How to Change Front Axle U-Joints in a Dodgeby Christian Killian
If you have noise coming from the front end accompanied by vibrations or clunking noises when turning corners, you may need to replace the axle U-joints in your Dodge. Before you tear the front end of the truck apart, verify that is where the problem is by trying to move the joint up and down while the truck is in park on level ground. If there is play in the U-joint, replacement is required.
Loosen the lug nuts on the front wheels of your Dodge with a lug wrench. Raise the truck using a jack and support the front end on a set of jack stands. Remove the tires and wheels, setting them aside for now.
Remove the cotter pin from the axle located in the center of the hub using a pair of pliers. Loosen the nut with a socket and breaker bar. You may need an assistant to step on the brakes while you break the nut loose. Remove the nut and washer and set them aside for now.
Remove the brake caliper from the mounting bracket by removing the mounting bolts with a socket and ratchet or wrench. The head of the bolts is located on the back side of the caliper and slides out the back of the caliper.
Slide the rotor off the wheel studs and set it aside. Locate the four hub assembly mounting bolts on the back of the steering knuckle. Remove them with a socket and ratchet then slide the hub out of the steering knuckle.
Grasp the end of the axle shaft and carefully slide it out of the axle housing through the steering knuckle. Set the axle on a clean surface and remove the four retaining clips on the U-joint caps with a pair of pliers.
Press out the bearing caps of the U-joints using a U-joint press. If you do not have a press, you can rent one at most auto parts stores; while there are several different styles, they all come with directions for use.
Remove the old U-joint from the axle and insert the new joint. Press the caps into the axle and stub shaft using the U-joint press. Press the caps into the yokes far enough to install the new retaining rings, making sure they are fully seated in the grooves in the yoke.
Slide the axle back into the housing and install the hub back into the steering knuckle. Use care here and line up the splines on the shaft with the splines in the hub before pushing the hub in place. Insert the four retaining bolts and tighten them to 149 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.
Slide the brake rotor onto the wheel studs and position the brake caliper onto the brake caliper mounting bracket then insert the mounting bolts and tighten with a socket and ratchet.
Install the washer and axle nut on the end of the axle shaft and torque it to 132 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Install a new cotter pin in the hole at the end of the axle shaft and bend the ends over to hold the pin in place with a pair of pliers. Repeat the entire process on the opposite side of the truck if that axle U-joint needs replacing as well.
Install the wheels and tires, tightening the lug nuts, until they are snug, with a lug wrench. Remove the jack stands and lower the truck with a jack. Tighten the lug nuts completely with a lug wrench.
- U-joints come in many different grades for most applications. Purchase the quality or grade that best suits your driving style and needs.
Things You'll Need
- Lug wrench
- Jack stands
- Socket set
- Wrench set
- U-joint press
Christian Killian has been a freelance journalist/photojournalist since 2006. After many years of working in auto parts and service positions, Killian decided to move into journalism full-time. He has been published in "1st Responder News" as well as in other trade magazines and newspapers in the last few years.