well I searched but could not find a thread on this getting read to do it, and I would have liked one so I am writing one up. never having done it before the first time I bought a tool I didn't need and wasted a fair bit of time so for those like me who skipped out shop class and for whom each new wrenching area is a remedial learning experience, here's my usual overkill primer on replacing the u-joints.
1. I had bad u-joints for a while before i realized it. the vibration whining noise and clunking kind of grew on me I guess. It wasn't until I got a nasty butt vibration that I went looking and even then I could only feel the play in the u-joints when I lifted the rear wheels off the ground. With new u-joints the car is night and day in smoothness. really quite shocking.
2. pulling the drive shaft can suck. I recommend an extra long 14mm wrench and a mallet to break the nuts free at the t-case end. I found an 18" breaker bar would not get the job done. Toyota expects you to make match marks on each flange plate to match the alignment exactly. Also the nuts at the diff end of the drive shafts are serrated lock nuts and you are supposed to loosen and tighten from the bolt side (also the washer goes on the bolt side, not the nut side).
3. ok so once you get the thing off, you have to take the u-joint apart. First a geography lesson. A u-joint has 4 parts, the yoke (the u-shaped thing on the end of the drive shaft), the flange (the other u shaped thing that attaches to the differential), the spider (the centre cross) and the races (4 round things that are inset into the flange and yoke and hold the spider in place and contain the needle bearings that allow the u-joint spider to rotate). you are supposed to use match marks to ensure that the flange/yoke alignment and zirc location match when you replace everything. Take special note of this as you don't want to have to try and change things once you have pounded the new races in. Be particularly conscious of the zirc location as if you put it in the wrong spot you won't be able to reach it without pulling the drive shaft which will either cause you hassles every oil change or shorten the life of your u-joint a lot.
4. remove the 4 c-clips that hold the races in place. These are at the end of each arm of the spider flush against the inner surface of the flange and yoke. they are not half way between the cross and the yoke as I assumed (Don't pull the rubber seal off the middle or you will get a handful of needle bearings everywhere).
5. the c-clips are tightly wedged in a groove. to remove them easily you need to release tension on the groove. to do this you need to hammer the race into the yoke/flange a little bit. To do this you need something like a brass drift or a bushing. I used a 22mm socket which fit just inside the race, and a brass mallet. When you pound on the race to release the tension it doesn't really matter whether the bottom of the flange (the opposite race) is wedged against something or open. Either way pounding on the race a few times should release enough tension to pop the c clip.
6. to pop the c-clip use two flat head screwdrivers and wedge them against each end of the c-clip and push. no need for a a hammer - they should pop out a little and then you can hook them out with one of the screwdrivers. It should be possible to rotate the c-clip so you can line up the screwdrivers. if the c-clip won't move, you haven't released enough tension. go back to 5. i found cursing helped a little.
7. once you have removed all the c-clips you need to remove the races. This is the part that confused me. I had read about using a big c-clamp for this and went out and bought a 6 " c-clamp. This was a waste of money imho. what you need to do is set the yoke or flange into a vice so that the opposite race can freely come out of the otherside of the flange as you are hitting this race. Then hammer the race with a brass drift or a 22mm socket or something using a big brass mallet. both races should pop out with one falling out the bottom and one going into the middle of the yoke where it will be wedged against the spider. You then have to remove the spider from the flange or yoke. You may have to remove the zirc or hammer the old race to be able to remove the spider.
8. make sure you are happy with the zirc and flange/yoke alignment and then reassemble the new spider and start knocking in races beginning with the yoke (make sure spider is inside yoke befoprre you knock a race in). Again, I have heard of using the c-clamp to push the new races in. I found the c-clamp actually started to damage the first race I tried. Instead I gently hammered the race in with a brass mallet which worked really well. I took care to make sure that the spider was completely clear of the race as I hammered the first side in, then on the opposite side I made sure the spider was seated loosely in the race I was hammering and then in the other raced once driven in a little.
9. attach the new zirc fitting to the spider after installing the first two races. If you wait until all 4 races are in it is difficult to install.
10, next install the new c-clips making sure the races are sufficiently seated to allow the clips to seat completely into their slots. this took a couple of tries for me.
11. The Toyota u-joints I used came with grease in the races. I did not add any grease when I fitted the parts but after the whole thing was together I greased both u-joints until a tiny bit of grease started to come out the seals. I have no idea if this is the right thing, but it imade sense to me.
12. reinstall the drive shaft keeping in mind the specified torque is 65 ft lbs for the rear shaft and 54 for the front, which is plenty of torque for such small bolts so don't rely on a short wrench or socket to get'er done. remember rear drive shaft is in phase (yokes at either end of drive shaft line up) and front is out of phase for 93-97 (yokes at 90 degrees to each other) and in phase for a 91-92.
wow only 12 steps. I am getting more concise in my old age. this a 2