How to Replace a U Joint in a Chevy Silverado

by Chris Moore

A Chevy Silverado's U-joint, also called a universal joint, links the drive shaft to the rear axle and is critical to turning the truck. If the U-joint needs replacing due to wear, rust or lack of fluid, you must remove the drive shaft first. The joint consists of a "cross" held in place within the U-joint yoke by bearing caps. Changing a U-joint should only be done by someone with expert knowledge of their Silverado truck.

Raise the rear of the Silverado and support it on jack stands. Make sure the parking brake is off and the transmission is in neutral. Place blocks in front of the front wheels.

Place reference marks with chalk or water-soluble paint on the drive shaft to indicate its position and relationship with the pinion flange. This will help you in the reinstalling process. On a 4-wheel-drive truck, mark the U-joint's relationship to the companion flange connecting the shaft to the transfer case.

Remove the drive shaft from the truck. Disconnect the U-joint's bolts and straps with a ratchet or flare-nut wrench. Remove the nuts on the center support bearing if you have a two-piece drive shaft. Lower the drive shaft's rear and slide the front out of the transfer case or transmission.

Cover the transmission or transfer case housing with a plastic bag held with a rubber band. This prevents contamination and loss of fluid.

Lay the drive shaft on a bench with a vise. Remove the U-joint's snap rings from the yokes with a small set of pliers.

Place the U-joint within the vise's jaws. Insert a large wrench socket in one end of the joint and a small one at the other end. Close the vise's jaws around the joint. The small socket will push out the joint's cross with the large socket catching it. Remove the cross. Remove the bearing caps from the yoke by gripping them with locking pliers.

Press a new bearing cap 1/4 inch into one end of the yoke using the vise. Hold the needle rollers within the caps in place with chassis grease. Place new seals on opposite ends of the new cross and insert the cross into the U-joint yoke.

Use the vise to press the cap fully into the yoke, placing a small wrench socket between the cap and vise jaw to help push it. Install the snap ring into the yoke end. Place another bearing cap within the other yoke end and press it into place the same way. Press two more caps on the two remaining cross ends.

Slide the drive shaft's front end back into the Silverado's transmission or transfer case (after removing the bag) and tighten the fasteners with your fingers. Raise the center support bearing (for a two-piece shaft) into place and tighten the nuts with a wrench.

Raise the drive shaft's rear into position with the pinion flange, making sure your markings line up. Turn the rear wheels if needed to line up the marks. Install the bolts and straps, then tighten all the bolts (including the ones on the front end) with the wrench.

Tip

  • check If the U-joint moves stiffly after assembling it, strike it sharply with a hammer to free up the joint.

Warning

  • close If the bearing caps have a loose fit and are easily removed, the cap bores are badly worn and you must replace the entire drive shaft.

Items you will need

About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.