How to Replace a U-Joint on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

U-joints are important to your Vehicles. Without them, the drive shaft could not spin and move up and down with the suspension Vehicles the same time. Replacing a U-joint is important if you notice clucking noises coming from the rear when shifting into gear or stepping on the gas or if you notice a vibration coming from the rear end. If the U-joint is not spinning true, it will eventually fail. The joint will wear and bind until it finally breaks and the potential Vehicles it to damage the drive shaft, differential or transmission is high.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace a U-Joint on a Ford Expedition

Raise the rear of the vehicle with a jack and support it on a set of jack stands. Be sure to use jack stands that are rated high enough for an Expedition, which are big and heavy vehicles.

Place the transmission in neutral. Mark the position of the drive shaft and yokes with a paint marker so they can be reassembled in the same position. The shafts are balanced, and if the orientation is changed, vibrations could result.

Remove the four retaining bolts at the differential end of the drive shaft with a wrench. You may need to turn the drive shaft to access all four bolts. Drop the drive shaft down and slide it out of the rear of the transmission.

Locate the retaining clips on the U-joint caps and remove them with a pair of pliers. Squeezing the tabs on the spring clip together will allow it to be removed from the drive shaft yoke.

Remove the U-joint from both ends of the drive shaft using a U-joint press. If you do not have a U-joint press, you can rent one at many auto parts stores. There are several styles of U-joint presses available, so be sure to read the directions that come with the press to correctly use it.

Install new U-joints in both ends of the drive shaft and press the caps into place with the U-joint press. Replace the retaining clips with the new ones that came with your U-joints and be sure that they snap into the groove in the yoke.

Align the mark you made on the transmission with the mark on the drive shaft. Insert the slip yoke into the transmission, being careful not to damage the splines on the shaft as you slide it into the case.

Raise the rear of the drive shaft and align the mark you made on it with the mark you made on the rear differential. Install the four mounting bolts and tighten them evenly with a crisscross pattern. Torque the bolts to 83 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.

Raise the rear of the truck off the jack stands using your jack. Remove the jack stands and lower the truck to the ground. Test drive the truck to verify that there are no vibrations in the rear end.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Paint marker

  • Socket set

  • Wrench set

  • Pliers

  • U-joint press

 How to Replace a U-Joint on a 2003 Chevy Silverado

Lift the rear axle of the truck with the jack, and put jack stands underneath the axle. Place wheel blocks around the front tires. Put the drain pan beneath the transmission.

Unbolt the driveline from the axle using an open-end wrench. Pull the driveline from the axle using the pry bar, then pull the driveline out of the transmission with both hands.

Remove the clip on the u-joint at the end of the driveline using the pliers. Set a socket on the end of the u-joint that's the same outer diameter as the inner diameter on the u-joint. Strike the socket with the hammer until you can grab one of the u-joint caps with the pliers. Pull the cap off, then remove the u-joint from the driveline.

Insert the replacement u-joint in the driveline. Install the caps on the u-joint with the hammer and socket.

Install the driveline into the rear of the transmission, then install the other end into the axle housing using an open-end wrench. Lower the Silverado off the jack stands using the jack.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wheel blocks

  • Open-end wrench set

  • 24-inch pry bar

  • Drain pan

  • Hammer

  • 1/2-inch socket set

  • Pliers

 How to Replace the U-Joint on a Drive Shaft

Raise the rear of the vehicle with a floor jack. Place jack stands under each side of the rear axle. Lower the floor jack.

Crawl under the rear of the vehicle and remove the nuts on the rear drive shaft clamps with a socket and ratchet. Hold the drive shaft up with one hand while sliding the clamps out of their mounting holes. Lower the rear of the drive shaft to the ground. Slide the drive shaft to the rear of the vehicle until it clears the transmission tail shaft. Lower the front end of the drive shaft to the ground and remove it from under the vehicle.

Place the drive shaft on a work bench or other suitable work area. Remove the snap ring clips from the bearing caps on the universal joint you wish to replace, using a pair of snap ring pliers. Discard the old clips--a replacement universal joint comes with new hardware.

Place the jaws of a universal joint removal tool over the bearing caps of the joint where it attaches to the drive shaft. Turn the handle of the tool in a clockwise direction until the universal joint has been pressed from the drive shaft. Remove the tool.

Place a new universal joint in between the mounting holes on the end of the drive shaft. Place the jaws of the removal tool over the bearing caps of the U-joint and turn the handle in a clockwise direction until it is fully seated into the drive shaft. Remove the tool. Insert new snap ring clips over the bearing caps using a pair of snap ring pliers.

Repeat the above two steps to replace the universal joint at the other end of the drive shaft, if necessary.

Place the drive shaft under the vehicle.

