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How to Replace Driveshaft U Joints 07-14 Chevy Suburban

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Hi. I'm Mike, from 1A Auto. We've been selling auto parts for over 30 years!

All right. So, we're here underneath our 2009 Suburban. I'm Andrew, and I'm here with Andy. It's making a clicking noise when we're taking off from a start or putting load on the rear axle--it sounds like. We think it's from U-joints, which is pretty common with that type of noise and with the amount of miles this vehicle has. It's got 160,000 miles on it. The U-joints are probably worn out, so we're just gonna check 'em out.

I'm gonna start with the one up here, by the end of the transfer case, and I'm just gonna hold it. Because there is some lash in the transmission, or the transfer case, that you'll feel, but you wanna hold them and try to just move them very gently. This one seems pretty solid. Andy's gonna check out the one at the rear diff.

All right. I'm gonna grab the yoke on the rear differential and I'm gonna grab the drive shaft, and I'm just gonna go back and forth. As you can see, there's a lot of play right there. There should be zero play, so this U-joint in here is bad. That's what's causing the majority of our noise.

Since we're gonna have to remove the drive shaft and take it out to replace that rear U-joint, we're gonna also replace the front one. It's just best practice.

To prevent further vibration when we go to put this back in, it's best to index the yoke with the drive shaft, so what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna mark right here and mark right here. In theory, it shouldn't matter, but it just works best if you index it and put it back where it was. We're gonna do the same with the yoke over here. Mark right there and mark right there.

I'm just gonna spray some rust penetrant on these bolts, help us remove them. These are 11 millimeter bolts. Just gonna use the closed end of this wrench to loosen them up, break them all free first, and this one up top. Now just go around and loosen them all.

This drive shaft's pretty long. It's awkward to handle, so when this comes lose, you're gonna need a second person to help you guide it out of the transfer case and out of the vehicle. Get these loose with my fingers and we'll take these right off.

Before you pull the drive shaft out of the transfer case, we're gonna put our drain pan in place in case anything leaks out.

Now we're gonna come over here with a pry bar and we're gonna go in between the yoke and the drive shaft. We're gonna support this and then just pull real hard. Sometimes they're in there pretty difficult, and we're gonna work it back and forth.

I'm gonna help Andy guide it out from the transfer case. That's how you pull it out. Didn't have any fluid come out. Excellent.

Here we get a better look at our U-joint. You can see there's some grease that's come out of here. This is a non-serviceable U-joint. Sometimes they have a grease fitting; you can grease them a intervals, but these are not. You can see that it's bound up. It should really move a lot freer. But you hear it squeaking. It's completely bound up. It's really had to turn, so this one is definitely no good. If you take this cap off, you can see there's little tiny, tiny needle bearings in there. That's how these work. There's a little dust seal and a grease seal, but, yeah. This one's totally junk and we're gonna have to replace it.

We're checking out our front U-joint. There's a lot of looseness here. There's not a wicked lot of play in it. As you can see, there's a lot of grease coming out of there. That's a good indication that this one is gonna be going much like the back one in the near future, so it's a good idea to replace 'em both while we have the drive shaft out.

We're gonna have to remove the snap rings. There's one on each side of the drive shaft. They're pretty rusty, so I'm just gonna put some rust penetrant on here, let it sit for a little bit before I come back and try to get it out of there. Do the same for the other side. We're gonna do the same for the front of the drive shaft, except this has four snap rings instead of just two. We'll let that sit and soak.

Okay. So, we soaked this down in rust penetrant. What I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna take some locking needle-nose pliers 'cause they're a little bit thicker than regular needle-nose pliers. This helps. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna squish this clip together and just work it back and forth. As you can see, it released right here. It didn't release over here. What we can do is just work it back and forth a little. We can also lock onto the smaller one. Grab me the hammer. Let's just try to release some of the rust. Grab onto this and then just forcefully pull it out, just like that. I'm gonna do that with all the other ones.

Andy showed us one way to do it. Another way you can do it, if this snap ring is really stuck in there, like these ones are pretty rusty, you can punch this cap down a little bit with a punch and a hammer. That might help release it. Then we'll use these locking pliers again.

