How to Remove a U-Joint on a Chevy

by Kevin Mclain

A universal joint inside of a Chevy model vehicle is responsible for turning the driveshaft. The U-joints attach at one end of the driveshaft to the back of the transmission and at the other end of the driveshaft to the rear differential. Once the transmission engages, the transmission yoke turns the front U-joint, which then turns the driveshaft. The driveshaft then turns the yoke on the rear differential that turns both rear wheels. Over time, the U-joints wear out from the excessive turning of the driveshaft. Replace the U-joints if the driveshaft shows any signs of slack.

Park the Chevy on a level surface and engage the parking brake.

Position the wheel chocks in the front of both rear wheels and behind both rear wheels.

Slide under the Chevy near the driver's side door and locate the end of the driveshaft attached to the yoke on the back of the transmission. Mark the top of the transmission yoke with a piece of chalk. Mark the top of the driveshaft with the chalk. This ensures the driveshaft re-installs in the same direction that it came out.

Loosen and remove the U-joint strap bolts from the front U-joint with a 1/2-inch drive ratchet and a socket. Pull back on the front of the driveshaft until it is free of the transmission yoke. If the driveshaft does not move, use the handheld sledgehammer to tap the top front of the driveshaft toward the rear differential until the front U-joint is free of the transmission yoke. Gently place the front of the driveshaft on the surface.

Move to the rear of the driveshaft and mark the top of the rear differential yoke with the piece of chalk. Mark the top of the driveshaft with the piece of chalk. Remove the U-joint strap bolts from the rear U-joint with the ratchet and socket. Pull back on the driveshaft and place it on the surface. Use the handheld sledgehammer if necessary.

Slide the driveshaft out from under the vehicle and place one end of the driveshaft in a vise. Ensure that the U-joint caps face up and down inside of the vise. Position the U-joint as close to the vise as possible to help the vise hold the driveshaft in place, while you hammer the U-joint caps out.

Remove the snap rings off the top of each U-joint cap with the snap ring pliers. Squeeze the snap rings together and pull outward on the snap rings to remove them from the U-joint caps.

Locate a socket that fits over the top of the top U-joint cap. The Chevy model vehicles require either a deep-well 3/4-inch socket or a 11/16-inch deep-well socket. Place the end of the socket over the top of the U-joint cap. Put the safety glasses on and tap the top of the socket with the handheld sledgehammer until the bottom U-joint cap comes completely out of the bottom of the driveshaft end. Use Channellock pliers, if needed, to finish pulling the bottom U-joint cap out of the driveshaft end.

Loosen the vise and turn the driveshaft so that the part of the U-joint with no cap is now facing upward. Tighten the vise. Place the socket over the end of the U-joint and tap the top of the socket until the other cap is completely off the other side of the U-joint and out of the end of the driveshaft. Use the pliers, if needed, to remove the other cap. Upon completion of the removal of both caps from the U-joint, remove the U-joint from the end of the driveshaft. Pull the U-joint out with your hands.

Remove the caps from the new -U-joint and slide the new U-joint into the end of the driveshaft. Position the new caps over the ends of the new U-joint and use the vise to compress the caps onto the U-joint ends. Compress the caps completely onto the U-joint ends and use the snap ring pliers to lock the snap rings in place over the new U-joint caps.

Loosen the vise and turn the driveshaft over so that the other end of the driveshaft is in the vise. Tighten the vise and repeat the same steps as outlined above to remove and replace the U-joint from the end of the driveshaft.

Re-install the driveshaft to the transmission yoke and the rear differential yoke by matching up the chalk marks. Torque the strap bolts down to 35 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and a socket.

Tip

  • check The entire process of removing the U-joints from the Chevy driveshaft revolves using a proper size deep-well socket to tap the U-joint caps out of the driveshaft ends. You may also use the vise to push the old U-joint caps off the U-joints and to push the new U-joint caps onto the new U-joint ends. Ensure that the vise is very tight to hold the ends of the driveshaft steady while the U-joint caps are being hammered off the U-joint ends.

Warning

  • close Wear safety glasses when tapping on any type of metal to prevent metal shavings from getting into your eyes.

Items you will need

About the Author

Kevin Mclain has more than 20 years of automotive, home improvement and landscaping experience. He has been writing for various online publications since 2002. Mclain has U.S. Army certification in automotive maintenance and repair, among more than 15 additional certifications related to the automotive field.