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Old 11-04-2010, 12:06 PM   #1
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Front axle u-joint removal

Need to replace my front axle u-joints (I think). I actually found a place somewhat local that carries Spicers, so I'm going to fetch a pair this afternoon.

The Service Manual says to remove the axle shafts. Has anyone actually had to do that or were you able to get the u-joints out with the axle shafts still in?

Any other gotchas I should be aware of? This will be my first time doing axle u-joints.

Thanks!

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Old 11-04-2010, 12:10 PM   #2
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You can try but it's hard to press them out still on the Jeep. Real easy to pull front shafts.

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Old 11-04-2010, 12:21 PM   #3
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Yeah, true.

The time I waste trying to press them out with the axles still in, I can probably save by pulling them out and using a vice.

Thanks!
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:22 PM   #4
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Agreed, you could try but you're going to over complicate the job by leaving the axle shafts in.

There's not a whole lot of room in there and you'll be working around other stuff that gets in your way: tie rod, ABS sensor wire, the steering knuckle itself... To do it with the axle shafts still in you would have to jack up the front axle anyway so you could turn the axle shafts to get to all 4 of the caps, and then installing the new u-joints would be a jockying nightmare getting them started and pressed straight and then you still have the retaining clips to get in too; which are not on the outside like drive shaft u-joints. At that point it's a whole lot easier to just pull the shafts.

I've pulled my front shafts enough to where I can do it pretty quick.
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Old 11-13-2010, 11:50 AM   #5
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Bump...

Working on this today. Any tips for removing the hub/bearing assembly?

Yes, I removed the three bolts and the axle nut. It's not all that rusted either. Do I just have to hit it pretty hard or is there some other trick to it?

Edit: I found a trick in this thread. Hopefully that'll work!



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Old 11-13-2010, 11:56 AM   #6
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First, I hope the Spicer u-joints were their 5-760x which is a nice stronger and more durable upgrade from the factory installed Spicer 5-297 u-joints. Plus the 5-760x is sealed so it is stronger since it hasn't been cross-drilled for grease channels.

Here are a few webpages from Stu's site that may help...

D-30 Axle Shaft Removal
Unit Bearing - 1
U-Joint Replacement - 1
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
First, I hope the Spicer u-joints were their 5-760x which is a nice stronger and more durable upgrade from the factory installed Spicer 5-297 u-joints.
They are indeed.

Thanks for the write ups!

The hub/bearing assembly came off nice and easy using a section of 2x4 between the inside face of the rotor and the frame underneath where the shock mounts and turning the wheel. Hardly needed any pressure at all, they came right off.

Now for the u-joints themselves....
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:34 PM   #8
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I went with the Alloy USA U-joints. Greasable thru each of the end caps, so no crossed drilled holes to weaken them.
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Old 11-13-2010, 01:03 PM   #9
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Here's a couple more helpful writeups:
U-joint replacement - Hammer method
Driveshaft rebuild - Press method
It really is pretty easy. The most difficult part is keeping all those needle bearings where they need to be.
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Old 11-14-2010, 10:06 AM   #10
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Thanks again for the tips everyone. Mission accomplished. Wasn't too bad of a job at all. One of the u-joints was bad, so I guess it's a good thing I did them because I would've had to eventually anyways.

Unfortunately, it did not solve this clunking noise that I keep hearing. Now I'm wondering if it is driveshaft u-joints. It only seems to happen at low speeds and just sounds like a clunk coming from underneath (I thought it was the front at first, that's why I started there). There's no rhythm to it, and it doesn't seem to do it consistently. I already have a set of 5-785x's for the drive shaft anyways, might as well put them in and see what happens. Anyone have any other theories?
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:19 AM   #11
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Remove the front driveshaft or at least disconnect it at the front and zip-tie it up out of the way and test drive it first to see if the clunk goes away. No need replacing the driveshaft u-joints if they aren't the problem either. Good choice on the Spicer 5-785x u-joints for the driveshaft.
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Old 11-14-2010, 01:44 PM   #12
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I'd think trying to change the axle U-joints without removing the axle would be about as difficult as doing a valve job through the tailpipe or heart bypass surgery through the rectum.
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Old 11-14-2010, 03:20 PM   #13
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I'd think trying to change the axle U-joints without removing the axle would be about as difficult as doing a valve job through the tailpipe or heart bypass surgery through the rectum.
lol... Agreed. I had never done them before so I wasn't sure. But now I can see why!

Jerry,

Thanks for the tip. I'll try that first. I don't have the "angry sparrows" or anything, just a clunking noise, but that happened in a truck I had and it ended up being the u-joints so that is what is leading me to suspect them.
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Old 05-07-2011, 02:32 AM   #14
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I will be changing my ujoints this weekend so hopefully it is as easy as people say it is. definitely better than taking it to a shop
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Old 05-07-2011, 03:24 AM   #15
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Beer30, is it a single "clunk" that you can feel through your floorboard when starting from a stop within the 1st 10mph or so?
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Old 05-07-2011, 10:19 AM   #16
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The "clunk" could possibly be the transmission mount on the skid plate is worn or damaged and everytime you start or stop the trans is moving on the mount which can be felt and heard.
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Old 05-07-2011, 10:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Remove the front driveshaft or at least disconnect it at the front and zip-tie it up out of the way and test drive it first to see if the clunk goes away. No need replacing the driveshaft u-joints if they aren't the problem either. Good choice on the Spicer 5-785x u-joints for the driveshaft.
On replacing the Rubi u-joints they have to be pressed in and out because the clips are on the inside. How easy is it to get them out without bending the ears? The metal band around the boot that's on the shaft, how can you remove that without messing it up?
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Old 05-07-2011, 10:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beer30
Need to replace my front axle u-joints (I think). I actually found a place somewhat local that carries Spicers, so I'm going to fetch a pair this afternoon.

The Service Manual says to remove the axle shafts. Has anyone actually had to do that or were you able to get the u-joints out with the axle shafts still in?

Any other gotchas I should be aware of? This will be my first time doing axle u-joints.

Thanks!
The right size c clamp and socket can be macguyvered into a press, but it would be rather tedious to do it with the shaft on the heep.
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Old 06-11-2014, 03:55 PM   #19
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lol... Agreed. I had never done them before so I wasn't sure. But now I can see why!

Jerry,

Thanks for the tip. I'll try that first. I don't have the "angry sparrows" or anything, just a clunking noise, but that happened in a truck I had and it ended up being the u-joints so that is what is leading me to suspect them.
Did you ever figure out what the clunk was? I'm having the same problem and cant figure it out.
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Old 08-16-2014, 09:15 AM   #20
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This thread is very helpful, as I am preparing to replace my front axle u-joints, I have a weird wobble at low speeds when turning.

Anyway, is there anything else I should do while I am doing this? I have a 2001, 110k miles, and I am not confident it was well-maintained before I got it. I do need brake work, could use front shocks too. What about hubs? Or should I take it 1 thing at a time...
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Old 08-16-2014, 09:24 AM   #21
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If I were you I would do hubs and ball joints while everything is apart and the u joints are pretty simple (stay away from torches) my 97 had the original joint in it and a small sledge and punch with a good amount of emery cloth should be no problem for ya

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