If you enjoy taking your older model sports utility vehicle out into the woods for a day of fun driving down bumpy dirt roads and exploring the wilderness, then you will eventually notice the tell-tale signs of a universal joint failure on the rear axle. When the universal joint begins to fail, you will first hear some noise and then your vehicle will start to have problems driving straight on the road. If you do not recognise these early signs of a broken universal joint, then it can fail and cause catastrophic damage to your SUV's differential and transmission.
Here is some information about each of the symptoms of a universal joint failure to help you recognise a failing universal joint in your SUV before it has a chance to cause very expensive damage:
The Sounds Associated with a Rear Universal Joint Failure
When the universal joint of your SUV is damaged, it will start to make a metallic rattling sound. You will begin hearing a clanging noise coming from the backend of your vehicle. The noise resembles two metal cans being banged together, and it is the first sign of a problem with a universal joint.
When you shift your SUV into reverse or drive, you will also hear a clunking noise coming from the back end. This sound is caused by the universal joint moving when the differential moves into gear.
The Driving Problems Associated with a Rear Universal Joint Failure
The rear universal joint connects the driveshaft at the differential. When the universal joint becomes damaged, it will cause your SUV to have a very rhythmic vibration as you drive down the road. You will not feel anything at an idle, but as your SUV accelerates, the driveshaft will spin in an out-of-round motion and you will feel a vibration from side-to-side. The faster you drive, then the more vibration you will feel.
The Damage a Failed Rear Universal Joint Will Cause
When a rear universal joint fails on an SUV, it will cause the driveshaft to spin out of the transmission on one end and the differential on the other end. When the driveshaft becomes dislodged, it can cause damage to the internal parts of the differential and transmission as it comes flying out. This can easily ruin both parts. So, it is vital that you get your SUV into a mechanic (such as one from Foothill Service) at the first signs of a rear universal joint failure.