The Ford Ranger is a rear-wheel drive pickup truck and, as such, uses a driveshaft. The driveshaft transmits the power produced by the engine and transmission at the front of the truck to the rear axle via a universal joint. Within the universal joint are four sets of bearings coated in grease. Over time, these bearings wear out and produce a clunking sound upon acceleration. The Ranger's universal joint is a sealed component, meaning that it cannot be repaired. However, replacement universal joints are readily available, but the driveshaft must first be removed.
Access the Driveshaft
Because the driveshaft is located along the centre of the bottom of the truck, the truck must be raised with a floor jack to access it. Before raising the truck, wheel chocks should be placed in front of both front tires to prevent the truck from inadvertently rolling forward, particularly when the truck is being lifted. The most common lift point is underneath the differential, but the truck may also be lifted under the frame rails. Many floor jacks have wheels to enable the jack to be manoeuvred easily, while other jacks must be placed at the precise lift point. Either design presents the risk that the vehicle may slide off of the jack. Therefore, the truck should be lowered onto a pair of support stands placed either under the axle shafts or under the frame rails. Finally, the parking brake must be applied to ensure that the driveshaft does not spin when an attempt to loosen the U-bolts securing the driveshaft to the differential is made.
Remove the Driveshaft
The end of the driveshaft that enters the transmission is commonly called the yoke, although it is sometimes referred to as the "sliding spine." The yoke slides into the back of the transmission by several inches. To remove the yoke, the opposite end of the driveshaft, meaning the end which connects to the differential, must be disconnected first. This end uses two U-bolts to secure itself to the differential. Each U-bolt is secured with two nuts, which must be removed with either an open-end or box-end wrench. Even with the U-bolts removed, this end of the driveshaft will still be attached to the differential. Push the driveshaft toward the transmission and the yoke will slide further into the transmission, thereby freeing the driveshaft from the differential. Before the driveshaft is removed from the transmission, it is important to place a dripping pan beneath the yoke of the driveshaft. The transmission contains fluid, which may exit the back of the transmission when the driveshaft is removed. To remove the driveshaft from the transmission, pull the driveshaft toward the back of the truck and the yoke will slide out of the transmission.