DIY U Joint Replacement

U Joint Replacement

On this page we show you how to replace u joints at home with normal tools and without needing a special u joint removal tool. 

The first thing you'll need to do is evaluate the drive shaft you are working on. You should make sure that the rest of the drive shaft is in good condition and that replacing the joints will be enough to get that old drive shaft back in good working order. Things to look for are loose or seized splines, dented or rusty tubes, damaged or worn yokes. U joint replacement cost us lower than replacing the whole drive shaft but if the rest of the drive shaft is in poor condition you might be wasting your time and money. 

Next, gather your tools. You should have the following tools. 

  • Safety glasses. 
  • A sturdy bench. 
  • A hammer, preferably a ball peen but a claw hammer will work. A 16-20 ounce hammer works best. 
  • Some needle nose pliers. 
  • A large socket, one that you just barely fit an entire bearing cap inside of. 
  • A medium socket, one that is about 1" in outside diameter, it should be just smaller than the diameter of your bearing caps. 
  • A flat head screwdriver.
  • Some rags. 
  • Some WD-40 or similar spray lubricant. 
  • A grease gun. 
  • A wire brush (optional)

Start by cleaning any loose dirt from the drive shaft. A flat head screwdriver works well as a scraper and this is where a wire brush can come in handy. Then clean your work area. You don't want dirt getting into the moving parts of the u joint. This is also a good time to spray around all the bearing caps with WD-40. 

How to remove u joints: To remove the joints you will first remove the snap rings. If you have external snap rings you will remove them using your needle nose plyers. If you have internal c-clip style snap rings you will remove them by prying them out with your flat head screwdriver. Once the snap rings are removed there a couple different methods to remove the joint. Again, a special u joint removal tool is not required. One method to remove the joints is to hit the drive shaft with a hammer while applying slight pressure to the joint. Watch the above video for a demonstration of how this works. Another method is to use the two sockets and hammer. One socket is used as a punch to push the joint through the yoke while the other is used to catch the protruding bearing cap on the other side. This is also demonstrated in the u joint replacement video above. 

Once all the joints are out you should further inspect all the other parts and make sure nothing else is damaged or worn. If you are working on a double cardan, aka CV, shaft pay extra close attention to the center ball and the pin that the center ball rides on. The center ball should pivot freely but should not wiggle up and down or side to side. The centering pin should be smooth and cylindrical and should not be tapered, have grooves in it, or have any visible wear. If the center ball is bad (and it probably is) you should replace the socket yoke or socket flange. If the pin is bad, you will need a qualified drive shaft shop to replace the weld yoke. This is the point at which it really starts to make more sense to just get a brand new drive shaft. If all the other parts are in good shape you should now clean everything, make sure there is no dirt in the snap ring grooves or bearing cap bores. 

Now it is time for the u joint replacement. To install the new joints you will put the joint in the yoke and push it through one side so that the end of the joint (the trunnion) protrudes out the side. Now put one of the bearing caps onto this trunnion. Use your hammer to tap the cap down into the yoke until flush. Then use the smaller socket to drive the cap below flush. Install the first snap ring then turn it around and repeat these steps on the other side. Repeat this process until the joints are all fully installed. 

Finally, grease the new u joints and wipe the ends of the driveshaft down with a rag before re-installing into your vehicle. 

There you have it. Drive shaft u joint replacement is a relatively simple process that most people can do at home with basic tools.