Premature U-joint wear

Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
123
Location
Belgium
I cannot seem to get any more life out of all my 4 u-joints for any longer then 6 months/ 5000 miles.
I have tried all kinds of brands, even original U joints. All the same, after 5000 miles they have play on them again, starting to make noise. I use good grease, grease them every now and then. They do have a bit of play on the slipjoint.

My 80 is lifted 3 - 4 inch, I have no caster correction, but I have friends with even taller lifts without caster correction and no one seems to have this problem.
No mentionable vibrations noticable.
What to look for?
Throw the driveshafts in the bin and buy new ones? Try caster correction front, and rear 11mm extend lower arms?
I cannot think of any other solutions? What do you guys think? I really have enough of replacing the ujoints.
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2020
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187
Location
Raleigh, NC
Double cardan drive shaft to reduce angle and wear? I had success with Tom Wood's DC shaft on my 94 LC...but that was used to kill driveline vibration when lifting off throttle
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
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13,025
Location
Olathe, KS, USA
I cannot seem to get any more life out of all my 4 u-joints for any longer then 6 months/ 5000 miles.
I have tried all kinds of brands, even original U joints. All the same, after 5000 miles they have play on them again, starting to make noise. I use good grease, grease them every now and then. They do have a bit of play on the slipjoint.

My 80 is lifted 3 - 4 inch, I have no caster correction, but I have friends with even taller lifts without caster correction and no one seems to have this problem.
No mentionable vibrations noticable.
What to look for?
Throw the driveshafts in the bin and buy new ones? Try caster correction front, and rear 11mm extend lower arms?
I cannot think of any other solutions? What do you guys think? I really have enough of replacing the ujoints.
How are you installing the U-Joints?

Vise?
Hammer?
How do you adjust them for tightness?
How well are they centered?
What failure are you seeing? (Caps breaking, needle bearings getting crushed/falling out, getting hot (bluing), cross turning blue, melting the cross)
What is your use of the truck? Dirt roads only? Some paved, some dirt? Heavy off road?
You're in Belgium, so I don't know the conditions.
Are they being installed so all the zerks are on the same side?
Is the DS in phase? Out of Phase? (Proper way is rear is in phase, front is out of phase 90°)
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
123
Location
Belgium
How are you installing the U-Joints?

Vise?
Hammer?
How do you adjust them for tightness?
How well are they centered?
What failure are you seeing? (Caps breaking, needle bearings getting crushed/falling out, getting hot (bluing), cross turning blue, melting the cross)
What is your use of the truck? Dirt roads only? Some paved, some dirt? Heavy off road?
You're in Belgium, so I don't know the conditions.
Are they being installed so all the zerks are on the same side?
Is the DS in phase? Out of Phase? (Proper way is rear is in phase, front is out of phase 90°)
I’ve tried hammer aswell as a vice. Same results.
As far as adjusting goes I don’t think there is much to adjust?
I put them in, fit the snap rings and then I gently tap around on the yokes so the caps loosen up a bit and the U-joint has a smooth operation.
I think they are well centered, hard to tell if they are not? The caps cannot go further outside the yokes then the snap rings?
The failures I’m seeing is typical wear.
Just play occuring. Sometimes they are a bit rust coloured wich would indicate lack of greasing, but I grease them alot.
However not always does grease come out of all the caps.
My 80 sees 90% commuting and the occasional offroad trips a couple of times a year varying from a few days to a long week offroading. Like I said, some of my friends rigs who do exactly the same driving, are set up the same way and do not have this issue whatsoever.
I put the zerks oposed to each other.
Front shaft is out of phase, rear is in phase. I tried turning the slipjoint 180 degrees for maybe it has been put together wrong once in their lifes but still the same issue.
 
