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Old 09-17-2012, 02:34 PM   #1
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Front Axle U-Joint

Hi Everyone,
I have had my 98 TJ for a few months now and have been slowly going through it fixing various vibrations, clunks, rattles, etc...

I noticed a new one today when driving slowly in 2wd with my wheels cut to the left around the circle at the end of my street. I heard a clunk, clunk, clunking coming from the front.

I know my rear sway bar bushings are worn (on the list of things to fix) and I recently replaced a missing front sway bar bushing.

I jacked up the front and started pulling and shaking various things to see if anything was loose. The only thing I could find was some play in the drivers side axle U-Joint. The passenger side is solid. I also checked the drive shaft u-joint and it seemed okay.

I have also been hearing a clunk when backing up or moving forward from stop. I am assuming the u-joint could also be the cause of this also.l

Question is how much play is tolerable before they must be replaced. I thought replacing it could be a good late fall or winter project. This is not my daily driver but do plan to do a few off-road trips before the salt is laid down! Also, it is good practice to do both right and left at the same time?

Thank you

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Old 09-17-2012, 03:15 PM   #2
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Personally, I think that if you can feel any play in a u-joint that it should be replaced. Be careful of the shaft seals if you pull the front axle out to change them... nice and easy in and out.

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Old 09-17-2012, 04:02 PM   #3
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Any play at all in a u-joint indicates it is past time for replacing it. A good direct replacement upgrade for the OE Spicer 5-297x u-joint is the Spicer 5-760x which is stronger and more durable.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:17 PM   #4
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Now is replacing an axle u-joint a hard thing to do if you have never done one before. And what tools would be needed to complete this project?
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:31 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice. I am going to pick up a set of the 5-760x's and change both. I found them in ebay for $21. My jeep has 121k miles so I might as well do both. Do you recommend taking the hub and bearing off the shaft? I have read that it isn't necessary (stu offroad) website.

Thanks
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saf98tj View Post
Thanks for the advice. I am going to pick up a set of the 5-760x's and change both. I found them in ebay for $21. My jeep has 121k miles so I might as well do both. Do you recommend taking the hub and bearing off the shaft? I have read that it isn't necessary (stu offroad) website.

Thanks
Scott
If you're using a press you don't need to remove the unit bearing from the stub shaft. I like to use sockets and a big hammer, it's much faster. Explained in this thread http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/fron...nt-160157.html


Good luck man!!
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:51 PM   #7
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I am going to pick up a press at harbor freight. Just my preference but like to have the tools. Too many injuries from BFH's and the like :-)
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper_Kreeper View Post
Now is replacing an axle u-joint a hard thing to do if you have never done one before. And what tools would be needed to complete this project?
It depends on if you have any mechanical apptitude or not. I just replaced both the right and left this past Saturday. I was a mechanic/body man for 30 years (prior job 10 years ago). I have full professional tools but no press. I spent about 6 hours doing it. Not complicated at all. Just tight and rusty bolts that hold the front hub on (12 point bolts). Once those were out and the hub pried off (hammer/chisel), everything else was easy. I took extra time to clean up the yokes and never-sieze the yokes and bearing caps before re assembling.
Standard hand tools is all that is really needed. METRIC sizes, and a hammer.
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:23 PM   #9
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Ok I am in the process of changing my u joints. I have the harbor freight press. I have on of the axles out, however I did not remove the hub from the shaft. The assembly is awkward to hold.

I cannot seem to apply enough pressure to budge the u joint. With this press it is difficult to push on center and keep the side with the hole lined up with the bearing cap. The hole and cap diameter are close but I think I have it centered.

For some reason this is not as easy as made out to be or I am missing something.

Any suggestions on methodology?

Also I mentioned on another thread that my axle tube is packed with crud. Any good way to clean it out?

Thanks
Scott
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saf98tj
Ok I am in the process of changing my u joints. I have the harbor freight press. I have on of the axles out, however I did not remove the hub from the shaft. The assembly is awkward to hold.

I cannot seem to apply enough pressure to budge the u joint. With this press it is difficult to push on center and keep the side with the hole lined up with the bearing cap. The hole and cap diameter are close but I think I have it centered.

