How Long Can You Drive With a Bad U Joint?

How Long Can You Drive With a Bad U Joint?

Well, most of you would have heard the term called universal joint or u-joint in short. U joint is the main component of the driveshaft present inside the car. It is used to transfer all the power from the engine to the car’s tires.

That is why the shaft or axle rotates with the engine’s power to make the vehicle move forward. This can make the car shake, tip off the road, or rotate upside down. So you can guess how much dangerous it would be if your u joint got broken or damaged. 

How long can you drive with a bad u joint? Typically, a damaged U-joint will cause the car to break down after several hundred miles. The problem may arise when you have a bad U-joint and transmission fluid is leaking.

Driving with a bad shaft is a risky job, and you can hurt yourself and the person sitting inside the car severely. U joints can get stuck in different conditions like a water leak, too much load, and too heavy. It can damage u joint shaft and gears on the shaft.

So if you find that you have bad U joints, immediately get it fixed or replaced by the nearby garage. It is not advised to drive with a bad or broken U joint for too long a distance.

Table of Contents

What is a universal joint?

A universal joint is a constant velocity or cv joint that divides an input shaft’s rotational motion into two perpendicular axes.

They are typically used in pairs, with one on each end of a shaft that needs to turn at different speeds. So basically, they are used to connect two shafts to transmit the rotational power from the engine to the tires of the cars.

This type of coupling enables the connected shafts to have different angular velocities while transmitting power from one to the other. 

So you will find any universal joints that come in various shapes and sizes. They are also used in many other mechanical operations other than cars. 

How to inspect u joints properly?

How Long Can You Drive With a Bad U Joint?

U joints are an integral part of any automotive drive vehicle. They are made up of two major components, the ball joint, and the spindle. If these two start to wear down or break, it can affect not only your vehicle’s performance but also your safety. Here is how you can diagnose u joints in your car. 

  • The first step is to inspect U joints for visible signs that they may be damaged, like deep scuffs or rust around their opening where they connect with other parts on the car’s chassis. These issues might indicate that rotational forces have caused serious wear and tear on one or both of u joint’s ball pins.
  • A damaged ball joint can lose steering control and steering eccentricity, which may require you to replace your steering gearbox. In addition, a worn spindle can cause your vehicle to hesitate or not go in reverse while pressing the gas pedal. If you notice any of these signs, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible.
  • The next step to diagnose your U joints is to use a pry bar. Using the end of the pry bar, check if there is a 1/2-inch gap between the center of the ball and the center of the cup. If there isn’t, it could indicate serious wear or damage to your U joint, and it needs replacing immediately.

Signs to look to identify a bad U joint?

How Long Can You Drive With a Bad U Joint?

To find out if you have one of these bad joints in your car or truck, read ahead for a list of signs that spell trouble for your vehicle.

Vibrations while driving

The sign that indicates you may have a bad universal joint is severe vibrations while driving or when cornering at low speeds. You should feel whether the vibrations are coming from inside or outside your vehicle if you know where to look for them.

Instability in steering

If a car’s steering seems jerky or less responsive, you may also have a bad universal joint. Also, a bad universal joint can limit your vehicle’s steering control.

So if you notice that you have less control in handling your vehicle while cornering at low speeds, then it could be a sign that your universal joint needs to be replaced. 

Interior noises

A final sign that indicates a bad universal joint is interior noises, commonly experienced when driving long distances at low speeds on rough roadway surfaces.

The vibration should be noticed during normal driving conditions on flat surfaces with minimal road bumps and irregularities such as potholes and cracks in the road surface.

These are the three common signs in determining the bad U joint in any vehicle. 

Also Read: What Causes a Knocking Noise When Braking?

Frequently asked questions

How often should I replace u-joints?

Generally, the company makes U joint with the warranty of the car. U joint is a part that is made to last long with the life span. It is not a mechanical part to be replaced repeatedly until it has broken into the part.

Reasons behind u-joint failure?

Several common failure reasons of U joint are corrosion, too much load on shafts, excessive jointing, etc.

How long can you drive with a bad u-joint?

It is strictly prohibited for an individual to drive with a bad U joint for too long because any extra mile and the stress upon the joint can break them into parts which are very dangerous for the drivers. 

Signs of bad universal joint?

Some common signs for a bad U joint are noises, leaking of fluids or oils, too much vibration inside the car.

A bad universal joint or widely called U joint might make your vehicle jerk, vibrate, or shake. You may also notice a clunking noise when you turn the steering wheel.

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