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Tech: when to replace U-joints?

Joined
Oct 30, 2001
Messages
2,273
Location
Glen Burnie, MD, USA
Corvette
1986 Bright Red Coupe
As far as I know, my Vette has the original universal joints at 134k miles. I'm getting drivetrain shimmy at highway speeds (seems more vehicle speed than engine speed and happens more in overdrive than direct). Essentially, my gearshift is shaking enough to make rattling noises.

Yes, this could be a tire issue but they were just balanced and rotated (f->r, not side-side) and a full 4-wheel alignment done, and the problem hasn't changed.

I also get occasional clunks when changing direction or backing up but I also get clunks from the power steering system when turning the wheel while stopped.

Any suggestions, both for whether this sounds like the culprit and what to replace with? I was looking at getting Summit's "deluxe" joints, which have grease fittings, but the sales guy couldn't find a match for my car and sent me to a Vette parts house (Thayer? Corvette in PA).

Thanks...
[RICHR]
 

Spiderman

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Messages
139
Location
Grand Haven, MI, USA
Corvette
Gorgeous White '91 Coupe
With my limited (yet improving everyday :)) Corvette knowledge, universal joints on a cared for Vette should be trouble free for about 100,000 miles, along with the wheel bearing hub assemblies.
With 134,000 miles and these parts being the original units, I'd say although they have served you well, there due for replacement.

Spiderman :w
 
R

RalleyRed

Guest
Sounds to me as though you need to have the frontend looked at too.
That clunking when turning the wheel is definitely telling you it needs some work.

Rick
 

cntrhub

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 17, 2002
Messages
390
Location
North Hollywood, Ca.
Corvette
Miss my '62 & '80 4- Sp. Vettes
check wheel bearings

Raise one wheel off the ground at a time. Think safety! Place one hand at 12 o'clock and the other hand at 6 o'clock. Pull the 6 o'clock hand towards you and push the 12 o'clock hand away from you. Reverse the mode... i.e., push/pull. You should feel zero play when you do this. If you feel any movement, the center wheel bearing are going bad. These are sealed bearings units, and cannot be lubed like conventional wheel bearings. Your choice is to buy rebuilts from Vette jobbers or new from GM.
Now for the U-joints. Place a stout flat blade screwdriver in (+) cross opening of the U-joint, then load on the cross. Notice the joint move in the caps. If all looks tight, I would begin searching for suspension rubber mounts that may be deteroriating from age and/or milage.
 
S

Shadowing1985v

Guest
hmm

umm

i replaced both my back end,, u joints on my 85

not to hard of a job,, but,, the systom is,,, nose,, like,, umm,, well its a noise,,,, but,, the noise won't happen,, on aroutine,, it will do it when it feel slike it, so unexpectly, sigh

oh and one thing,,, in a 2 week, period,,, it got so worse,, well it was really loud,, just going 10 mph down the road,, so it will get worse really soon, if its the unjoint,, so thats another thing,,
 
D

Drewser

Guest
Again...what? 85v, are you speaking english?
I must agree with the new guy. Jack up the front end and check for excessive play. 134K is ready for new joints. Even if they aren't bad, they will be soon. How is the condition of the rest of your rubber on the car? If you are hearing clunks during steering, then something is wrong. Have you checked the tightness of your lugnuts? Simple I know, but...it has happened here.
--Drew:w
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2001
Messages
2,273
Location
Glen Burnie, MD, USA
Corvette
1986 Bright Red Coupe
Well, the lugnuts are fine (tires have been on and off several times since I got the car). Replaced the left-side wheel bearings recently (right side checked out fine; previous owner had done them).

Some of the suspension mounts are up for replacement next week (front upper/lower control arm bushings, sway bar bushings) with urethane. The rubber ones are definitely on their way out. Shocks are brand new, so those bushings are fine. The front-end noise-while-turning I attribute to the R&P system aging and probably won't deal with it right now. Of course, if someone wants to throw a Z-51 quick-ratio R&P at me, I'd not say no :) .

Unfortunately, I don't have the equipment to do those joints (or most of the bushings) myself so into the shop it goes :( .

Thanks, guys.
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vigman

Motor head!!!!
Joined
Feb 13, 2001
Messages
3,471
Location
Valencia, CA,USA
Corvette
88 Convert ( SOLD ) /1973 coupe 4 speed/1964 Vert!
U joints & U

Do em now...if they let go...OUCH...and you think just the U joint job is expensive.