For some reason this is not as easy as made out to be or I am missing something.

Any suggestions on methodology?

Also I mentioned on another thread that my axle tube is packed with crud. Any good way to clean it out?

Thanks
Scott
Before I am asked, I have removed the clips
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:48 PM   #11
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Sometimes a solid blow from a BFH helps. Also, do yourself a favor and pick up a 1" copper fitting brush and cut the handle off and run the bore with the brush in a drill. It really helps on assembly.
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:52 PM   #12
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Sometimes a solid blow from a BFH helps. Also, do yourself a favor and pick up a 1" copper fitting brush and cut the handle off and run the bore with the brush in a drill. It really helps on assembly.
Thanks for the reply. When you say hit it with the hammer. Do do you mean when it is in the press. I read somewhere to do that but they didn't say where to hit it.

Thx
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Old 09-23-2012, 08:52 PM   #13
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Without the press, firmly set the joint on a bench and using an old socket or something that fits into the joint.

I usually clean any crap/rust first then lube before trying to remove.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:46 PM   #14
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Tried that. Didn't budge. Soaking in PB blaster. Going to try a hydraulic press tomorrow.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:27 PM   #15
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Try a big c-clamp or bench vise, both of which I have used to change my u-joints.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:20 PM   #16
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Well I can't say it went smoothly, but I finally got it installed. It took a hydraulic press to push it out. Made such a loud pop when the bearing cap broke free that I thought I broke something. The caps also shattered when pushing them back through the bearing bore.

Well at least it's done and hopefully I will learn from my mistakes :-). First time is always a bitch.

Attached is a pic of the carnage and finished axle.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:27 PM   #17
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Hah that's how most of my old u-joints usually come out too, good job.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:46 PM   #18
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Thanks Jerry!
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Old 10-20-2012, 01:01 AM   #19
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I finally popped my blown u joint out tonight after fighting to get to it forever! I fought rust the whole way in- Lug nuts to get the tire off, 3 pins holding the roter on, and a hell of a battle with the axel assembly geeting the u joint out.
It was crusty- rusted over. I kept spraying it with WD40, then using a hand-held bendable neck butane torch to put some heat on it, and applying pressure in small increments using a u joint tool clamp (Free rental from Advance Auto- $99 returnable deposit.) A couple of hammer bangs freed it up.
Word of warning to anyone who is fighting the battle I fought getting those rusty u joint caps out of the yokes: Mine shot out like bullets when they popped! Wear eye protection!!!
Thanks for everyone's help above. I use this forum all the time!
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Old 10-20-2012, 11:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bktedder
I finally popped my blown u joint out tonight after fighting to get to it forever! I fought rust the whole way in- Lug nuts to get the tire off, 3 pins holding the roter on, and a hell of a battle with the axel assembly geeting the u joint out.
It was crusty- rusted over. I kept spraying it with WD40, then using a hand-held bendable neck butane torch to put some heat on it, and applying pressure in small increments using a u joint tool clamp (Free rental from Advance Auto- $99 returnable deposit.) A couple of hammer bangs freed it up.
Word of warning to anyone who is fighting the battle I fought getting those rusty u joint caps out of the yokes: Mine shot out like bullets when they popped! Wear eye protection!!!
Thanks for everyone's help above. I use this forum all the time!
Good times ...... Try PB Blaster next time. Works much better than WD40. Also the trick on Stu's Off Website for getting a stuck axle out works really well.

Nice job!
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Old 10-20-2012, 03:15 PM   #21
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I got a ball joint tool kit that works really well on U joints.
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Old 10-20-2012, 03:25 PM   #22
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Try PB Blaster next time. Works much better than WD40.
Nearly anything would work better for that job than WD40. WD40 is not a penetrant.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:47 AM   #23
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Good times ...... Try PB Blaster next time. Works much better than WD40. Also the trick on Stu's Off Website for getting a stuck axle out works really well.

Nice job!
Got it. I'll def. pick up a can for next time!
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Old 10-27-2012, 05:38 PM   #24
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Did my today, took about 3.5 hrs. Hardest part was getting rotors off.

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