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How to Properly Grease a U-Joint

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U-joints, allow the driveshaft to maintain similar movements like that of your car’s suspension system. Therefore keeping them lubricated will prevent noise and wear. The engine produces the power that enables your car to move. This power is first transmitted through the driveshaft to the drive axle. The axle then transmits the power to the ground through the wheels. However, the suspension of your vehicle needs to keep up with the uneven road surfaces like turns, and potholes. Your vehicle’s driveshaft needs to support all these uneven surfaces of the road. The driveshaft, therefore, has to be flexible.

properly grease a u-joint

Source: legovaughan under CC 2.0

Now, this is where u-joints come in handy. U-joints are usually located at both ends of the driveshaft and allow it to maintain a proper balance while traveling up and down with suspension movement. Below are some of the steps to help you lubricate the u-joints to make sure it works properly.

Step 1: Lift Up Your Vehicle

Since u-joints are located at the bottom of your car, you will need to lift it up. To do this, you need wheel chocks, jack stands, and a floor jack. Ensure you are using jack stands and a floor jack with a suitable weight capacity to lift your vehicle. If you are not sure of the weight of your vehicle, check the VIN label usually located on the door jamb or inside the driver’s door. Place the wheel chocks, one in front and one behind the front wheel. Put the floor jack under the center of the differential/axle. When the jack stand is correctly stationed, jack up the vehicle slowly till the tire is raised past the ground. Place your vehicle on top of the jack stands.

Step 2: Access the Rear Axle

Access the rear axle by using a cardboard/wood or a creeper. Then locate the grease fitting joint on the rear u-joint. The rear u-joint is located where the rear axle meets the driveshaft. A grease fitting joint is found in the center of the u-joint. You can use your hand to rotate the driveshaft slightly to access the grease fitting joint.

Step 3: Clean the U-Joint and Use Appropriate Grease

Before applying grease to the u-joint, ensure you have thoroughly cleaned the grease fitting and the surrounding area to make sure you have gotten rid of contaminants. Also, ensure that you are using the correct type of grease. Not all types of grease work well on U-joints. You will need to look for a high-quality lithium based grease with corrosion and rust protection, and water tolerant. Lithium based grease is highly cohesive and highly adhesive it provides high grease tenacity, extended lubrication periods and reduced leakage. This reduces maintenance intervals and the requirement for your u-joint.

Step 4: Grease the U-Joint

Grease the u-joint by attaching the grease gun to the grease fitting joint. Squeeze in grease several times until you see clean grease come out of the u-joint or until a small amount of grease come out. When finished, wipe out excess grease from the joint.

u joint illustration

Source: Van helsing under CC 3.0

Step 5: Access the Front U-Joint

Most cars do not have front driveshaft u-joints. But if yours is a four-wheeled drive vehicle, then it is likely that it has and needs to be lubricated as well. Front u-joints are located where the transmission and the driveshaft connect. Roll yourself forward to the front u-joint using a creeper. The procedure to grease the front u-joints is similar the one above for rear u-joints, so repeat the above procedure. When you are done, raise the vehicle off the jack stands. Take out the jack stands from underneath the vehicle and gradually bring down the vehicle using the floor jack. Some four-wheeled vehicles also have u-joints below each front wheel. If yours is similar to this, then you need to grease both u-joints using the same procedure while the vehicle is on jack stands.

Conclusion

Lubricating the u-joint can have a significant impact on the operations of the driveshaft, especially on bumpy roads. The above steps ensure that you comfortably lubricate the u-joints of your vehicle with ease. If you do it right, then you will reduce the maintenance practices of your vehicle. The standard lubrication interval under normal conditions is after every 500 hours. Unfavorable conditions like water, dirt, and temperature might reduce the interval. With proper lubrication, you can easily prolong the life of your driveshaft and reduce failures due to improper lubrication.

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Updated: September 9, 2018

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