How to Replace the Universal Joint in a Ford Ranger

by Jeffrey Caldwell

The universal joint (also known as a U-joint) on a Ford Ranger pickup connects the drive shaft to the rear axle. Power generated by the engine travels through the transmission and drive shaft. The design of the universal joint allows it to rotate while bending to compensate for different drive line angles, while the rear axle moves up and down. The rear suspension compresses when traveling over uneven road surfaces, and the universal joint ensures your Ranger can move over rough terrain.

Removing the Drive Shaft

1

Open the hood and disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal. Loosen the retaining bolt using a wrench; then pull the clamp off the terminal.

2

Raise the rear of the Ranger, using an automotive jack. Support the truck with jack stands placed underneath the rear axle.

3

Raise the front of the truck, using an automotive jack. Support it with jack stands placed underneath the frame.

4

Mark the relationship between the drive shaft and the transmission tail housing, using white paint or chalk. You will be removing the drive shaft and must reinstall it in the same relative position.

5

Mark the relationship between the drive shaft and the pinion flange on the rear axle, using the white paint or chalk.

6

Unscrew the nuts and bolts that secure the universal joint circular flange to the pinion flange on the rear axle, using a socket.

7

Lower the drive shaft, and slide it underneath the rear axle to separate it from the transmission. Then remove the drive shaft from the truck.

Removing the Universal Joint

1

Secure the drive shaft in a bench vise with the universal joint facing upward.

2

Pull the snap rings from the bearing caps, using snap ring pliers. Insert the posts on the end of the pliers into the holes in the snap rings. Close the pliers to compress the rings, then pull the rings from the bearing caps.

3

Press the bearings caps out of the drive shaft, using U-joint tool T74P-4635-C or equivalent. The tool resembles a large C-clamp. The bottom end will have a hole large enough so that the bearing cap can be driven into it.

4

Pull the bearing caps out of the drive shaft, using locking pliers.

5

Lift the universal joint out of the drive shaft.

Installing a Universal Joint

1

Place a new bearing cap onto the outside of the yoke.

2

Place the universal joint into the center of the yoke.

3

Press the bearing cap onto the universal joint, using the U-joint tool.

4

Install the snap ring on the outside of the bearing cap, using the snap ring pliers.

5

Place a new bearing cap onto the opposite side of the yoke.

6

Press the bearing cap onto the universal joint, using the U-joint tool.

7

Install the snap ring on the outside of the bearing cap, using the snap ring pliers.

8

Slide the circular flange onto the remaining sides of the universal joint.

9

Press the bearing caps through the circular flange onto the universal joint, using the U-joint tool.

10

Install the snap rings behind the bearing caps, using the snap ring pliers.

Reinstalling the Drive Shaft

1

Slide the drive shaft into the transmission tail housing, aligning the marks you made during disassembly.

2

Lift the rear of the drive shaft up to the pinion flange. Reinstall the nuts and bolts that connect the drive shaft to the rear axle. Align the marks you made during disassembly.

3

Lower the Ranger.

4

Reconnect the ground cable to the negative battery terminal. Slide the clamp over the terminal, and tighten it using a wrench.

Tip

  • check Plug the rear of the transmission when the drive shaft is removed to avoid contamination and excessive fluid loss.

Warning

  • close Always follow the instructions listed in the owner's manual when lifting or lowering a vehicle. Failure to do so could cause injury or death.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

Jeffrey Caldwell has been a freelance writer for over five months and has published over 250 articles on websites like eHow and Trails.com. Caldwell writes articles on a wide range of topics including travel, camping and automotive mechanics. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Millersville University.

Photo Credits

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