Symptoms of a bad u-joint include excessive vibration, squealing and clunking noises
Whether you're driving a four-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive vehicle, there will be what's referred to as the universal joints or the u-joints.
These U joints are responsible for ensuring that your vehicle's driveshaft moves smoothly and transfers the required energy without getting affected by the movement of the suspension system.
Since the u-joints are one of the most durable components in your vehicle, many drivers neglect them, and taking care of a U joint is on the bottom of most drivers' To-Do List.
When the u-joints go bad, they can cause multiple complications that you never want to deal with. The good news is that when the u-joint goes bad, you will notice through some commonly reported symptoms of a bad U joint.
This article will list the different symptoms for you and provide you with a general overview of the u-joints main role in your vehicle. It will also provide you with a rough estimate of the expected repair costs for replacing the u-joint.
What is the u-joint, and what does it do?
The u-joint is responsible for allowing the driveshaft to move up and down with the suspension system. With the u-joint, one should not be worried about transferring the energy successfully from the transmission to the wheels even when the drive shaft is moving up and down.
U joints can exist in multiple devices spot most likely connected to the drive shafts and are referred to as the popular shafts.
The u-joints usually come in the same cross shape which is connected to four different cups that and a bearings. These cups are usually lubricated to allow the bearings to move smoothly without causing any frictions.
The number of U joints differs depending on the suspension type. For instance, there are two different U joints in a rear-wheel-drive at each drive shaft location. These U joints are connected to the yokes responsible for allowing the drive shaft to move whenever you accelerate or hit a bump in the road.
On the other hand, there are also two U joints in a four-wheel drive vehicle, but they have different shapes and are called constant velocity joints. These joints are designed in a way allowing them to adjust depending on your vehicle's steering changes.
Since the U joints can differ depending on the suspension system, symptoms of a bad U joint can differ depending on the type of your suspension system. For instance, you might notice some clanking sound when the u-joint goes bad in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. However, that noise becomes more like clicking noise if you're driving a front-wheel-drive car.
What are the common symptoms of a bad U joint?
U joints are not designed to last forever, and there will be a point of time where you must deal with some damages requiring replacing them. Causes of U joint damages differ depending on your driving style and driving environment.
U joints go bad in most scenarios due to a problem with corrosion, regular wear, and insufficient lubrication.
The good news is that the u-joints will let you know that they are going bad before they even do. Here are some of the top reported symptoms of a bad U joint in any vehicle:
Since the u-joints are connected directly to the driveshafts that will move up and down in response to your suspension system behavior, once the u-joints go bad, the first thing you will notice is excessive vibration.
Vibration becomes more severe, especially if you are driving at highway speeds.
Clicking or squeaking noises
When the u-joint does not have the required amount of lubrication, you will most likely hear weird cylinder squeaking noises as the metal components interact with each other and causing some frictions.
The unique thing about this Squeaking noise of the u-joints is that it's not responding directly to your vehicle's rotation. This is because the drive shaft rotates at a faster speed than the wheels. Thus, you won't immediately notice that the clicking noise corresponds directly to your vehicle's speed.
When your U joint goes bad, and if you tried to change gears, you might hear strong clunking noises. This noise becomes much higher if you are trying to accelerate or deaccelerate.
According to several customers, the clunking noise becomes much more noticeable if you're trying to switch between the reverse and forward gears in your transmission.
How much does it cost to replace a bad u-joint?
In general, U joint replacement cost ranges from $255 to $282. Keep in mind that this range includes both labor and parts costs.
To look closely at each component, parts costs are only about $149 while labor cost varies from $106.00 and 133 dollars.
That's why multiple drivers prefer to have their vehicle repaired at a small repair shop because labor cost is much lower than the dealership.
However, if you're driving a modern vehicle, it is recommended that you still go to your automaker's dealership to get the problem resolved there because you are confident that experienced mechanics who know the vehicle very well are going to do the repairs.
If you are confident enough and have the required mechanical skill sets, you can also replace the u-joints by yourself. Keep in mind that replacing the u-joints is not a simple job, and it requires certain toolsets for the job to be done successfully.
