Checking slack/play in drive shaft u-joints - Jeep Wrangler Forum

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Old 04-18-2011, 10:24 PM
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Checking slack/play in drive shaft u-joints

Can anyone tell me the best way to check Jeep drive shaft u-joints for wear? I have a 2001 Sahara, all stock except for 31" tires, 59,000 miles driven and 40,000 miles towed, that developed a front end vibration at around 58 MPH that I just noticed last summer while on vacation. Since it's our tow vehicle behind our motor home we don't drive it much around home the reason I didn't notice the vibration until then. In about 2,000 miles the front tires have been balance 3 times with the right front being the only one needing additional weights or weight moves each time. I have BFG AT tires with about 1/2 the tread left but the shop says before BFG with do any adjustments on the tire they will have to dismount and examine the tire, re-balance the front tires, do a complete front end examination, and remove the front drive shaft to examine the u-joints for any thing that could be causing the vibration. Duh, balancing the right front tire (the left front needed no adjustment at the 2 & 3 balancing) always stops the vibrations for several hundred miles before it starts up again so how can it be anything about the front end. The shop that balanced them the first 2 times said he suspected something wrong with the right front tire but not a BFG dealer.

Not sure I want a tire shop screwing around with the drive shaft and u-joints but thought I would at least give them a good checking myself. Can this be done without removing the drive shaft?

I've been running BFG AT since about 1995 and usually just need to have the tires balanced a couple times during the whole tread wear so this is the first time I've had any trouble with one.

Appreciate any information here.

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Old 04-18-2011, 11:01 PM   #2
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What happens when you rotate the tires front to back? Does it go away?

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Old 04-19-2011, 09:57 AM   #3
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That speed-specific vibration does sound more tire/wheel balance related to me than a bad driveshaft u-joint.
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by KCrisp View Post
What happens when you rotate the tires front to back? Does it go away?
That's going to be my next approach but have been putting it off since I have posi-track differential in the rear and they can't spin one tire at a time on the Jeep to rebalance the offending tire, again. And just figured if it is the tire going bad I'll just be changing one vibration location for another and have to put up with it in the seat and floor boards instead of the steering wheel.

I'm thinking I'll be better off just replacing the whole set of tires with the Cooper Discover S/T or the Goodyear Wrangler Dura Trac (even though I swore 30 years ago I'd never have a set of Goodyears even on my bicycle but i'm reading lots of good experiences with them on Jeeps) and BFG shop says probably $75-$80 will be the best allowance for that one tire on another set of $860 BFG tires.

But I need to be sure the vibration isn't in the drive line somewhere. Don't see how it could possible be but anything is possible nowadays.
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