It's really stuck. Oh, I broke that one, so I need to work a little harder to get this one out. Tighten these up. Okay, need some more rust penetrant. Spray some more rust penetrant in here. Take a right-angle pick, try to clean some of that rust out of there. Let's see if I can grab it with some regular pliers. Just be careful not to break this one. Ah-ha, broke that one, too.

All right. Since I broke this, I'm gonna soak up some of this rust penetrant. It splashed me. We'll take another punch and put it up against the snap ring with my hammer. May make it worse. Broke off some more. All right, since Andy took out the easy one and this one broke on me, I'm gonna put this socket in that's just a little bit smaller than the inside diameter of where that snap ring is and we're gonna punch the U-joint down. Hopefully that'll loosen it up and the snap ring will come out.

By hitting it down, I've released a lot of the tension on the snap ring. I can carefully use my pick to pull it out. The pick's not really meant for prying like this. You have to be very careful with it. Let's see. I'm gonna need to use the punch to help pry it up. Well, that's come out. All right. Just work it around. Let me grab the pliers.

If you break the snap ring, all is not lost. You can still get it out of there. But we still have to punch this one out, so just try to work some of that rust out of there. Get the rust penetrant in there, help these slide apart. We've got steel, drive shaft, and steel bearing carriers, and the U-joint--they're all rusted together. Clean all that junk out of there.

With both snap rings out, I was punching on this side, so I flipped it over. Since it's so rusty, I'm gonna punch it back this way and just work it back and forth to try to work the rust penetrant in there and break it free from the rust and get this U-joint out of this drive shaft. So, we'll just go back and forth.

This U-joint is really rusted in there, so we're gonna try another method. I'm gonna stick it in the vice so that the U-joint is sitting on the vice like that. The lower part's down there. I'm gonna take a socket, one that's big enough so that the cap will fit through fit it there. Stick it right there, and then when we hit it with a hammer, that's gonna push one cap out at a time.

As you can see, it's starting to raise up, so that's good. Just keep going. It should be almost out. A couple more. All right, now we're gonna take some locking pliers, grab this cap. Make sure it's on there real tight. Go back a and forth with it. It's still on there good.

Before I take that cap off, I'm gonna flip it over. We're gonna get this other cap off and then we can punch 'em out through the center. Woops. We've got a little ways to go.

We can almost get the joint part of it out. As you can see, these are all the little needle bearings. Oh, and there we go. Pulled that part out. We can move that forward.

Now that Andy got that U-joint out, I'm gonna punch the caps out. I'm gonna use a punch and the hammer. Flip it over and do the other side, go right through. That one is stuck good.

Spray some rust penetrant in here. Spray some rust penetrant on the outside of it. There's a rubber seal on this cap, and it looks like it's stuck in the bore. Now we're gonna try to punch it out from this direction. Well, we don't wanna damage the drive shaft, so now I'll use the socket. Yup.

All right. So, Andrew got those caps out, so that's good. But when getting those caps out, as you can see, the joint, itself, when pushing, this piece of the joint actually pushed on the gears over here and they're marred up a little bit.

What we're gonna have to do is we're gonna have to take a file, preferably a little round file like this. If you come over here, right there, I wanna file that little piece down. Take this. Let me get on this side. So, we're gonna file this down so that it's flat. Almost. Maybe a little bit more. We'll do that to the other three little burrs.

All right. I took those little nubs off on this side and right here. This side didn't really have too much damage, so just file that down just a little bit. That came out pretty good, so that's all set.

Gonna use a little bit of Emery cloth. You can use some light sandpaper. We're just gonna get some of the rust off. You can use a Brillo pad or something just to get a little bit of the rust off in here. We're not gonna go nuts 'cause we don't wanna ruin the machine surface of the drive shaft. Do the same on the other side. You can use a wire brush to get some of this out, and actually, the wire brush will help get some of the channel dirt out. You can take a small pick. We wanna clean this out so that the retainer clips will sit in there well.

Okay. So, we have our new U-joint here. With this grease fitting, there's two ways you can install this. If we install it this way, it is gonna be hard to get a grease gun in there, so for this vehicle, we're gonna install it this way. That'll be a little bit easier to get a grease gun in there and get it on there. All right. So, then take our U-joint. We can pull the cap off and inside you can see these needle bearings. If they end up that they're not positioned right, you can take a screwdriver or a pick, preferably one that is not magnetized, and then take and fold these in the right location.