Crawl under the vehicle. Raise the front of the drive shaft and insert it into the transmission tail shaft. Raise the rear of the drive shaft and hold it into position with one hand. Insert the bearing cap clamps back into their mounting holes. Thread the nuts back onto the ends of the clamps and tighten them with a socket and ratchet. Wipe up any transmission fluid that may have leaked out of the tail shaft. Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Socket set

  • Ratchet wrench

  • Snap ring pliers

  • Universal joint removal tool

  • Replacement universal joint

  • Rag

 How to Replace a U-Joint on a Toyota Pickup

Raise the front of the truck with a jack, and let the truck rest on jack stands. Set the truck in neutral, release the parking brake, then climb under the truck near the rear differential and the transfer case, and unbolt the eight bolts which connect the driveshaft to the frame with a ratchet and socket.

Remove the U-joint cap straps with your hands, pull the U-joint and driveshaft from the yoke, and pull the driveshaft away from the transfer case. Be sure to place a drain pan beneath the transfer case to catch any oil.

Remove the U-joint retaining clips by squeezing them with pliers, then pulling them out with the pliers. Place the U-joint press over the U-joint caps, with the U-joint press screw over one of the caps and the open end of the U-joint on the other cap. Then turn the screw with a ratchet and socket until the cap with the open end on it pops from the yoke. Reverse the press so that the open end is now on top of the other cap, and repeat the process. Repeat this process on the new U-joint in order to remove its caps.

Place the new U-joint up to the yoke, then insert the new caps into their holes on the yoke, and lightly tap them with a hammer until they are firmly in place. Install the new retaining clips on top of the caps in their slots on the yoke. Place the grease fitting into the new U-joint, cover it in grease, and realign the yoke and driveshaft. Place the driveshaft into the transfer case, then move the end of the driveshaft into the yoke, while being careful to align the driveshaft splines with the yoke notches.

Reinstall the driveshaft retaining bolts and retaining straps with a racthet and socket, remove the jack stands, lower the truck with the jack, and repeat the previous steps to replace the rear U-joint.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet and socket

  • Jack

  • Pliers

  • U-joint press

  • Jack stands

  • Hammer

  • U-joint kit

  • Grease

  • Drain pan

 How to Replace the U-Joint in a 1999 Yamaha ATV

Pull the rubber caps off of the rear axle, positioned in the center of the wheels' hubs. Loosen the rear wheels' lug nuts and the hubs' center nut, using a 17 mm and a 22 mm socket and a socket wrench, respectively.

Lift the rear end of the ATV off of the ground with an ATV jack. Unscrew the rear wheel's lug nuts with your 17 mm socket, then pull the wheels off of the rear axle. Unscrew the hubs' center nuts with your 22 mm socket, then slide the hubs off of the rear axle.

Unscrew the rear brake caliper's mounting bolts, positioned on the left side of the rear axle, using a 12 mm socket. Slide the caliper off of the rear brake disc and hang it from the ATV's frame, using a bungee cord.

Slide the rear brake disc off of the left side of the rear axle. Pull the rear axle out from the right side of the rear swingarm. Unbolt the trailer hitch bracket from the swingarm, if equipped, using a 10 mm socket.

Place a jack under the swingarm's final drive gear, to large assembly that the rear axle was housed in. Unscrew the final drive gear's mounting nuts with a 14 mm socket. Pull the final drive gear away from the swingarm and the drive shaft. Set the final drive gear aside.

Pull the drive shaft and the U-joint out from the swingarm. Loosen the hose clamps securing the drive shaft's boot to the motor and the swingarm, using a flat screwdriver. Pull the boot away from the ATV and inspect it for cracks or tears. If no damage is visible, reinstall it onto the motor and the ATV. If the boot is damaged in any way, replace the boot with a new one.

Pull the U-joint off of the end of the drive shaft. Clean the drive shaft with a parts cleaning spray, then coat the shaft's male and female ends with a lithium soap-based grease. Place a new U-joint over the male end of the drive shaft. Coat the motor-end of the U-joint with a lithium soap-based grease. Insert the U-joint and drive shaft into the swingarm and onto the motor.

Lift the final drive gear into place against the swingarm, using a jack. Slip the female end of the drive shaft onto the splined shaft on the back of the final drive gear. Screw the gear's mounting nuts into place with your 14 mm socket. Reattach the trailer hitch bracket to the rear swingarm, using a 10 mm socket.

Push the rear axle through the right side of the swingarm. Slide the rear brake disc onto the left side of the rear axle. Slip the rear brake caliper over the brake disc, then bolt it into place with a 12 mm socket.

Slip the rear wheel's hubs onto both ends of the rear axle. Screw the hubs' center nuts loosely into place with a 22 mm socket. Mount the rear wheels onto both hubs and loosely screw the wheels' lug nuts into place with a 17 mm socket. Remove the ATV from your jack. Tighten the rear hubs' center nuts completely, followed by the rear wheels' lug nuts.

Items you will need

  • 10, 12, 14 17 and 22 mm sockets

  • Socket wrench

  • Jacks

  • Flat screwdriver

  • Parts cleaning spray

  • Lithium soap-based grease

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.