Universal joints (U-joints) are found in pairs on the driveshaft and it compensates for the height misalignment between the transmission and the rear axle meanwhile transferring power needed to move the vehicle.
This makes it possible for each end of the driveshaft and its related universal joint to bend with each rotation of the driveshaft to best manage the misalignment. U-joints are fitted to most rear-wheel drive trucks, SUVs, off-road vehicles, and four-wheel-drive trucks. U-joints can also get worn or damaged and would require changing.
Symptoms Of Bad U Joints
Unlubricated metal-on-metal friction between the bearings and the trunnion creates a squeaking noise. This noise is more pronounced at a slower speed. Try to lubricate if you can.
Movements within the joint cause the driveshaft to slam around when engaged. This is most noticeable when shifting between the drive and reverse gear. Sometimes it’s a clicking or popping sound. You can fix this problem by replacing the U-joint.
Severe U-joint wear can throw the driveshaft out of balance, causing the constant tremor. The transmission can also sustain damage. The only way to fix this problem is by replacing the U-joint.
Leaking transmission could be a symptom of another different problem entirely although driveshaft vibration caused by a loose U-joint can spoil the seal on the transmission. This can be fixed by working on the transmission and replacing the U-joint.
Inability Of Vehicle To Move
Although this sounds self-explanatory and easy to notice, U-joint failure can prevent the driveshaft from working so the vehicle might be in gear but can’t be driven. A drive shaft replacement can fix this problem.
Disconnected Drive Shaft
This occurs when the U-joint has been completely ruptured and can’t keep the driveshaft connected any longer. This leaves the drive shaft on the ground. It might need a driveshaft replacement if the driveshaft got damaged in the process.
Causes Of U-joint Damage
Normal wear and tear most times is the original culprit of U-joint damage but other times the problem can be addressed to lack of lubrication of the bearings, vehicle modification, or extreme vehicle use which affects the driveshaft angle or speed. Here are some of the known causes and replacement suggestions for bad U-joints.
Wear and Tear
U-joints may have a very long lifespan but no matter how you maintain them, they must wear out with regular usage. In the case of SUVs and trucks used for hauling, towing, and off-roading, the U-joint is more likely to wear faster.
In some instances, a bad U-joint can be traced back to a lack of adequate lubrication. Having suitable chassis grease for your U-joint is important for a smooth bearings operation.
Pushing your vehicles to extreme levels like racing, off-road, or recurrent excessive payload towing can strain the driveshaft and wear the U-joint faster.
The U-joint is a crucial part of your vehicle, quality should be of utmost priority when purchasing a replacement. Numerous factors can speed up the wear and cause premature failure so you must not go for a U-joint replacement that is below standard. U-joints are much cheaper to replace than a transmission work or buying a new driveshaft. Changing a faulty U-joint at the first sign of trouble is a smart decision. U-joints, come in different designs to suit your kind of vehicle.
Daniels, J. (2019, 10 9). Symptoms of Bad Joints. Retrieved from https://www.suspension.com/blog/symptoms-of-bad-u-joints/
GMB Your success is our Future. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.gmb.net/in-doubt-change-out/