How to Replace the Universal Joint Bearings on a Chevy Silverado

Written by kevin mclain
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The Chevy Silverado model trucks come equipped with U-joints that turn the driveshaft. The U-joints are positioned at each end of the driveshaft and when the transmission is put into gear, the transmission yoke turns the front of the driveshaft. The driveshaft turns the yoke that is attached to the rear differential and the gears inside of the rear differential then turn both rear axles and both rear wheels. Over time, the U-joint cap bearings will wear down and cause slack in the driveshaft.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Wheel chocks
  • Chalk
  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet
  • 1/2-inch drive socket set
  • Safety glasses
  • Handheld sledge hammer
  • Bench vice
  • Snap-ring pliers
  • Channel-lock pliers
  • New U-joints with cap bearings
  • Torque wrench

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  1. 1

    Position the wheel chocks in front and behind both front wheels.

  2. 2

    Slide under the Chevy Silverado near the driver-side door. Locate the end of the driveshaft, attached to the back of the transmission. Mark the top of the transmission yoke with the piece of chalk. Also mark the top of the driveshaft straight across from the mark on the transmission yoke. This is to ensure that the driveshaft is reinstalled in the same direction that it came out.

  3. 3

    Loosen and remove the U-joint strap bolts with a ratchet and a socket. Remove the bolts and the straps from both sides of the U-joint and place them in a safe area. Pull back on the driveshaft to remove it from the transmission yoke. Use a handheld sledge hammer, if necessary, to tap the front of the driveshaft out of the transmission yoke. Lay the end of the driveshaft on the ground.

  4. 4

    Move to the rear of the driveshaft and remove the U-joint strap bolts from the rear U-joint with the ratchet and socket. Pull back on the end of the driveshaft to remove the rear U-joint from the rear differential yoke. Lay the end of the driveshaft on the ground.

  5. 5

    Slide out from under the Chevy Silverado and pull the driveshaft out from under the truck. Place one end of the driveshaft into the bench vice. Pull the snap rings out from over the U-joint caps with the snap-ring pliers.

  6. 6

    Locate a socket that will fit perfectly into one end of the U-joint caps. Locate another socket that is bigger than the U-joint caps. Place the socket that fits into the U-joint cap over one of the U-joint caps and place the bigger socket over the opposite U-joint cap. Close the vice onto the sockets until the proper-size socket pushes the U-joint cap out into the bigger socket.

  7. 7

    Loosen the vice and finish removing the U-joint cap bearings from the U-joint. Swap the sockets so that the proper-size socket is on the other U-joint cap and the bigger socket is over the U-joint end with no cap. Close the vice until the other cap pushes through the end of the driveshaft. Use channel-lock pliers, if necessary, to finish removing the caps.

  8. 8

    Pull the U-joint out of the end of the driveshaft with your hand. Insert the new U-joint into the end of the driveshaft and place the U-joint cap bearings over both ends of the U-joint. Close the vice onto both U-joint caps until the caps are pressed completely onto both ends of the U-joint. Insert the new snap rings into the grooves above each U-joint cap with the snap-ring pliers.

  9. 9

    Turn the driveshaft over so that the other U-joint is inside of the vice. Place the sockets over both U-joint caps and close the vice onto the sockets. Repeat the same U-joint cap replacement process as outlined in the steps above.

  10. 10

    Slide the driveshaft back under the truck. Position the front end of the driveshaft into the transmission yoke and match both chalk marks up with each other. Reinstall the U-joint straps and screw the bolts in tight. Tighten the U-joint strap bolts down tight with the ratchet and socket. Torque the strap bolts down to 25 to 35 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and a socket.

  11. 11

    Slide the rear of the driveshaft into the rear differential yoke. Reinstall the U-joint straps over the ends of the U-joint. Screw the strap bolts into the yoke and tighten the bolts down tight with the ratchet and socket. Torque the rear strap bolts down to 25 to 30 foot-pounds with the torque wrench and socket.

  12. 12

    Remove the wheel chocks and drive the Chevy Silverado around for about 10 minutes. Park the truck and recheck the torque on the strap bolts with the torque wrench and socket.

Tips and warnings

  • Always replace the U-joints and the U-joint cap bearings together.
  • The U-joint kits cam be bought at most auto-parts stores.
  • Always wear safety glasses when hammering on metal.

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