Adventures of replacing a CV joint on my driveshaft

Let me share a repair I recently performed on my 1998 Ford Ranger 4x4. I noticed one day that I had a noise coming from my truck as I drove it. This lasted for about a month, kept getting louder and started to pick up a small vibration. I quickly found the source of the noise, the CV joint on the front driveshaft was failing.

Upon looking at the driveshaft I was somewhat perplexed. I had never seen a driveshaft with a CV joint in it. I have replaced many a driveshaft with the traditional cross type universal joint. I mean, how hard can this be? I’ve replaced front half shafts on front wheel drive cars and torn the shafts apart to “see how they work.”

I mean, after all I am a competent mechanic! Can’t be that hard, right? So, I prepared myself for the quick task to rebuild the shaft on Saturday. I ordered the rebuild kit along with a couple of other parts I want to replace on the truck. So Saturday rolls around and I decide to sleep in a little, just to make sure I’m fully rested for the planned tasks. I finally get up, eat breakfast (more like brunch, but don’t tell anyone) and grab the trusty do it yourself repair manual out of the truck. Hum, looks like it’s going to rain.

Back into the house to read how the experts did this job. Read through the entire section on type of driveshaft used in the Ford Rangers. Single cardan, double cardan, slip yoke & center carrier bearing types. Tells me how to remove them, what to look for, what tools to use to remove them. It tells me how to press the universal joints out and reinstall them. Really good information, all of it I already know, but can’t hurt to review this. OK, now to read about the CV driveshaft. “Ford used a CV type driveshaft on the front axle of 1998 and later trucks…”, nothing on how to remove it or how to rebuild it. How do I remove the driveshaft? Does it have a slip yoke in the transfer case? Is this driveshaft mounted to a flange? OK, it must be in here and I’m just missing it.

Nothing! So I’m on my own. No problem, remember what I said, I’m a competent mechanic.

Are you kidding me, it’s raining now!

Grab some tools, and crawl under the truck. Start to remove the bolt off the front of the driveshaft. 3/8” & 7/16” combination wrenches, none of my wrenches will fit the bolts. My pants are wet now, water is inching its way up my back. Stupid wrenches, bolts must be metric. Crawl out and get more wrenches, I’m wetter now. Crawl under, it’s tight, I’m old and out of shape, now water is pooling under my back. OK, 8mm, 9mm & 10mm, nothing will fit. I can’t see the bolts because water spots are on the inside of my glasses. Then I notice there are Allen sockets in the bolt head. Crawl out and get the Allen wrenches and remove the bolts.

Stopped raining now, really doesn’t matter. I’m wet anyway.

Now just slide the slip yolk out and to the garage. I pulled and nothing, not even a little. It must be stuck. OK, so pull harder. Nearly pulled the CV joint apart! Wow, it’s really stuck. Crawl out again and get the small pry bar. A couple of light tugs and I realize it’s not coming. Small epiphany, maybe the bolts holding the CV joint together is stopping it from coming out.

Ok, I know those bolts are 10mm. Grab the ¼” drive metric sockets and start to remove the bolts. I struggle to remove one and start on the second of six. OK stupid, this would be much easier if you would remove the skip plate. Four bolts later and I have clear access. I remove the last of the bolts and the driveshaft falls out nearly hitting me in the head. Wow, flange mounted! Sun is poking out, should have waited a couple of hours to do this.
The rebuild is way less eventful as well as the installation. Get everything done and the sun comes out. Of course it does, I’m done with the driveshaft. Oh well, remember, I’m a competent mechanic.

Until the next adventure, keep your axles in the shade!

Tags: repair

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