Replacing a Universal Joint
Updated April 18, 2010
I've never had good luck removing drive shafts and this was no different. I was installing my nice new rear Detroit locker which requires removal of the drive shaft. Removing the drive shaft. means you have to unbolt the U- joint end cap clamps. Every time I do this I always end up dropping one of the caps and spilling the needle bearings; and this was no exception. Since I was putting in a brand-new differential I figured it couldn't hurt to replace the universal joint.
The bearing caps use a 8mm socket. You will also need an 11/16 socket and a 1 1/8 socket.
The U joints are Spicer 5-213X or equivalent. 15.00 ea. New joints come with a grease fitting and new snap rings.
The Universal joint or U-joint is made up of the cross, end caps with needle bearings, a strap kit consisting of the 2 bolts and steel strap and the grease fitting. I use the terms U-joint and cross interchangeably in the directions. The end cap is also called the bearing cup. If you lose one of the little bolts you should be able to pickup a strap kit at a good auto parts store.
Note exactly which side of the cross the grease fitting is on before you take the U-joint apart. If you put it on wrong it may be difficult or impossible to get a grease gun on the fitting. On the rear drive shaft the grease fitting points toward the center of the truck.
Remove the the 2 bearing caps from the cross.
Remove the 2 snap rings from the drive shaft yoke ends.
Support the drive shaft so it's sitting level with the 1-1/8 socket facing open side up on the bottom. Place the 11/16 socket on top of the bearing cap and tap it down until the cross contacts the bottom of the drive shaft yoke.
You can press the bearing out in a vise that has a very wide opening jaw. My vise wouldn't open wide enough so I used the big hammer technique.