Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Bad U - Joint in a 2001 GMC Sonoma


I own a 2001 GMC Sonoma pickup with 138,000 miles. I brought it into the shop to have a leaky brake line repaired.

I also asked the mechanic to investigate a loud, squeaky, chirping noise that occurs when I drive the vehicle. The faster I drive, the faster the chirping.

The mechanic looked at it and said I have a U - Joint that needs to be replaced. He also said that he could not just replace the u - joint, but that he would have to replace the entire drive shaft assembly, which might set me back $2000.

I am looking to get rid of this vehicle as I need something more practical for my needs. Here are my questions.

A) Is it in any way possible to replace a busted U - Joint without having to do the whole drive shaft?

B) If I elect to NOT deal with the u - joint, will I be able to get anything in trade value for the vehicle?

Look for a drive shaft repair facility. There is one in my city that specializes is repairing, rebuilding, balancing, and customizing drive shafts. Run it by them and see what they can do.

On further research, I found the U-joint replacement procedure on Alldata. If you have an OEM drive shaft the U-joint cups are held in by injected plastic. The replacement U-joints use retainer clips to keep the cups in place. You might check with a auto/truck parts store and find out if they have the replacement U-joints and if they could recommend a machine shop that could replace them.

If you do find that the drive shaft is not rebuildable, please post back – I’m curious as to why.

Yes indeed, why does the mechanic say that the drive shaft is shot, when what you describe is a dry u-joint? Usually when a u-joint fails, there is considerable vibration that can be felt in the shift lever and that varies with speed of the vehicle. There is also often a slight clunking sound when you go from stopped to first gear. Replacing a u-joint is less than an hours work, in most cases. If the shaft is marked before dissasembly and put back the same as it came apart, there should be no need to re-ballance it. But it is not a problem that should be let go either, because the worse case is the forward u-joint fails, the drive shaft falls to the pavement, catches, buckles up and you have a major disaster on your hands. 2grand for a u-joint is out of the question.

OK, I’ve been doing some additional investigation - it’s not encouraging.

A guy who specializes in drive shaft and axle repairs on Cape Cod told me that the driveshaft in GMC vehicles like mine is poorly designed - it apparently has five u-joints in it, and is almost impossible to rebuild. He said that he has tried to replace failed u-joints in similar drive shafts before, and he has NEVER been able to get them to ballance.

So, it looks like either a new drive shaft, and out of ballance drive shaft, or nothing. Very frustrating problem from a $$$ standpoint, but I guess that’s just the way cars are sometimes…

I have never heard of such a thing. Extended cab Sonomas have a two piece driveshaft with three u-joints and a carrier bearing. Regular cabs have a one piece driveshaft with two u-joints. Some of them are aluminum, which makes some people working on them nervous. The factory ones are held in with injected plastic, which is easily burned out with a torch. Once the plastic is burnt out, they can be pressed out with any standard press or a c-clamp type ball joint press. Leave this up to a shop as it is not a good DIY project. I have replaced many of these u-joints before and never had a problem with vibration, damage to the driveshaft, or anything else.

funny this!

did you call the guy in sandwich? cape cod axle & driveshaft

That’s who I talked to. Cape cod axle and driveshaft. He wasn’t optimistic.

Bummer on replacing the U-joint. Did you explore the possibility of having the drive shaft firm build you a custom, better designed drive shaft? Check with a speciality truck shop on what they do when they raise or otherwise modify pickup trucks. Price may be a problem with this route. Have you looked into getting a drive shaft from the recycle yard?

Let us know how you finally solve this problem.

I have considered that option. The frustrating thing is that I live on an island so getting the part from a recycle yard just isn’t that easy. I’d still need to get it over here some how, and get it installed.

At this point, I am attempting to sell it as - is at a very reduced price. If that doesn’t work, I may eat the cost of replacing it and get try to sell it that way. OR, I may just donate it to my npr station…

it is possidle to replace the u joint by its self and yes the u joint might bring downt the value but you can still get something out of it