The most common cause of a U-Joint failure is lack of proper greasing. A maintenance schedule that includes greasing your U-Joints will help prevent premature failure of parts. The goal of greasing your U-Joints is to keep clean grease around the needle bearings. Proactively eliminating the possibility of metal-to-metal grinding wearing them out.
A good rule of thumb is to grease them at every oil change. If water crossings or mud is a common occurrence for you, you should grease them each time travel through water deeper than your hubs to ensure that water doesn’t get into the U-Joints.
Maintenance Tip: While under the vehicle, look around and see if rocks or branches have torn anything loose, if there are any new leaks, and how much play your U-joints have when rotating to grease them.
Steps to Greasing
- Clean area around U-Joint and Zerk Fitting, removing any dirt or extra grease.
- Apply grease gun end to Zerk Fitting.
- Begin pumping grease into U-Joint
- Watch for any liquid and debris to be purged from the caps of the joint.
- Stop when new grease begins to be purged from the joint.
- Wipe excess grease off U-Joint
Additional tips on rotating the driveshaft to reveal the zerk fitting or challenges with greasing can be found Here
This may be the coolest video on YouTube! Note, they had water inside the U-Joint as a visual for liquid and debris being purged: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH-fvddVt-g
Charlene Tip: If your Zerk Fitting is plugged, apply steady pressure for 30-60 seconds with the head locked on. The grease will usually start to flow. Frequent greasing will eliminate plugged Zerks!
What Type of Grease
"I believe frequent and thorough greasing is more important than the type of grease you use. This is primarily because one of the main results of a proper lubrication is a "flushing out" of any contaminants," said a Driveshaft Professional from the Industry.
Dana recommends lubrication with Spicer ultra-premium synthetic grease or Chevron Ultra-Duty EP-2 or a compatible lithium-based grease meeting N.L.G.I. Grade 2 specifications as well as ASTM D4950 LB specifications. Spicer ultra-premium synthetic grease is compatible with all NLGI-2 greases, and delivers professional-grade quality, even at high temperatures. Spicer ultra-premium synthetic grease is available in 10-packs of 14-oz. tubes (SPL1051), and 1-gal. pails (SPL1052).
Lifetime Greased U-Joints
Get longer life and lower maintenance costs for your universal joint with two lubrication options. Choose from a greaseable U-Joint or a non-greaseable U-Joint, which is pre-lubricated for the life of the part. Quality sealed U-Joints can be significantly stronger and more durable than greasable u-joints are since they don't have hollow grease channels running through them from the Zerk out to the each of the four bearings. A non-greasable U-Joint will not have a Zerk fitting.
U-Joints Article & Video: 5 Signs to Replace a U-Joint, by Charlene Bower
Bower Power Hour Video and Article: Tech & Tools - Driveshafts, by 30Pack Matt Hinitt
LIVE: U-Joints and Diff Covers in the Shop
Author: Charlene Bower
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