Joined
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I’ve tried hammer aswell as a vice. Same results.
As far as adjusting goes I don’t think there is much to adjust?
I put them in, fit the snap rings and then I gently tap around on the yokes so the caps loosen up a bit and the U-joint has a smooth operation.
I think they are well centered, hard to tell if they are not? The caps cannot go further outside the yokes then the snap rings?
The failures I’m seeing is typical wear.
Just play occuring. Sometimes they are a bit rust coloured wich would indicate lack of greasing, but I grease them alot.
However not always does grease come out of all the caps.
My 80 sees 90% commuting and the occasional offroad trips a couple of times a year varying from a few days to a long week offroading. Like I said, some of my friends rigs who do exactly the same driving, are set up the same way and do not have this issue whatsoever.
I put the zerks oposed to each other.
Front shaft is out of phase, rear is in phase. I tried turning the slipjoint 180 degrees for maybe it has been put together wrong once in their lifes but still the same issue.
I ask about the zerks being in line because the DS is balanced from the factory with the zerks in line with each other.

The snap rings are different thicknesses and the cap tightness can be adjusted by using a thicker snap ring on both sides to keep it tight. Perhaps the groove on your yoke has worn due to so many changes and you need the caps to be tighter.
On the new rear DS I bought, I can barely turn the U-joints by hand. They are tight. Perhaps you are loosening them too much to begin with. (I used to do this on the farm)

When you are greasing the U-Joints and slip joints, are you doing this with the driveline UNLOADED? This means that you take the pressure off the U-Joints and slip yokes by placing the truck in NEUTRAL, tires chocked, parking brake set. Doing this allows the grease to move into the joints where it is needed and on those surfaces rather than just taking the easiest path out. This would explain only one or two caps allowing grease to come out.
 

jellis

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Apr 29, 2011
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Boulder, Utah
When you are greasing the U-Joints and slip joints, are you doing this with the driveline UNLOADED?
Clever! Never thought of that causing problems but it makes sense. I guess theoretically if the boots were tight enough this wouldn't matter.

Watching this video will give you some things to think about, very cool demo with a driveshaft showing the effect of angles and phasing:


It's worth checking your operating angles for sure. I assume that nothing is obviously loose on the ends of the shafts (attachments to pinions and transfer don't wiggle at all)? Is there any fluid seepage from these locations?
 
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Messages
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Belgium
Yeah I always grease them in neutral , for this exact reason.
Never heard there were different thicknesses in the snap rings… this might be an issue.
I just looked it up on the Toyota parts catalog and indeed there are 4 of them! I always used the ones supplied with the joint.
It might be interesting to order them try and get the joint to be tighter?
 
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Belgium
Clever! Never thought of that causing problems but it makes sense. I guess theoretically if the boots were tight enough this wouldn't matter.

Watching this video will give you some things to think about, very cool demo with a driveshaft showing the effect of angles and phasing:


It's worth checking your operating angles for sure. I assume that nothing is obviously loose on the ends of the shafts (attachments to pinions and transfer don't wiggle at all)? Is there any fluid seepage from these locations?

All is tight under there except for the joints haha
 
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Do you grease the new joints before the vehicle was driven?
 
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Joined
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South west utah
I could be wrong but i think thay typically caster correction will increase u joints angles so correcting the caster would only make the u joints wear faster.

I would be getting the shafts balanced or replaced with new.
 
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Yes I always grease them prior to fitting the shaft back.
Balancing was in my mind aswell…
I’ve looked up the different snap rings but they seem to be hard to find, and theres like 7 different ones.
New driveshafts are an option but they are very expensive!
 

jellis

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Very weird that's it's all 4 joints and not one shaft or the other. That seems super improbable if it's geometry or even balancing causing the issue. Of course, not sure else what that could be unless you're joints suck (OEM equivalent?) or both shafts happen to be worn out?

What do you mean by "loose"? Like 0.25mm (0.010") or 2.5mm? Can you post a video? Does it tighten up with grease or not? Tom woods told me a few weeks ago that 0.25mm was nothing to worry about.

Cheapest thing would be start with balancing, snap ring adjustment, and new OEM joint install all done by a reputable shop. Checking operating angles is free. Checking that your axle is centered side to side on the frame is free (affects angles). Everything after that gets expensive quickly.
 
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Jan 26, 2014
Messages
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Location
Belgium
Very weird that's it's all 4 joints and not one shaft or the other. That seems super improbable if it's geometry or even balancing causing the issue. Of course, not sure else what that could be unless you're joints suck (OEM equivalent?) or both shafts happen to be worn out?

What do you mean by "loose"? Like 0.25mm (0.010") or 2.5mm? Can you post a video? Does it tighten up with grease or not? Tom woods told me a few weeks ago that 0.25mm was nothing to worry about.

