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Old 11-24-2011, 08:41 PM   #1
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Default U-joint and Ball Joint Replacement for front axle on '98 Cherokee

Took my '98 Cherokee 4x4 to the shop to get a clunking sound looked at ended up finding out all four ball joints and both U-joints on the front axle need to be replaced. Looking at a pretty hefty bill. Being a college student I realized that well getting this repaired by a shop just isn't going to happen. I ordered my new U-joints from Quadratec and have yet to order the ball joints. As I have to make these repairs myself I have several questions:

1. Do I have to remove the axle shafts all the way to replace the u joints?

2. How do I get the new U-joints in?

3. Do the ball joints need to be pushed out of their housing?

4. Does Dana make ball joints?

5. Is this something a first timer could do?

I have never done anything like this before, but as a college student money is tight and I think this would be a great chance for me to learn something about my jeep..
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Old 11-24-2011, 09:32 PM   #2
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having help from someone with the know how will help or youtube.com will be helpful for sure. but to get the axle u joints out you will need to pull the axle shafts out. take caliper and rotor off, take the 36mm axle nuts off, then the three 12 point 13mm hub bolts out. then beat the hub out of the knuckle. then the axles will slide out. pull out as level as possible to lessen the chance of damaging the shaft seal. once out then you need to press the ujoints out. look online for a video of that to see how its done. ball joints press out of the knuckle lower goes down and the upper goes up. then press them back in. Spicer is the brand you were referring to? im sure they do if not just go to a local parts store and get em. easy but time consuming job. be patient and give yourself a decent amount of time lol.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:51 AM   #3
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All four ball joints?

How modified is your XJ?

The three jeeps I've owned I've never had a bad ball joint:
90xj-232k miles
91xj 211k miles
99xj 103k miles

I have 5 inches of lift, 32 inch tires and spacer. Not a single problem with the ball joints.

The clunking noise should be a possible u joint but before you tear it apart make SURE the ball joints are really bad.
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:37 AM   #4
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X2, 90 with 262K, last 10 years with miles of washboard and potholes, no ball-joint issues....yet. I'd go after the worst u-joint first. I use to just use a hammer until I got a vise big enough. You might just take the axle into a shop with a press if you don't have access to a large vise. My O'Reillys loans tools free with a deposit of their full price. (you don't need to return it!) Don't know if they do that with a u-joint or ball-joint press.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:47 AM   #5
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U-joint replacement isn't hard with with a ball joint press, but you will need to take the axle out. You'll also want a good vice, so this may be a problem if you're doing it in your dorm room. I just did a U-joint replacement. Somewhere on this forum someone posted a video from YouTube that outlined the procedure, but the Haynes manual also has good info. However, I would NOT recommend the socket method recommended by Haynes. Rent the press from AutoZone, Advance, etc.

One thing you should be aware of is the oil seal down in the axle tube. If your Jeep has a lot of miles, you're probably going to want to replace this. It's not insanely hard, but it IS an ordeal and does require removing the gears from the differential. Nothing I read said to replace this seal, but it started leaking for me. When I asked about it later someone said that it should be replaced if the Jeep has a lot of miles. There is a write-up on it somewhere, if I find it I'll post it here.

If you want to replace the U-joint yourself, I would go ahead and do it without replacing the seal first and just keep an eye on it for a few weeks. If it starts to leak, you can replace the seal then.
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:36 PM   #6
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Default Another Question

Thanks for all the replies everybody. My Jeep is stock with no lift but oversized aftermarket tires and it has 220,xxx miles, and the ball joints are indeed worn out, on the lift in the shop where I had the clunking noise diagnosed I could clearly see the play in the ball joints when we used a pry bar, they moved up and down a good amount. I also remember another question that I had:

1. My steering has been pretty sloppy, when driving on the highway the tires tend to do their own thing, I know already that my steering box is worn out but will replacing the ball joints help at all with the steering?

The shop that diagnosed the problem mentioned something about worn out ball joints and chewing up tires. I have noticed my BFG All Terrains getting chewed up at the sides. The edges are getting rounded down.
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Old 11-25-2011, 07:58 PM   #7
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Any ideas whether or not ball joints affect steering at all?
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:25 PM   #8
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??? They do attach the searing knuckle. So I guess the short answer is, Yes!

