How to Replace a Duramax U-Joint

Written by kevin mclain
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A Duramax is a General Motors built V8 diesel engine that can be found inside of light- and medium-duty GMC and Chevrolet trucks. The Duramax is just the brand of diesel engine inside of the truck. The factory equipped U-joints that come installed on the Duramax diesel engines come with plastic safety clips instead of metal retainer rings to hold the U-joint caps in place. Outside of the plastic clips, the U-joint replacement process is the same as it is for most all other GMC and Chevrolet trucks.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wheel chocks
  • Chalk
  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet
  • 1/2-inch drive deep-well socket set
  • Safety glasses
  • Handheld sledge hammer
  • Table vice
  • Handheld bottle torch
  • Flame ignitor
  • New U-joint kits
  • Snap ring pliers
  • Torque wrench

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Park the Duramax-equipped truck on a flat surface and engage the parking brake. Shut the engine off.

  2. 2

    Place the wheel chocks in the front of both front wheels and behind both front wheels.

  3. 3

    Slide under the driver side of the truck near the driver side door and locate the end of the driveshaft that is connected to the yoke on the back of the transmission. Mark the top of the transmission yoke and the top of the driveshaft with a piece of chalk so the driveshaft can be reinstalled in the same direction that it came out.

  4. 4

    Loosen and remove the four U-joint strap bolts from the front U-joint with a ratchet and a socket. Place the straps and the strap bolts in a safe place. Pull back on the driveshaft and lower it to the ground. If the driveshaft yoke is hard to move, use a handheld sledge hammer to tap the top side of the driveshaft yoke until it is free of the transmission yoke. Pull the end caps off of the U-joint and place them with the straps and the strap bolts.

  5. 5

    Move to the rear of the driveshaft that is connected to the yoke on the rear differential. Mark the top of the rear differential yoke and the top of the driveshaft yoke with the piece of chalk also. Loosen and remove the four strap bolts from the U-joint strap with the ratchet and socket. Place the straps and bolts in a safe place.

  6. 6

    Pull the end of the driveshaft out of the differential yoke. Use the sledge hammer if necessary. Pull the end caps off of the U-joint and place them with the straps and strap bolts. Slide the driveshaft out from under the truck. Place the front driveshaft yoke into the jaws of a table vice with the U-joint caps inside of the driveshaft yoke facing up and down. Tighten the vice around the end of the driveshaft.

  7. 7

    Turn the bottle torch on and ignite the flame. Hold the flame over the plastic clips that are in front of both U-joint caps until the plastic clips have been entirely melted. Use a flathead screwdriver to pry out any excess plastic from the groove above the U-joint caps. Turn the bottle torch off and place it in a safe place.

  8. 8

    Locate a deep-well socket that is one size smaller than the U-joint caps. Place the end of the deep-well socket over the top U-joint cap. Tap the top of the socket with a handheld sledge hammer until the bottom U-joint cap pushes out of the bottom of the driveshaft yoke. Use pliers if necessary to finish removing the cap.

  9. 9

    Loosen the vice and turn the driveshaft yoke over so the exposed U-joint is facing up and the remaining U-joint cap is facing down. Tighten the vice back tight around the driveshaft. Place the deep-well socket over the exposed U-joint and tap the top of the socket with the handheld sledge hammer until the bottom cap pushes out through the bottom of the dirveshaft yoke. Use the pliers if necessary to finish removing the cap.

  10. 10

    Pull the old U-joint out through the front of the driveshaft yoke with your hands. Angle the U-joint, if necessary, to get it out through the front of the driveshaft yoke. Insert the new U-joint into the front of the driveshaft. Place a new U-joint cap over the top of the U-joint. Tap the top of the cap with the hammer until the top of the cap is past the snap ring groove. Insert the snap ring into the groove above the cap with the snap ring pliers.

  11. 11

    Loosen the vice and turn the driveshaft yoke over so the other half of the U-joint is facing upward. Place the cap over the top of the U-joint. Tap the cap with the hammer until the top of the cap is past the snap ring groove. Insert the snap ring into the groove above the cap with the snap ring pliers.

  12. 12

    Loosen the vice and flip the entire driveshaft over so the rear U-joint is inside of the vice. Repeat the same U-joint replacement process as outlined in the steps above to replace the rear U-joint. Loosen the vice and slide the driveshaft with the new U-joints underneath the truck.

  13. 13

    Match the front driveshaft yoke up with the chalk marks on top of the driveshaft and on top of the transmission yoke. Push the front U-joint into the transmission yoke. Place the U-joint straps over the front of the U-joint, and screw the strap bolts in tight. Torque the strap bolts down to 30-35 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and a socket. Move to the rear U-joint and repeat this step to reinstall the rear driveshaft yoke to the rear differential yoke. Also tighten the rear U-joint strap bolts down to 30-35 foot-pounds.

  14. 14

    Move the wheel chocks and test drive the Duramax truck for about 10 minutes. Park the truck and recheck the torque settings of each strap bolt to ensure that the bolts are still tightened to 30-35 foot-pounds.

Tips and warnings

  • The U-joint caps can also be removed from the U-joints by using a small deep-well socket on one end of the U-joint and a bigger socket over the other end of the U-joint cap to catch the cap as it is being pushed out.
  • Make sure the chalk marks are matched up when reinstalling the driveshaft. If not, the driveshaft will be difficult to reinstall to the transmission yoke and the rear differential yoke.
  • Do not over torque the strap bolts. This will result in breaking the bolts off inside of the driveshaft yoke.

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