How to Replace Driveshaft U Joints 07-14 Chevy Suburban

How to  Replace Driveshaft U Joints 07-14 Chevy Suburban

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 for quality auto parts,
fast and free shipping and the best customer service in the industry.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Having a brief clip at the start to demonstrate the noise is a HUGE help. Great idea I wish all repair videos did that. Especially for difficult to describe noises that only happen while driving. This is the exact noise my Silverado is making. Great job guys.

  2. About to change out both my rear diff and transfer case joints on my 05 Tahoe z71. Kinda nervous about screwing this up but this video helped out a ton! Appreciate videos like these!

  3. Gm has special plastic inside the driveshaft that keep the joints from falling out. No wonder it was so hard to take out the caps cause they didn’t melt them

  4. It is nice to see a real world tutorial where things don't go perfectly in each step! Thanks for the great video!!

  5. Pounding on the driveshaft with a socket is a disaster waiting to happen, bent ears, closing the grooves for the clips, you are replacing the u joint, pound on it. And enough with the rust penetrant already.

  6. Tech tip #2, if you are pounding on a socket, hammer on the hex end, not the square end, it’s much easier to fix the hex end when you beat it to death.

  7. i have never indexed any driveshafts that ive removed. in fact, many service manuals tell you to rotate 180 degrees from original position if you have vibration. in my opinion its a waste of time unless nothing was replaced. doing a u-joint defeats the purpose.

  8. believe it or not you can actually do it without taking the drive shaft off the truck most of the time

  9. I dont have a car lift can I do this while my car is on the ground? Or should I Jack up a side or???

  10. Awesome video! Question, do u joints typically start leaking fluid when they’re real bad? Looks red to me, so I’m assuming it’s tranny fluid. Noticed a good amount of fluid on the bottom of my truck, didn’t know if that’s normal or if there is something else that is wrong?

  11. Good to see a video where they have a hard time doing it rather than it being smooth sailing throughout the entire process makes you appreciate your mechanics work and what he has to go through to get things done

  12. Take a screw driver and tap the snap ring to get it to move. Or take socket that fits the size of the cap on u joint and smack the clip to loosen up. This video hurt to watch.

  13. Wait when you first grabbed on the drive shaft and it rotated side to side. Is that the u joints doing? Or is that another problem to fix?

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