Universal joints are a cross-shaped part that connect your vehicle's driveshaft to the transmission and differential and allow for the vehicle's suspension to move up and down without breaking the driveshaft. Over time, especially with improper maintenance, U-joints can fail and require replacement. Universal joint replacement may seem like a tall task, but it can be done by a novice mechanic with regular tools.
Get it done sooner rather than later - if it breaks completely, the driveshaft will disconnect from the vehicle, which can damage your transmission, the underside of your car, and anything else around it - plus, the vehicle won’t be going anywhere until it’s fixed. We would hate for that to happen to our drivers, so that's why we want to provide competent repairs and service beforehand.
With the driveshaft out of the car or truck, the next step is to remove the joint and its bearings. You'll need to mount the end in a vice, then tap the bearing through far enough to get the joint to drop out. In most cases, a spark plug socket is the perfect tapping tool. Firmly tap the top of your socket with a hammer until the whole thing is pressed far enough in to be able to pop it out.
Press in the new joints. Remove surface rust, especially where the U-joint mates with the yokes and the grooves for the retaining clips. Make sure all the needles on the roller bearings are complete and greased adequately. Do the exact opposite of removing the joint: Press the joint ends as smoothly as you pulled them out. Secure all retaining clips or C-clips.
Reconnect the driveshaft or half-shaft. Align the markings you painted on the shaft or flanges. Tighten all bolts and nuts to specified torque settings.
There are two types of clips that hold a universal joint together. Spicer Snap Rings are one type and are pictured in this article. The other type is standard C-clips and they are quite easy to remove as well. The steps are the same whichever clip your vehicle uses.
To remove the snap rings, squeeze the ends together with pliers or a special removal tool. They should come out easily. If they have become corroded, you may need to soak the u-joint with some penetrant.
Learning how to replace U joints is not that difficult. You need the correct tools and a bit of elbow grease to get the job done. If this still looks daunting for you, a professional mechanic can help you replace your car's universal joint.