Your drivetrain is connected by driveshafts, with a universal joint (commonly called a “u-joint”) on each end of the shaft. These u-joints allow the shaft to move relative to the vehicle itself, all the while spinning and delivering torque to the differential.
As the vehicle moves up and down over bumps, and as the suspension moves to accommodate those road imperfections, the u-joint by way of a connection built with clamps, lubrication cups and bearings allows the driveshaft to “float” between components, while still spinning and moving its torque energy to the rear end, and on to the drive wheels.
A top-quality u-joint will have high-quality bearings, good lubrication seals and have cups machined in the most durable steel. Many have a chromium finish to add durability. And for good service life, the best will have a zerk fitting for service lubrication as part of regular maintenance.
Signs of a failing u-joint include a clunking noise when moving, from under the vehicle. In the driver’s seat, you might feel a jerking motion as you start to accelerate, or when you settle to a stop. Over time, if not addressed, the jerking and clunking will get more pronounced. At this point, the u-joints need to be replaced, as complete failure, which will damage and immobilize the vehicle, will occur. This can be a catastrophic failure, as the driveshaft spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute can come loose. Once loose, it can act like a saw or drill and not only enter the cabin, but it can also result in an overturned vehicle.
It’s easy to have a technician check your u-joints whenever the vehicle is on a lift. It’s a common part of a safety inspection, and also a routine part of regular maintenance.
At Anderson Alignment Services, your complete automotive care center in Hutchinson, KS we install only quality replacement parts. Give us a call and let us help keep you safely and economically on the road. We serve Hutchinson and the surrounding areas.