If they fall out a certain way, you can just push 'em down. They should spread out. There's some grease in there, so that's good. We can put that back on just like that.

All right. To install the U-joint, take the drive shaft. You're gonna take this cap off and you're gonna stick this over here. Then we'll take this cap off and we're gonna slide the U-joint in place and then push it over here, and then we'll slide this cap in over here. So, want the U-joint right in between both of 'em pretty equally. Okay, just like that.

Okay, that looks pretty good, so I'm gonna show you a couple different methods of how to get these in. If you have a vice that's big enough, we can open up the vice, set that in just like that.

Make sure the drive shaft's pretty even with the vice and we can just tighten up the vice. You're gonna wanna make sure that the joint, itself, can move freely in here. Just tighten it up a little bit.

Oh, it's not in there right. Take a little hammer, give it a tap right there. All right, I've gotta loosen this up. You wanna make sure this is in here evenly. Make sure this can keep turning.

We can just tighten down the vice and that's gonna push the caps in. Just keep checking to make sure it's turning while you're pushing it down, while you're tightening it. Now it looks pretty good. That's as far as I can go with the vice.

Next, what I'm gonna do is line this up on the vice. I want this to be flat, so I'm gonna raise up the back over here. I want this to be on a level surface, so I'm gonna level out the drive shaft. I'll just put a couple pieces of wood under here, that way the drive shaft is level. Now I'm gonna take a socket that's pretty big that will fit to the outside of the cap. I'll take a hammer and tap it down. Slightly smaller.

All right. So, once the cap is past the groove, then we can install the retaining clip. Take our needle-nose locking pliers, stick that in there, get that in. That's good like that. We can flip it over and we're gonna hammer in this side.

Now we can see the retainer groove right there. Install the clip just like that. Sometimes you're gonna get the clip in the groove. Make sure it goes in all the way around. That looks good.

Now, this is a little bit tight in here. To loosen it up, you can take a hammer and you can just tap on the ears right here. That's gonna set it in a little bit better and it's nice and loose.

All right. Before we flip this over to do the other side, we don't want these caps to fall off while we're working on it, so what we're gonna do is take some electrical tape. I'm just gonna tape around these U-joints just like this. That'll keep the caps on. Just go around a couple times just like that, and that'll keep on. Then, once we install it, we'll take the tape off.

Flip it around. All right, there's a couple different ways you could do this. You could take off the U-joint on this side first and then take the yoke U-joint off. I'm gonna take the yoke off first.

We'll remove these retainer clips. Also, once you use the locking pliers, use a screwdriver to get in here. Make sure you wear safety glasses when you're doing this, 'cause these clips can go flying. Take that off just like that, work it all the way around. See? It just went flying. That's good. Spray a little rust penetrant in there. We're gonna flip it over and do the same to the other side.

All right. So, the first method we're gonna use, here, we'll use a socket that is bigger than the U-joint. Slide it over there and I'm gonna hold the yoke with this hand and hammer with the other. It's gonna be a little tricky 'cause I'm gonna have to keep adjusting.

All right. We're gonna try another method. We're gonna try this ball joint press again. Line this up. You wanna make sure that this is lined up on the bottom. Otherwise, you're gonna be fighting yourself. Wanna make sure that the U-joint cap will come out that hole. Tighten it down.

We put it in the vice like this. That way, it'll hold it a little bit better. I'm gonna just tighten it down. We're tightening this up, and that's gonna push the U-joint cap through. It helps to use a pneumatic gun, but we're showing you how to do it by hand. Let's see.

All right. So, it looks like it's bottoming out on this ear of the drive shaft, so I'm gonna push that back in. We're gonna take the drive shaft side of the U-joint out. We'll take this clip out with our locking needle-nose pliers.

Oh, that one just broke off. Take my screwdriver and hammer and just tap it right here. Oh, that broke as well. Go in here. All right, we'll try doing the other side. That one came out a little easier. Gonna use my screwdriver to help it along. Tighten these up a little bit. Just gonna work it out. That one came out good.

I didn't get the clip out of the back side of this, but we're gonna try to push it through a little bit and then maybe I'd be able to get a pick in behind. We'll tighten this up.

All right. So, now that there's a gap right there, it'll be a little easier. I can take the screwdriver, get in behind the clip and try to get this clip out. All right, and there's the clip. Now we got that clip out, now I can push it all the way through. See?