Tie-rod ends also take a beating. If you watch closely underneath while somebody turns the wheel back and forth a little you can look for play/ things that don't start moving at the same time.
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I RECOMMEND 280 155 746 INJECTORS, FOR YOUR 87-90 JEEP. 4 holes are better than one, and they won't leak out the middle, like originals CAN.
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Old 11-26-2011, 12:15 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies, you guys have been pretty helpful. This task seems intimidating, but I have a month off of school so I have all the time I need, plus it doesn't hurt that the spoiled kid who always takes his Jeep to a shop finally has to do the hard work and learn something. I have another question though:

1. While reading my Haynes manual, I noticed that it said that one of the axle shafts has a locking clip in the axle housing, what do I use to remove this?

I figured for good measure that I would go ahead and replace the inner axle seals. This means taking out the gears, another intimidating task which I think I can handle.
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Old 11-26-2011, 12:43 PM   #10
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No the axle shouldn't have a clip. Taking out the center section is easy to do... The whole thing comes out.
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eorose View Post
U-joint replacement isn't hard with with a ball joint press, but you will need to take the axle out. You'll also want a good vice, so this may be a problem if you're doing it in your dorm room. I just did a U-joint replacement. Somewhere on this forum someone posted a video from YouTube that outlined the procedure, but the Haynes manual also has good info. However, I would NOT recommend the socket method recommended by Haynes. Rent the press from AutoZone, Advance, etc.

One thing you should be aware of is the oil seal down in the axle tube. If your Jeep has a lot of miles, you're probably going to want to replace this. It's not insanely hard, but it IS an ordeal and does require removing the gears from the differential. Nothing I read said to replace this seal, but it started leaking for me. When I asked about it later someone said that it should be replaced if the Jeep has a lot of miles. There is a write-up on it somewhere, if I find it I'll post it here.

If you want to replace the U-joint yourself, I would go ahead and do it without replacing the seal first and just keep an eye on it for a few weeks. If it starts to leak, you can replace the seal then.
I use the vice and hammer method on axle shaft U joints and I can do a pair in about 30 minutes, no need to rent/buy a u-joint press
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liftedjeepxj View Post
All four ball joints?

How modified is your XJ?

The three jeeps I've owned I've never had a bad ball joint:
90xj-232k miles
91xj 211k miles
99xj 103k miles

I have 5 inches of lift, 32 inch tires and spacer. Not a single problem with the ball joints.

The clunking noise should be a possible u joint but before you tear it apart make SURE the ball joints are really bad.
just because you think your rides didnt need balljoints dont mean his dont. and by the time he has the front end tore down enough to pull axle shafts, its just a pair of nuts on each side + disconnecting tie rods to pull the knuckles so he might as well do them regardless.
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slick761 View Post
No the axle shouldn't have a clip. Taking out the center section is easy to do... The whole thing comes out.
yeah, there's not a clip inside the differential for the front axle. But there is in the rear, though, depending on your axle.

There are c-clips that hold the u-joint, but I'm assuming that's not what you're talking about. if it is, you just knock them out with a hammer and screwdriver. your replacement joint should have come with new c-clips, so it's no biggie if you break the old ones.

E-rok - my u-joints were REALLY stuck in there, as I'm sure they're supposed to be. I'm not sure that the vice/socket method would have worked as well for me. and when you can rent the tools for free, why not go with that? But as I said, it's matter of preference. he could always try the vice method first and if that didn't work, get the tool. Also, I think the tool would be easier for someone who's not a pro like yourself.
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eorose View Post
yeah, there's not a clip inside the differential for the front axle. But there is in the rear, though, depending on your axle.

There are c-clips that hold the u-joint, but I'm assuming that's not what you're talking about. if it is, you just knock them out with a hammer and screwdriver. your replacement joint should have come with new c-clips, so it's no biggie if you break the old ones.

E-rok - my u-joints were REALLY stuck in there, as I'm sure they're supposed to be. I'm not sure that the vice/socket method would have worked as well for me. and when you can rent the tools for free, why not go with that? But as I said, it's matter of preference. he could always try the vice method first and if that didn't work, get the tool. Also, I think the tool would be easier for someone who's not a pro like yourself.
I didnt use sockets, the socket method is more for driveshaft u-joints not axle shaft u-joints
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:12 PM   #15
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Haha I just did my front joints. Literally like 5 minutes ago. I was saying the front axle isn't c clipped. Thought someone was asking earlier. My problem was I bent an ear on the axle slightly. Had to bend it back a bit to get the clips in.
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