag handy in case fluid wants to drain out

Rehab U joints via pdf or youtube university, reinstall in reverse
 
  #14  
Old 05-25-20, 03:23 PM
Marq1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 5,853
Received 275 Votes on 256 Posts
That looks nice and clean, should be an easy repair!
 
  #15  
Old 05-25-20, 07:41 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Ok. I think I got a good idea of how to do this. I understand the caution about marking the shaft attachment points.

I was thinking I might want to have a pinion oil seal on standby in case it leaks when I disconnect the driveshaft at the differential. I'll call around tomorrow to see if auto parts store will install the U-joints.

I have some time to think of more questions. I'm sure I will need to crawl under the truck a few more times to scope the layout.

A couple questions: When I pull the front shaft out of the transfer case, will a new seal be needed?

Pete, What is the 'carrier bearing retainer' you speak of?
 
  #16  
Old 05-26-20, 09:37 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Red face

Pete, When did you find an auto parts store to install your U-Joints for $5......1948?

I called around. None of the auto parts stores around here install u-joints.I called a driveshaft specialist and he wanted $100 if I bring in the two drive shaft sections
 
  #17  
Old 05-26-20, 10:37 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 559
Received 16 Votes on 15 Posts
might try a machine shop or even a regular auto repair shop will likely have the ball joint /u joint tool but even with the tool or press available there still going to spend some time doing it likely 10-15 minutes per u joint so would expect to pay a lot more than 5 bucks.
 
  #18  
Old 05-26-20, 12:25 PM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
So the solution to my dilemma for pressing them in was to use one of the autoparts store loaner tools. Primarily meant for ball joints, but also had the adapters I could use for pressing the cross in (wish I had thought of it for pressing them out). Did it on my own time pretty quickly.

Btw, the "carrier bearing retainer" is the upside down u shaped bracket holding the CSB that I mentioned you'll have to remove the 2 bolts from.
 
  #19  
Old 05-26-20, 01:19 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Yeah, I was planning on going to the auto parts store after work to check out their selection of loaner tools.
And copy that on the carrier bearing retainer. Thanks.

Any chance you can link a picture or list the part number for the ball joint and adapter tool you used?
 
  #20  
Old 05-26-20, 01:59 PM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
  #21  
Old 05-26-20, 02:32 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Nice. I have seen that tool in the store. Have any of you ever needed to use an impact wrench to loosen the bolts?
 
  #22  
Old 05-27-20, 03:00 AM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 47,110
Received 225 Votes on 200 Posts
While I've used an impact to remove many different bolts/nuts I never have on a driveshaft. Normally wrenches work best. Sometimes it's beneficial to spray them down with PB blaster or similar an hour or day before you start.
 
  #23  
Old 05-27-20, 05:25 AM
pugsl's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 8,873
Received 59 Votes on 55 Posts
When I turned wrenches for a living rebuilt many drive shafts and have used almost all tools shown except the last c clamp type. I always returned to a hammer and vise if one was around. Hammer done right is the fastest.
 
  #24  
Old 05-27-20, 06:00 AM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 47,110
Received 225 Votes on 200 Posts
Hammer done right is the fastest
I have a small ball peen hammer that is the right size for most U joints. It's seen so many U joints that the round end is almost flat
 
  #25  
Old 05-27-20, 07:37 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
I sprayed these with PB Blaster in recent months. I have C-clamps. And the ball peen hammer sounds like a good fit. The replacement U-Joints I found have grease fittings.
 
  #26  
Old 05-27-20, 08:39 AM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
For getting them out....hammer. For rebuilding....vise/press if avail otherwise C-press.
 
  #27  
Old 05-29-20, 07:21 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Ok. Thanks. I probably won't do this till mid June when I'm off work. I might as well replace that center bearing too. I'll follow up probably with another question or two before then.
 
