Propshaft Universal Joint

A propshaft universal joint is designed to let one or more rotating shafts to link together. As a sturdy mechanical device, this unit enables optimal transmission of torque and rotary missions. Similarly, it helps enhance transmission of power between two points that are not aligned with each other.

How Do They Work?

Propeller shafts or propshafts connect rear axles to gearboxes on front-engine rear-wheel-drive cars. The end of each unit has a universal joint (UJ) which enables the rear axle to move up and down. The movement correlates with the gearbox while protecting it from snapping or bending the shaft. Advanced metal fabrication services are used to create these compotents.

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Most propshaft units feature universal couplings in the center of the devices. Similarly, UJ units have cross-shaped designed that emulate spider legs. There are also needle roller bearings mounted onto the four arms via circlips and caps. The endings of the two shafts have yoked ends with lugs that connect to the spider arms and help pivot the roller bearings.

Universal Joint Maintenance

UJ joints are sealed for life in most automobiles. This means they cannot be lubricated or enhanced in newer cars. However, these joints can be removed from the propshaft in some older automobiles. This allows owners to check the joints while adding new lubrication. These parts, however, can be replaced if mechanical failure or corrosion is present in older models.

Propshaft joints may also have grease nipples. You will need to check with your car manufacturer about greasing intervals and service schedules. Newer cars have universal joints that cannot be separated from propshafts. Therefore, the propshaft must be replaced or renewed when the joints wear out. Again, they cannot be lubricated or enhanced in new cars so it's important to keep this in mind.

What about UJ Wear?

Worn joints can cause the propshaft to vibrate. These increases wear and tear which will be followed by longer vibrations. Another thing to look for is clonk sounds when accelerating or decelerating. Keep your ears open for these sounds when driving the car -- especially changing gears in standard units or highway -- service road driving.

You can also look for rust colors around the spider. This is a sign that the bearings of the joint are breaking up or not performing at peak rates. If this is happening, you must have a new joint or shaft fitted immediately. This will preserve the overall value of the unit unless it needs complete replacement.