How to Change U-Bolts in a Vehicle

What You'll Need
Penetrating oil
Adjustable wrench
Deep well socket
Socket wrench/extension handle
Jack stands

U-bolts are fasteners used in many projects where the surface is rounded. They are commonly found in many different vehicles, where they may secure U-joints, leaf springs and exhaust parts, among others. For the most part, working with U-bolts is much the same as with any other type of fastener on your vehicle. With the right tool you can easily remove or replace them. U-bolts generally are removed with a long socket or an adjustable wrench. If you are having problems with a U-bolt in your car, here are some steps to take to remove it.

Step 1 - Secure the Car on a Flat Surface

Before working on the underside of your vehicle, make sure you park in on flat ground. Jack up the side of the car by placing the jack on the frame near the wheel. Once the car is jacked up, place a jack stand under the frame so that it will support the weight of the car instead of the jack itself. 

Step 2 - Locate the U-Bolt That Needs Changing

If the leaf springs are a little loose, the exhaust pipe rattles or some other noise can be attributed to loose objects, chances are it has something to do with the U-bolts. They can be loose, bent, broke or completely gone. However, look for the damaged U-bolt so you know what size wrench or socket you will need.

Step 3 - Remove Pressure

If you are working around the leaf springs, wheel springs or even the exhaust, you will encounter some pressure on the bolts. A U-bolt has a small metal piece that connects the two different parts of the "U" together with two nuts. When this is under pressure, it can twist the metal tines so that it is harder to get the nuts off. Use a jack to lift up the springs or exhaust pipes while you remove the nuts.

Step 4 - Remove the U-Bolt

Use the appropriate size of deep well socket on a ratchet and loosen up the nuts on the U-bolt. Do one at a time and remove it completely. Once you remove the nuts, you can remove the metal bar between the two tines. Lift off the U-bolt from its position.

Step 5 - Change the U-Bolt

Once the old u-bolt has been removed, you can reverse the process to replace it. Set the new U-bolt into position. Place the metal bar on the two tines and lift it as far as you can. Place the nuts on the threaded portion of the U-bolt and tighten with your hand. Use the socket wrench or the adjustable wrench to tighten the nuts until they are tight enough that the part is not loose. 

Step 6 - Clean Up

Take the jack off the part it was lifting and set it down carefully. Jack up the car again and remove the jack stand. Lower the car back onto the ground carefully and gently.