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Signs of bad u-joints/ball joints?

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Old 04-06-2009, 12:11 AM   #1
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Default Signs of bad u-joints/ball joints?

How do you know if your u-joints or ball joints are bad? I'm guessing there is play in the steering, but how do you pin-point what exactly is bad? My truck starts to shake at around 60 mph, gets pretty annoying on long trips. Also, it has recently developed what feels like the dreaded "death wobble", but I don't even have larger than stock tires or a lift. That occurs around 40 mph when it happens. I recently replaced the inner and outer wheel bearings. One last thing, the front driver's side wheel is wearing unevenly, with the inside 1.5" being worn down much more than the rest of the tire. Is that just a sign that it needs an alignment, or other parts mentioned above? Thanks for reading this long-winded post.
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Old 04-06-2009, 12:21 AM   #2
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Best thing to do when checking ball joints is to take a nice size jack raise the vehicle by the I-beam in the front so that the tire is off the ground. take a large pry bar or crow bar and place it under the middle of the tire on the ground, pull up on bar so that u raise the tire up and down, have someone look under the truck with a light at the ball joints, if you can see the Stud of the joint going up and down there is too much play. your steering wheel play could be caused my ball joints, wheel bearings, tie rod ends, or gear box lash. a good test to check tie rods would be to start the truck and have someone look under the truck at the tie rods while u turn the steering wheel back and forth in a jerking motion. again any movement in the studs without the ball moving is too much play.
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:23 AM   #3
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what about the U-Joints on the driveshaft mr. ford mechanic 2009? your wisdom is pretty great.
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Old 04-06-2009, 04:39 AM   #4
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Checking the U-joints is easy:

Start the truck. Put it in drive while applying the brake. Shift into reverse. If you hear a loud clunk your U-joints are bad.

Shouldn't cause a wobble if they are out so I think you have other problems.
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:02 AM   #5
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U joints are also sometimes good for a squeak when taking off if they are bad
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:59 AM   #6
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"Start the truck. Put it in drive while applying the brake. Shift into reverse. If you hear a loud clunk your U-joints are bad."

that was is a great way to check U-joints, another great way it to take your driveshaft out, if you have 4x4 you have 4 12mm 12point bolts that hold the back u-joint carrier to the differential. with the driveshaft out, move the u-joint up and down and left to right, if there is Stiffness or if when u twist it it moves the slitest bit they are bad. U-joints will cause shuttering when they go bad but when they do go finally its not fun. i had my driveshaft fall out of my explorer and almost rip my rear end out from under the truck.
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Old 04-06-2009, 06:43 PM   #7
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maybe i'm just crazy, but that problem you're talking about sounds like your tires are out of balance and your alignment is off because of the uneven ware on your tires. Just a thought...
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:03 PM   #8
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what about tierod ends is there any play in the steering??
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