The other thing to keep in mind is that most DIYs do not work the first time. Therefore if you're planning to replace the u-joints for the first time, you'd better evaluate the situation and make sure that you're ready enough so you don't introduce major complications that the vehicle that might cost you thousands of dollars just because you want to save a couple $100 on labor costs
Can I drive my car with a bad the u-joint?
When the u-joints go bad, you might be able to drive your vehicle for a couple of miles. However, there are certain situations where the u-joint might be associated with some transmission leakage. If that's the case, you must stop driving your vehicle immediately, and instead, you should consult a professional mechanic to detail the vehicle to the repair shop.
What you can do to stay on the safe side is to reach out to your mechanic. Give them a call and describe the situation. Take a closer look under the vehicle and see if there are any signs of leaks. Remember that some leaks might not be obvious, which means that the transmission leak might drop on hot surfaces, which makes it evaporate immediately.
How often do the u-joints fail?
According to automotive experts, U joints are very durable, and they're not expected to fail before 5000 miles. However, it's important for you as a driver to keep an eye for any symptoms of a bad U joint that might occur before the 5000 miles.
Remember that most of the symptoms we mentioned can be linked to other major internal issues in your car. Thus, before attempting to replace your new joints, you need to confirm that it's the real root of the problem by performing a thorough inspection.
Is it worth replacing about the u-joint?
Answering this question depends heavily on your circumstances. In general, replacing the u-joint is not an expensive job which means that if your vehicle is worth repairs, you should go ahead and do it.
But, before you perform these repairs, you need to evaluate the situation and compare the total repair costs to your vehicle's overall value.
When we mention repairing costs, we indicate any repairs your vehicle needs. This also covers any regular maintenance, including oil change, tire rotations, etc.
After determining the total repair costs, you need to compare this cost to your vehicle's overall value and see after fixing the vehicle will its value increase or not?
In some older vehicles, customers are advised to compare the total repair costs to the overall value of your vehicle and determine whether repair costs are getting close to 75% or more from the value of the vehicle. If that's the case, the best option is to sell their vehicles and use the payment towards a better car.
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How to replace the u-joints?
While replacing the u-joints is not a straightforward process, many drivers find themselves comfortable replacing the u-joints by themselves to save on labor costs. However, and as we indicated before, do not attempt to replace the u-joints unless you are ready to avoid introducing undesirable results related to major damages in the surrounding components.
If you are comfortable replacing your vehicles on U joints, here are the basic steps you need to follow:
- Prepare or necessary toolsets including a Jack, jack stands, wheels chocks, etc.
- You also need to prepare a copy of your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If you don't have a copy, you can either download a soft copy from the Internet or get a hard copy from your professional mechanic
- Choose a flat open location for your work and secure your vehicle
- Remove the driveshaft
- Take out any snap prank clips that are connecting the previous U joint. They should be connecting the bearing caps
- Remove the old U joint by tapping it
- Take out the bearing caps, which she will find them at the cross peace
- Compare the old U joint to the new one to make sure that you're not installing the wrong part
- Install they know the u-joint and put back all parts you removed previously in reverse order
- Perform a quick test drive and see if there are any symptoms of a bad U joint.
- If you notice that symptoms of bad U joints are still there, it indicates that you haven't done the job right, and therefore, you must consult a professional mechanic to finalize the job or at least check which step you did not do it correctly.
The u-joint is one of the most durable components in your vehicle, which means drivers do not expect their failure.
It's important to note that when the u-joint goes bad, it might introduce some damage to the surrounding components and some of the major components like the transition.
This article summarizes the main symptoms of a bad u-joint, including excessive vibration and clunking or squealing noises. Once you notice any of these symptoms, you must stop driving your vehicle and consult a professional mechanic because there are situations where a terrible U joint failure can damage the transmission.
If you notice that your vehicle suffers from additional major problems, it might be the right time now to evaluate the situation and see whether it's worth fixing this car or selling it to a Cash Cars Buyer.
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