  #28  
Old 06-08-20, 01:48 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Do you guys replace the bolts when replacing the U-Joints? Mine has smaller bolts for the U-Joints and larger bolts for the drive shaft flanges ( or whatever it's called)
 
  #29  
Old 06-08-20, 03:03 PM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 47,110
Received 225 Votes on 200 Posts
I've always reused them. It's not like they wear out ..... but occasionally they get lost
 
  #30  
Old 06-09-20, 12:00 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Ok. Thanks. I ordered the parts today
 
  #31  
Old 06-16-20, 09:11 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
I was planning on doing this repair tomorrow. I sprayed all the bolts with PB Blaster. I should've asked this before. Some of those driveshaft flange yoke bolts have ridges on the bolt heads. Photo below.

I've never seen these before. What kind of socket do I use to remove those bolts?
 
  #32  
Old 06-16-20, 10:39 PM
A
Member
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 559
Received 16 Votes on 15 Posts
just use the appropriate size 12 point socket or wrench most wrenches have 12 points on there box end.
 
  #33  
Old 06-17-20, 04:52 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
Ok. Cool. I have 12-point sockets. I purchased a ball peen hammer today. Thought it would be good to add to my arsenal of tools.

I better check my understanding on a couple points before I get started.

A couple of you mentioned having problems with needle bearings shifting or moving out of place. Do you mean the needle bearings are held in place by the caps and would otherwise fall right out of the U-Joint assembly?

When you talk about match marking the driveshaft............you're saying to mark a couple pairs of matching yoke to flange bolt holes on the driveshaft ends...........................and then reinstalling with same match marked bolt holes?
 

Last edited by bluesbreaker; 06-17-20 at 05:09 PM.
  #34  
Old 06-17-20, 09:38 PM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
You might need to remove the caps in order to insert the new U-joint. The needle bearings are held in the cap by the grease used during manufacturer. They rarely fall out, unless a sharp movement is made to the cap (i.e. by striking the assembly w/a hammer). That is why some sort of press/c-clamp is preferable. It slowly assembles the U-joint. If you don't need to remove the caps off the cross then the needle bearing will not fall out.

Marking the driveshaft prior to disassembly. Mark the flange caps so they install back to the same location. Also mark each section of the driveshaft so it mates up with each other during the reassembly in the same orientation (you don't want it to be 180 degrees out).
 
marksr voted this post useful.
  #35  
Old 06-18-20, 04:35 AM
pugsl's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 8,873
Received 59 Votes on 55 Posts
Did U joint install for many years. The cross section when out of caps the needle bearings can come out. I always added a little grease.in cap to help hold them in To much and last cap won't install. Take zrek fitting out and extra grease will come out there. On install always put your cross section into bearing cap as soon as you can before you press cap in.I was a hammer guy you just have to hold cross in while you tap with hammer . With every tap cap will try to jump out so you have to hold it in.
 
  #36  
Old 06-18-20, 09:40 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
What does Tumble mean by 'flange caps?'

(I'm making progress in my understanding of this)
 
  #37  
Old 06-18-20, 09:47 AM
T
Member
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 433
Received 19 Votes on 17 Posts
Probably inaccurate description, I meant these things

https://fortwayneclutch.com/wp-conte...70-18X_500.jpg

One of your post indicated you had these on your driveshaft. They hold the u-joint to the yoke.
 
  #38  
Old 06-18-20, 12:07 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
No problem, Tumble. I get the idea.

I was a little confused by the match marking because I saw pictures of two different ways of marking the flanges to maintain proper driveshaft balance. But I can see now you just make a white paint mark across where the the mating flanges sandwich together, preferably where the mounting flange bolts are.

I have to get another stand-by oil seal for the transfer case end, and another loaner tool before I start.

Thanks very much for the additional clarification on needle bearing movement and marking.
 
  #39  
Old 06-20-20, 01:31 PM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,254
Received 3 Votes on 3 Posts
I wasn't able to do this repair this week. I There is another tool I need. I'll have to do it on the next available weekend.

Also, The gear shift selector is supposed to be in neutral for U-Joint replacement. Does the entire truck need to be raised on jack stands, with all 4 wheels off the ground?
 
  #40  
Old 06-21-20, 04:13 AM
M
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 47,110
Received 225 Votes on 200 Posts
You only need to raise the vehicle enough so you can get under it. My F100 has a 1.5" lift so I don't even need to raise it to replace U joints. The tires don't need to be off of the ground.
 
Reply
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description: