A universal joint is a joint that is in charge of connecting rigid rods where the axles are inclined to each other, and is mainly used in shafts that transmit rotary motion. This mechanical device allows multiple rotating shafts to be linked together and allows the transmission of torque and rotary motion. However, over prolonged use, the u joint can break down over time, and you may find yourself looking at the total price of a u joint replacement cost. The average cost for a u joint replacement cost is generally between $222 and $275 for most cars. Labor costs are estimated to be between around $100 and $126, while the parts are more expensive, ranging between $123 and $149.
Symptoms of a Failing U Joint
As we know, the u joint, or the universal joint, are components of the driveshaft assembly that has been connected to almost all rear-wheel drive trucks, four-wheel drive cars, and SUVs, along with the off-road vehicles, like Jeep cars. U-joints, which are found in pairs on the driveshaft of the car, compensate for the misalignment of the height of both the transmission and the rear axle.
The transmission is in charge of making sure that the right amount of power goes to your wheels and the internal system of your car. It works by shifting the gears in a very similar fashion to what you might see on a bicycle, meaning that if you do not keep your chain from deteriotagin, that you might lose some fuel economy. If your transmission is not working correctly, this can increase the U joint replacement cost.
Furthermore, the transmission of power between the rear axle and the transmission allows each end of the driveshaft to move with each rotation of the driveshaft to handle the misalignment between the transmission and the rear axle. The driveshaft is responsible for transferring torque nadn engine rotation into vehicle motion when you shift your vehicle into the drive position.
Now that we know how the u joint works and the factors that can affect the u joint replacement cost, we can look at some symptoms of a bad or failing universal joint.
Squeaking noise when moving
You might notice a squeaking noise when your car moves, either moving forward or in reverse. The bearing parts of each u joint and each universal joint are greased at the factory, but might not have the proper grease fitting to allow for enhanced lubrication that after the vehicle is in use, limiting the service life of the bearing joints. Since the bearing portion of the u joint twists with each rotation of the driveshaft, this can cause the grease to diminish over time and lessen the lubrication.
If the grease diminishes throughout use and evaporates or is thrown out of the bearing cup, the bearing then comes dry, and enhances friction due to the metal to metal contact. This means that the u joint bearings can squeak as the drive shaft rotates while driving, meaning the overall u joint replacement cost is higher.
The squeak will usually be quiet when the vehicle accelerates and enhances faster than 5-10 miles per hour due to the other vehicle noise, so it will be a smaller squeaking sound than what you might hear from the other mechanisms in your vehicle. The squeak is just a warning sign and symptom that the u joint should be serviced by a professional mechanic.
You hear a “clunk” when shifting
If you hear a clunk, followed by a strong ringing sound when shifting from the drive to reverse in your car, then this noise usually is a sign that the u joint bearings have enough clearance to permit the driveshaft to slowly rotate, and then come to a hard stop, when the power is then reversed. This can enhance the overall u joint replacement cost.
This can be the next step of the deterioration, which usually comes after having not enough grease to lubricate the u joint bearings and cause a quicker u joint replacement. Servicing the u-joint bearings or greasing the u joints will not take back the damage to the u joint, but it can help to extend the life of the u joint.
Vibration while moving quickly
The vibration that is felt in your car can lead to a more expensive u joint replacement cost, and can mean that the bearings between the u joint have now worn down and allowed the driveshaft the freedom to move outside of the normal rotational path. This movement that is extraneous to where it should normally be rotating can cause imbalance and excess vibration.
The higher frequency vibration in your vehicle that can cause an imbalance and an improper balancing and rotation of the wheels can mean that the drive shaft is turning quicker than the wheels, sometimes 3-4 times faster. The worn out u joint is now causing damage and breakdown to their important parts of the internal workings of the car, including the transmision. A breakdown of the transmission can increase the overall u joint replacement cost.
To see if you need a transmission repair that can be due to the u joint break down, there are some signs and symptoms that your transmission is not working correctly. First, you might have a problem with shifting gears. This can be characterized by hesitation when putting the car into the gear, falling out of gear, shifting gears for no reason, and jerking while shifting gears.
In addition, there is a grinding and jerking when trying to change gears, producing a grinding sound in manual transmission and a shaking in automatic transmission cars. Furthermore, you might eat unusual noises and whines in your vehicle, that can be indicated weh anteh vehicle begins producting buzizng or clunking, especially while the vehicle is in neutral.
Extra key signs of a transmission replacement that might influence the u joint replacement cost is a burnt and cloudy transmission fluid that appears dark and opaque instead of the fluid having a bright red color, this can be accompanied by having a burning odor that is due to the excessive friction and the heat build up. Lately, leaking transmission fluid is a key sign that the transmission might need repairs or replacements.
Transmission Fluid Leaking
As we mentioned, a sign of the transmission breaking down and needing a replacement or a repair can be seen by the transmission fluid leaking from the rear part of the transmissions. A poor transmission that is failing or damaged can lead to a higher u joint replacement cost. This is often the result of a badly worn universal joint that has become damaged over time.
The vibration noted has now worn the transmission tailshaft and damaged the output shaft seal, which is then no longer being able to hold the transmission fluid. If the fluid is suspected of leaking, then the transmission should be inspected to determine the source of the leak.
There are main causes of transmission fluid leaks and an average repair cost. Besides the u joint replacement cost being a main cause of the transmission fluid leaking, there are other reasons. One of the other causes is the transmission pan or drain plug being damaged. Over time, your transmission pan will wear and tear and breakdown, and the pan is susceptible to damage due to the loose rocks and debris on the road.
In addition, seals are broken. An automatic transmission can keep hydraulic pressure through seals, but over time, these scars will break down and crack, causing leaks in the transmission. Furthermore, a transmission pan gasket can fail due to wear over time or due to poor manufacturing.
The last two reasons of the transmission fluid leaking that can cause a higher u joint replacement cost is torque converter leakage, which means that the torque pump has a crack and can leak transmission fluid, and the fluid line is cracked.
The overall repair cost of a transmission fluid leak, which can reduce the overall price of a joint replacement cost, is between $150 and $200. For this mount, you will usually be able to benefit from the services of the replacement of pan bolts, drain plugs, seals, gaskets, and flud lines. Replacing these parts can enhance the lifespan of the universal joints and lower the u joint replacement cost.
This is the clear sign and symptom of the ultimate failure mode for a universal joint and the main reason for a joint replacement cost that is especially high. If the driveshaft dislocates and the u joint literally breaks, this means the driveshaft will drop down to the pavement and no longer be able to transfer power. A repair at this point will include much more than just replacing or repairing the universal joint, and can require a full driveshaft replacement.
A drive shaft replacement cost can significantly influence the total u joint replacement cost. Sample prices for the driveshaft replacement can vary depending on the make, model, and year of your car. The least expensive option is for the 2008 Saab 9-7x, with a total estimate being around $389, with the parts cost being around $310. The second least expensive option on this sample list of drive shaft replacements is the 2011 Mazda CX-7, which costs a total of $772 and has the parts costing around $660.
The middle of the road options for the driveshaft replacement costs include the 2009 Lexus Is250, the 2010 Audi A3, and the 2016 Volvo XC60. The Audi A3 costs around $955 and the parts cost around $720. The Lexus IS250 has a total drive shaft replacement cost of around $1044 and has a parts cost of around $875. The most expensive middle of the road option for a drive shaft replacement cost is around $1353 for the Volvo XC60.
The most expensive car for the drive shaft replacement cost is the 2008 Porsche Cayenne, coming out to a whopping $2187 with the parts costing nearly $2000. The driveshaft replacement can significantly influence the overall u joint replacement cost and make it much higher if the drive shaft is damaged along with the u joints in the system.
Can I drive with a universal joint problem?
Although you may not want to pay for a joint replacement cost to keep your car working in tip top shape, the reality is that you should not drive with a failing u joint. Every time the u joint squeaks, makes noise, or does not work properly, these are huge signs that the u joints are failing and are damaged. If you hear a chirping and vibration that is coming from the u joint and changes in the intensity and every time your car passes over bumps on an uneven road, then this is a sign the u joint is failing and you need to determine the overall u joint replacement cost.
As the problem goes on and gets worse, the drive shaft might make loud clunks while you're driving, especially when the vehicle is put into reverse or in the drive position. Vibrations and wobbling will eventually lead to seals that are broken and leak over time, along with seals breaking on the transmission tail shaft. When the u joint has reached complete failure and requires a total u joint replacement cost, then the u joint might bind and break, allowing the drive shaft to fall off the vehicle while driving.
U Joint Replacement Cost
The average cost for a u joint replacement cost is generally between $222 and $275 for most cars. Labor costs are estimated to be between around $100 and $126, while the parts are more expensive, ranging between $123 and $149. There are u joint replacement cost estimates which can be seen for popular modern cars on the market today. We have given you some simple prices so that you can determine how much you might pay for a u joint replacement.
The least expensive choice is the Ford Escape, which runs between $189 adn $219, while the second cheapest option is the Ford F-250 Super Duty, costing between $237 and $265. The middle of the road options are the Ford Ex[lorer and the Toyota Tacoma, ranging between $279 and $325.
The more expensive choices for the popular cars on the market today for u joint replacement costs are the Ford Ranger and the Ford F-150. The Ford Ranger has an average u joint replacement cost of between $309 and $341, while the Ford F-150 ranges between $317 and $342 for the total u joint replacement.