So got a the wrangler out for the winter and noticed something bad... A clicking in the front end every half a tire rotation. Realizing this may not be a good thing, I got the old flashlight out and poked around. Now, I'll be right up front and tell you that I can do any maintenance in the drivetrain from tearing an engine down to rebuilding the tranny, but the only thing I've never taken apart or even looked into for that matter is anything to do with steering... Yeah, I'm a little ashamed of that one.
Here's what I found when I poked around. On both front tires, there's a little "C" shapped bracket that connects to the wheel assembly. I'm assuming this is coming from the transfer case and is what actually turns the wheel. Both of those are loose and I can wobble them with my fingers. Yeah, not good, I imagine. My question is this. 1) What's the name of that part so I can order the right ones and 2) what's it going to cost and 3) Am I going to have to drop the whole front end to do this?
If u-joints are clicking while driving straight try to make a complete u-turn either way (left or right) the noise should go nuts and you'll hear a lot more of it. However, I've never heard it to be cyclic (not that it's impossible, just never had it in my experience), it's usually random rhythm with no pattern. I any case you should hear it more distinctively when wheels are all the way left or right, otherwise it could be something else. Oh, and check it they're (u-joints) covered in red dust. Is so, that's your answer.
I'm in the same boat and was told that I'd have to pull the axle out for the job. Considering amount of rust on those I have a feeling I'll have to use some heavy equipment to get those u-joints out. I started taking everything apart when got stuck 'coz I have to go buy 36mm socket for the axle nut and find the right socket for the lower ball joint nut (30mm is a bit loose and will destroy the nut if I'd keep pushing). Speaking of, does anyone know what size socket it is originally?
P.S. ironically enough, the sound they were making was a cyclic clicking noise. I could hear it while rolling straight ahead in neutral with engine off. "You live, you learn..."
I just replaced my joints and I found I had to remove the upper ball joint to get enough clearance for the rotor to move out of the way. This wasn't an issue at the time because I was going to replace the ball joints anyway. It wasn't too hard of a job with pneumatic tools. It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle in figuring out the angle to turn the axle shaft to get the rotor to lower enough to come free from the lower ball joint. If I was you and were going to have all this apart I recommend going ahead and replacing the ball joints and getting all that out of the way. They aren't that much either.
You do need to remove the axle to change the u-joints, but you don't have to spilt the ball joint to do it. Just remove the 36mm axle nut, caliper, rotor and the three 13mm bolts that hold the hub bearing unit on and remove the hub unit and pull the shaft out slowly and as straight as possible so you don't rip the seal.
Those three on the back are 12-points bolts. Are they metric or imperial?
Update: It's a 13mm 12 points socket. It took me 3 days of soaking it up in PB buster (or whatever the real name is) and a 3' bar to get it moving. However ones it starts going I just kept on going in and out while lining the thread to keep it from wrapping up. Came out nicely and very clean.
95 YJ Rio Grande 2.5L 5-speed (We're at point "A". Where is point "B"? Who gives a sh..!? )
02 Triumph Sprint RS 955i (speed junky)
04 Honda Odyssey EX (parent-mobile)