Ever wonder how cars and other machines work? It might seem like they are very complicated, but if there is one thing that I always notice, especially when it comes to cars and machinery is that it is all connected. Parts are connected easily with the help of a universal joint or u joint. As an auto-technician, I always encounter a lot of stuff about u joints that other people seem to think is very complicated. But what is u joint and how to determine bad u joints symptoms?
In this article, I am going to explain to you what is the purpose of u joint, what are the signs of a bad u joint, and the process of replacing them.
What and Where Are U Joints?
Simply put, a universal joint or u joint is a device that connected all the shafts. This allows the transmission of power in any mechanical device by connecting one point to another. Universal joints vary in shape and size and have different configurations that will feed the needs of anyone and anything.
As a professional, I always look up to using u joints for many different purposes. U joints can be found in the rear axles of many modern cars today, such as SUVs and RWD. I've discovered that there are joints that are made of rubber material; however, steel is commonly used today, and they contain lubricated bearings.
You might think, what the purpose of universal joints is? U joints are made so that the drive shafts can move and up and down. This allows power to be transmitted through the shaft inside a car. It is one of the most important and integral parts of the car.
Bad U-joint Symptoms
As important as it may sound, I need to emphasize that having a good functioning u joint is key to the overall healthy state of your car. Your car relies heavily on power, and with the help of a good u joint, it can move along quite well. I always give out the importance of having a well-maintained car, and taking care of your u joint is just one of the many things that you should be looking out for.
The importance of maintaining a good u joint cannot be stressed enough. This is why I also suggest that you know how to tell if a universal joint is bad or the signs of a bad u joint. These signs will help you determine whether it is time to replace them or if you need to have them checked by a professional. This also involves the safety and overall integrity of your car.
What Sound Does A Bad U Joint Make?
At first, you may think that the car just needs some tune-up if you begin to hear some squeaking sound. No, there's no animal caught between the wires and gears. If you start to hear some squeaking sound, it should be a sign that you have a bad u joint.
The bearing components of the universal joints are laden with grease. With continued use, the grease will either evaporate as all other forms of liquid do, or it would be thrown out through friction or force.
The constant friction causes dryness within the joint, and metal begins to run one another, causing the squeaking sound.
So, if you begin to hear this sound, it is time that you schedule a checkup with me.
Feel a Vibration as You Drive
One way of telling that you have a bad u joint is when you feel a vibration as you drive. This is because of normal wear and tear, and the worn-out joint bearings make it, so the driveshaft slowly moves away from its normal rotating path. This can cause the entire car to vibrate. Once this happens, I highly suggest that you try to have your car checked properly or even have your u joints replaced along with some grease fitting.
Leaking Transmission Fluid
Another way of telling that you have a bad u joint is when you have a leaking transmission fluid. Due to the aforementioned vibrations, this causes damage to the transmission output shaft seal, which causes the leak. I suggest having your car checked immediately if this happens.
Read Next: signs of too much transmission fluid
The Driveshaft Issue
I would personally say that the most obvious sign that you have a bad or broken u joint is when your driveshaft is hanging underneath your vehicle and is detached from the rear axle. This is what happens when the universal joint breaks off either from physical damage or trauma to the car or simply because the car has not been maintained properly. Car owners should always take responsibility for their cars and have it checked from time to time. Repair and replacement are required at this point by a professional.
Having a Bad U Joint, What You Can Do?
Having a bad u joint is not the end of the world. Here is the most important thing that I can suggest you do to make sure that you can maintain the quality and integrity of your u joint.
The first thing to do is to avoid overloading your car.
Overloading makes the tail end sag or puts pressure into the rear part of the car. I would suggest that you distribute the weight of your car evenly to increase the lifespan of your joints.
Replacements: How Long Does It Take To Replace U Joint and How Much Does It Cost?
As I've mentioned a million times, always make sure to have a regular schedule check-up with your local mechanic or auto technician for proper maintenance.
If it comes to the point that you will need it replaced, it will only take around 2 hours or so to replace a broken u joint. Be sure to be ready to shell out at least $200 to $450 for the replacement depending on the type of car that you have and the service that you want.
In any case, having regular maintenance checks is worth it than having to pay a few hundred bucks and wait a few more hours for the repair. This is the reason why I always emphasize the need for car owners to know how to determine bad u joints symptoms.
By then, you would know how to take care of your car, prevent it from happening, and if it does, you would know what to do about it. Always take good care of your car, and it will love you back.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.