Need the rust penetrant on there? Sure. All right, we're gonna try to hammer the other side through. Gonna use the socket and the big hammer.

I've gotta put a punch in here, try to get this cap out. Andy already did most of the hard work. It's caught on this one. I think those rubber seals on 'em don't help 'em go through, either.

See if we can move this one out a little more. When you get it right, the cap comes right off. Those were all the old needle bearings. Need to get that cap out. They're all old needle bearings. All right. That's one half of that. Be careful with this part, this goes in your transmission, to not mar this up. That came out a lot further. There it is. Just go up and out. Oh, that one's gonna come back out.

Actually, you should be able to get the joints out. There's a couple little burrs on here, so we'll just take the file and clean those burrs up. Put this in the vice so it's a little bit easier for me to work. Just clean these up a little bit. We have our new U-joint here. I'm gonna carefully remove the caps. Make sure all the needle bearings stay where they're supposed to be. I'll put those aside right here. Do both sides, and then we'll slide them in here and I'll put the grease fitting towards the transfer case side or the transmission side. We'll get the cap started into here. Did they slide in real easy for you

No? All right. Push that one in there. This one's started in here. Okay, center it a little bit and then I'll take the hammer, tap 'em down. We'll get this one started over here. Get it to bottom out, and get this one to bottom out. Okay. Andy's gonna help me out. He's gonna hammer this one in so we can get to the snap ring location.

Just put a socket right there and hammer it down. You're just gonna make sure it gets to where the ring groove is. I think that's it. That's about it, yeah. Just use my locking needle nose. Line that up, make sure it's in the groove, snaps in place. Flip it over. Do the same for the other side. Should be lined up. Put this ring in. That looks good.

So, this is tight. If we take the hammer, just tap on the ears and that loosens it up. We're gonna line up our match marks we made. Take the caps off here. Just go this way. Get this one started. Gonna lay this right here I think. Yeah, it's moving a little bit. Try to get it started evenly and then just tap it, and then flip it over and do the same. I was actually able to do that with the rounded end of the ball-peen hammer. I can see the channel for the lock for the snap ring. Use our locking needle-nose pliers. That's it.

Yeah. Go down here on the flat part. Tap this one in and then we'll tap the ears a little bit. Before we reinstall the drive shaft, we're gonna clean some of this rust and corrosion out of the pinion yoke. Just gonna use a wire brush to just knock it out of here so our drive shaft sits nice and even.Andrew: We're gonna put the drive shaft into the transfer case, or your transmission, if your truck is two-wheel drive, it just lines up. Careful the seal. It's on the outside, just gotta find the splines. It'll slide in.

And then we're gonna do the back side. We'll take the tape off that we used to hold the caps on. Then, remember we lined up this mark with the yoke on the differential? You should be able to slide it back down. Get that lined up. Gonna move over just a little bit. You wanna look at those ears. Make sure the caps are below those ears. Those are what hold it into place before you put the caps on. One way to tell which side goes where: This side of the cap is rusted more than the other side, so you know that goes on the outside. We'll stick that cap on like that. Same with the other one. As you can see, that's rusted all along here. It's not rusted quite as much on the other side. That rusted ridge will go on the outside. I'm gonna snug these up with an 11 millimeter wrench and torque these to 18 foot-pounds. Once it clicks, you're all set. Move to the next one. Grease up these U-joints. We're just gonna grease up these U-joints, but otherwise, the squeaks should be gone. You could already see that the only play is the gear latch, which is perfectly normal. It's got more play in the U-joints, so that should solve our noise.

Thanks for watching. Visit us at 1aauto.com for quality auto parts, fast and free shipping and the best customer service in the industry.

Tools needed for replacement:

    General Tools

  • Hammer
  • File
  • Vise
  • Center Punch
  • Wire Brush

  • Materials, Fluids, and Supplies

  • Rust Penetrant

  • Pliers, Cutters & misc Wrenches

  • Vise Grip Pliers

  • Ratchets & Related

  • Socket Extensions
  • Torque Wrench
  • Ratchet

  • Screwdrivers & Related

  • Pry Bar

  • Sockets - Metric

  • 11mm Socket

  • Wrenches - Metric

  • 11mm Wrench


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