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Rear Axle Shaft U-joints


Scott E

I have an inner right rear axle shaft starting to spit out the u-joint cap needle brngs.Is this a major job to pull the axle shafts and replace the u-joints,vette just turned 100K and I know Ive driven it hard and I want to change all 4,but was just curious how serious this job is? I am very mechanically able,but just havent been there on a vette. Thanks in advance
I just replaced the ujoints in the passenger side half shaft on my 85. It took all of about 2.5 hours start to finish. Really not that bad of a job. Need help just ask....Vigman has a great break down on how to do the job. Worked well for me.

Replacing all of the U-joints is the first thing I did when I bought my 86 with 98,000 miles on it. The half shafts are fairly easy. Haynes has an excellent repair manual that details each step. The only thing I did different was I took off the lower control arm at the wheel end instead of the differential end. That way I didn't change the alignment. I also C clamped 2 pieces of wood on top and below the fiberglass spring to protect it and keep the jack from slipping. Get a "Jack-a-Vette" attachment for your floor jack. It slips between the two exhaust pipes and has a notch that mates with the differential - works great!

Each u-joint bearing cup that was pressed into the aluminum half shaft had nothing but red dust in it and bits of needles. The ones that bolted to the iron yokes on the differential and axle stub were in great shape - lots of good lube left. That's why I hear folks put down aluminum drive shafts, due to electrolisis. If you have never pressed in u-joint cups before, then I'd suggest taking them to a drive shaft shop. If you buy the u-joints from them, they'll install them for a nominal charge. If you want to try it your self, you can use a large vise and a socket to do it. Personnally, I use a 12" C clamp. It also works great on retracting brake caliper pistons.

The drive shaft is surrounded by a channel that connects the transmission and the differential. It looked to me that I'd have to jack up the back of the car too high or put it on 4 stands to get to the drive shaft. I chickened out and had a shop with a lift to that part - glad I did. If I can't hold the car up with 2 jack stands AND my 3 ton floor jack, then I don't get under the car.

While I was at it, I also replaced the rear wheel bearings. Bought some after market ones from one if the Corvette mail order folks. Wish I'd gone with the AC Delco ones. The after market ones have soft wheel studs that feel like they're about to give at 100 ft-lb.

It is really worth while to do all of this - makes the car drive much smoother.


I replaced the 4 drive axle u-joints as well, not a bad job. Old ones were powdered as well at 100k miles, the outer ones were in worse condition than the inners.
Just curious, Dennis when they replaced the Driveshaft joints what was the condition? Did you see the old ones? I believe, but I may be wrong, that the support bar from Transmission reduces the movement of those 2 joints in the Driveshaft and therefore they wear much less!
Anybody else experience this?
You're right, the drive shaft joints were probably fine. I didn't see them, but after I replaced the half shaft joints all of the vibration was gone. I had the drive shaft joints replaced just to make sure all was well.
I've put in the 2nd set of u-joint in my 197k mi 87. Had the exhaust system off when the pre cat broke up and plugged up the main cat and changed the main driveshaft u-joints. They showed minor wear. I think (maybe dream) it smoothed it out a little bit crusing at 80mph.

half shaft universal joints

Hello Scott, I changed all four universal joints and a rear wheel bearing assembly in my recently purchased '87 with 120k. It took a Haynes manual and a full weekend but it was worth it. My local dealer wanted $120 apiece for the universal joints plus $200 labor. I paid $10 apiece for the universal joints and $126 for the wheel bearing assembly. I know these were not "GM" parts but do you really think GM produced all their own parts? N0 they came from other companies.I had never seen the underside of a Corvette before, but I would rather see if I can fix it myself than be out too much money that could go toward another project. I ended up taking mine to the dealer to have it looked at after I worked on it just to ease my mind. Their Corvette specialist said it was all fine. That gives you confidence to go on with other projects. Bottom line Scott... go for it!
I callled a local corvette repair facility,they wanted $450.00 to do both sides,I thought this was kind steep,so I called Drivtrain Specialists and priced the Spicer U-joints for like 12.00 bucks each,now I am reallly thinkin that 400.00 labor is kinda high,but I know time is money,but I think Im gonna give it a shot.Is it common for the wheel brng assy's to be a problem at 100k,and also where is a good place to get fair priced assy's? thanks for all your inputs! Scott
100k the wheel bearings are questionable. Get their end play checked with a dial indicator. I think they should have max .006in any more and they will cause the car to wander over rutted out roads. look at the front while you are at it. I got the ones in my car at Pep Boys. From what I hear not they are @ $125 ea. You have to take the halfshafts out to do the wheel bearings so do them all at once.


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