- The Washington Times - Friday, December 21, 2001

Have you heard somebody say that cars don't have U-joints anymore, they have CV-joints?

Well, that's true and false. Front-wheel-drive cars have constant-velocity joints, but there are still rear-wheel-drive cars around, and a whole lot of pickups and sport utilities that have rear-wheel drive, which has U-joints on the driveshaft.

The U in U-joint refers to universal, and the fact that they have parts that are shaped like a U. You have a bad U-joint if you hear a clunking sound when you drive, usually coming from the rear.

There are a few different types of U-joints out there, and some will be easier to repair than others. There are two joints, one at each end of the driveshaft. Mark the pieces with crayon or chalk before they come off the car so you can get the original pieces that you will reuse back in their original location.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, you could change the bearings on the U-joint and use the original crosspiece, which is shaped like an X or a plus sign, depending on the position. But it's much better to buy a U-joint kit that contains a new crosspiece and new bearings.

On the U-joint, once you remove the snap rings, use a socket to gently push the bearing out of the mounting piece, which is called a yoke. The new bearings are press-fitted into place on the X-shaped piece after it is inserted into the yoke.

Put the snap rings back in, apply grease to the bearing, re-install the U-joint on the driveshaft, and reconnect the driveshaft to the transmission and rear axle. A cautionary note: Driveshafts can be quite heavy, so use two hands to lift it onto a prop or axle stand, or get a friend to help you.


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