Cheapest thing would be start with balancing, snap ring adjustment, and new OEM joint install all done by a reputable shop. Checking operating angles is free. Checking that your axle is centered side to side on the frame is free (affects angles). Everything after that gets expensive quickly.
I have used original, GMB, and GKN joints, all with approx the same lifespan. I'm thinking more and more that the shafts are just "bad", worn out.
With loose/play I would say about 0.5 - 1.0mm, bad enough to start vibrations sooner or later. It's hard to video it wiggling with one hand and filming with the other and be able to see the movement.
Balancing would indeed be a good place to start if the yokes aren't just worn out.
The axles are centered ( adjustable panhard rods).
On the other hand, I've found a shop here in Europe that sells the front shafts for a manual gearbox, parttime 80 series (mine is automatic) for like really cheap, it's 20cm shorter, but I don't think it'll cost much to have it extended and balanced, so I might have a new one for like half the price. So maybe I got that covered.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
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My stock unlifted 1996 with 375,000 miles is still running the original rear U-joints. Smooth as silk going down the road. They've been greased regularly (every 5-10k max miles) their entire life, first using Mobil 1 synthetic grease then once they hit around 300K miles I switched to Valvoline Palladium with 3% Moly (because the grease gets flung out quicker than it used to).

Point is: something isn't right if all your U-joints are self destructing at 5000 miles??? Can't blame the weather in Belgium (low clouds, rain) or the Mayo on the Pommes Frites. ;)

FWIW
 
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Joined
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I have used original, GMB, and GKN joints, all with approx the same lifespan. I'm thinking more and more that the shafts are just "bad", worn out.
With loose/play I would say about 0.5 - 1.0mm, bad enough to start vibrations sooner or later. It's hard to video it wiggling with one hand and filming with the other and be able to see the movement.
Balancing would indeed be a good place to start if the yokes aren't just worn out.
The axles are centered ( adjustable panhard rods).
On the other hand, I've found a shop here in Europe that sells the front shafts for a manual gearbox, parttime 80 series (mine is automatic) for like really cheap, it's 20cm shorter, but I don't think it'll cost much to have it extended and balanced, so I might have a new one for like half the price. So maybe I got that covered.
Whatever you do next, use OEM parts and have a driveshaft shop (not you, or your local mechanic) check them out and do the work on the shafts. I'm sure you're capable of installing them, but there are a lot of things that a driveshaft shop will check or do to the shafts that your average person or mechanic won't know about and/or won't have the equipment for. You will probably get a 1 year or more warranty, so if something goes wrong prematurely you'll be covered.
 
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Jan 26, 2014
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Belgium
So, an update on this, since the last post (5 months ago) I have fitted a brand new genuine propshaft in the front, and since, 2 months a new rear one.
Now after 5 months 1 front U-joint seems to start getting play again (the one at the diff). It has been greased a couple of times in the timespan.
I think I'm putting it down to too much lift on the 80 series. So I ordered 4 other springs wich should lower it back an inch or more and hopefully be done with it.
I had to anyway as since recently I started getting driveline vibrations when decelerating on the highway and feathering the throttle pedal, this after I swapped my heavy ARB style winchbumper to a significant lighter one, wich had the front end come up a bit. This might have f*cked the front U-joint from the new shaft at the diff I think.
 

COYS

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I switched to Valvoline Palladium with 3% Moly (because the grease gets flung out quicker than it used to).

Hey Kernal, clearly you're doing something right along this front, but just in case you wanted to fix what's not broken, I've been advised to use a non-moly based grease on the shaft and joints by a few respected members here and by the driveshaft shop techs near me. I, too, was using Palladium, but have since loaded up my new OEM rear shaft with the below.


When I get around to it, I'll load up my front landtank DC with the crimson grease and stick with Palladium for the knuckles.
 

COYS

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For what reason?

"The recommended grease for roller bearings is lithium grease. Bearing assemblies like wheel bearings and the needle bearings in the drive shaft are some of the items that use lithium grease.

A Moly type grease is for high pressure assemblies like tie rod ends and birfields where parts slide on each other verses rolling on each other."
 
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Palladium is a lithium base, just moly fortified. Not saying to do one or the other, just noting....
 
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