While the car is up in the air check the wheel bearings... replace as needed.

Do the drive shaft too! It's a biatch to r&r gotta loosen & move the center I beam between the tranny tail & diff ( pain in the @ss)

MARK THE POSITION OF THE HALF SHAFTS & YOKES & DRIVE SHAFT TOO!

If you do not need to replace the rear wheel bearings do remove the yokes clean up the splines and re torque em.


My .02

Vig!

and Shadow...use a spell checker..or something you are EXTREEMLY difficult to understand.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2001
Messages
2,273
Location
Glen Burnie, MD, USA
Corvette
1986 Bright Red Coupe
I was quoted $100/shaft + parts to do the u-joints (which doesn't seem that bad to me as long as the mechanic doesn't replace what doesn't need doing).

Any thoughts on sealed joints versus grease-fitted? Ecklers sells grease-fitted ones for $16 each, which seems a decent price (Summit Racing's start around the same price).

I was reading in my service manual about how u-joints work. Fascinating!
[RICHR]
 
7

78SilvAnniv

Guest
limited experience...

...but I've experienced clunks: (yokes worn out, u-joints worn)
(if there is also 'groaning' when rear wheels first turn from a stop, this could be your yokes and/or rearend)
...and road noise(hum/whine) in two different vehicles: (wheel bearings)

I don't know what to suggest about the front clunk noises when turning the wheel at a stop. Definitely sounds like something is loose that shouldn't be.

Regarding the intermittent "noise" you are experiencing...
My '83 Oldsmobile had the intermittent noise. It occured at all speeds, sometimes only on RH turns/curves then then it would switch to LH turns/curves and sometimes it would occur while going straight. The noise only occured during one of those descriptions at a time. Like: RH turns/curves, but not LH or straight. It would vary back and forth between these combinations.
This was a wheel bearing problem that I let go too long. Not long enough to irreparably damage the vehicle, but enough to let me know I couldn't let problems like that go for any length of time.

The noise is alerting you to a potentially serious problem.

Listen to your baby, she's trying to tell you something. ;)
Silver
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2001
Messages
2,273
Location
Glen Burnie, MD, USA
Corvette
1986 Bright Red Coupe
Re: yeah sorry

Shadowing1985v said:
i will reread what i write for now on,,

Just try typing slower. If you're like me, your brain runs faster than your fingers can follow... I'm always transposing letters or running words together if I type fast (fortunately, compilers catch stuff like that at work :) ).

Also, check your punctuation - using commas instead of periods makes things harder to read.
[RICHR]
 

cntrhub

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 17, 2002
Messages
390
Location
North Hollywood, Ca.
Corvette
Miss my '62 & '80 4- Sp. Vettes
rrubel's "shimmy at highway speeds..."

I reread your question again. Is this an automatic transmission? When you experience a shimmy/chatter in overdrive, the torque coverter is usually the problem. Here's a trick. Drive the car on the highway and make sure you are in overdrive. If you feel the shimmy happening, ever so slightly tap on the brake. (Basically what this does, is send a signal to the trans, to get out of OD.) If you feel the shimmy go away, it's your torque converter. This test is for automatic transmissions only!
I know there are so many variables to suspension shakes, but now you have a new troubleshooting parameter to eliminate as a phantom problem. If there is no change to the "brake tap test" then, I steered you in the wrong direction... (no pun intended.)
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2001
Messages
2,273
Location
Glen Burnie, MD, USA
Corvette
1986 Bright Red Coupe
It's a 4+3 manual... while there's an auto on the end of it, I don't believe it's got a torque converter (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

Guys, I've already replaced the wheel bearings with brand-new AC Delco parts so that has no... bearing... on the current problem.

Ball joints checked out OK when I bought the car (they also look fairly new). Haven't looked at idler arm, tie rod ends, or steering knuckle. Will check those out.

Thanks for the suggestions.
[RICHR]
 

jsinga

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2001
Messages
280
Location
Savannah, GA, USA
Corvette
87 Silver Coupe Way over 200k miles
134K it needs u-joints in the half-shafts. Look for signs of rust around the ends of the u-joint cups, especially the outer ones.
Get the heavy duty u-joints without zerks. A grease gun won't get in there anyway and they will just dry out faster. Decent ones are @ $15 each.
Replacing them will get rid of your high speed vibration.
I've done it 2 times now it's not that tuff. Takes about 4 hours at home.

JS
 

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