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Old 07-31-2010, 05:47 PM   #1
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Front end squeaks & clunks...

Howdy. My son's got a 1998 Wrangler TJ, which I'm jealous of (I've got a 2002 Cherokee Sport). Anyhow over the past few weeks it's begun squeaking & making light clunking sounds when you turning fairly tightly (coming out of a driveway, into parking spaces, etc.). The tighter the turn the more prominent the sound. I put the front end up on jack stands today so I could spin the wheels by hand to try and locate the source of the sound. It seems to be coming from the u-joints right at the wheel. The right wheel spins pretty freely until suddenly it gets harder to spin and then it makes a sort of rusty squeal as you push harder to get it around. Then it's fine again for another revolution.

It initially seemed like the brake pads were the cause, so I replaced them as they needed to be replaced anyhow. That didn't fix things.

So basically I'm back to the u-joint (I'm no mechanic so I'm just making stuff up as I go along). Does that need to be greased periodically? How tight (or loose) should the axle be that coming from the gear box in the front of the vehicle? The right axle seems pretty loose inside the sleeve that it runs through.

BTW - It doesn't make any unusual sounds when the wheels are facing straight. I was able to confirm this even better when it was up on the jack stands. Only when the wheels are turned most of the way in either direction.

Thanks in advance for your help, and I'll be happy to provide any additional information...

- tim

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Old 07-31-2010, 05:57 PM   #2
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What you are describing is the classic front u-joint failure. If the u-joints have grease fittings they should be greased at each oil change. You will need to replace the u-joint as it is already worn if you can hear it and feel it. The front u-joints are not too bad to replace, but the caliper, rotor and hub will need to be removed. The shaft is held in place by the axle hub bolt just so you know. I am pretty sure you can do all of this with a 36mm socket, 13mm 12 point socket and that is about it if I remember correctly. Oh yea make sure and get the Spicer u-joint as they are of higher quality. The u-joint will run you about $15.

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Old 07-31-2010, 11:11 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick, and specific reply! Gonna try it tomorrow. Let ya know!
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