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U joints

professor229

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Good morning.... I still have some noise coming from the back end and am pretty sure that it is the U joints.... and with 106,000 miles on it, the time has come... I have NOT replaced U joints in anything for over 30 years... probably closer to 40 years ago.... so I need a refresher and advice....

I know that the drive shaft was marked to keep the balance integrity the same.... with a scratch or paint; whatever... I know that a good six point socket/wrench needed to be used so you didn't round off the four bolts.... and I know we used two sockets, one larger for the u joint to sit on when you pound on a smaller socket on the "other side" ..... after removing the retainer clips.....

Then the replacement was much the same using the two sockets to tap in the new u joints and making sure the retaining clips were seated and secure...

Now for some questions.... Are both the front and rear U joints the same on a Ranger? Do I need to replace both? Is there a brand name better than others? Is there a brand name to avoid?

Should I try to replace the front seal on the tranny housing and can this seal be carefully tapped in to place? Is there a back seal that needs to be replaced? What else am I missing?

Thanks for holding my hand.... LOL... it is much appreciated....
 


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12 point bolts, 12mm
 

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Something else to consider is buying or renting a ball joint press. It makes short work of the u joint replacement task.
 

professor229

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I saw the picture of the ball joint press..... and most videos show the DIY guys using a large vise and two sockets like we did back in the 60s...... My problem is that I don't have access to a large vise and I don't think my vise has a large enough opening to even consider this.... and, I hesitate "pounding" on the socket to unseat the u joint.... although that is the way the chief mechanic where I worked did it all the time.... but I ran into other problems with this too.... I found so much contradictory information about ordering these..... and I am probably overthinking this again... but when I research to be sure, I found that at least two companies have clearance u joints because they are out of business and selling them off..... and here is a link as well as a picture of what I found.... https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/ford,2004,ranger,3.0l+v6,1427958,drivetrain,universal+joint,2392

I like to go to rock auto to get a parts number and then google it.... but as I said, I get some conflicting information.... and please consider... This is a $500 ranger and I don't want/need high quality parts for it..... and yes, there is a budget.... I understand you get what you pay for... I tried to find PDQ which is the cheapest listing.... so I could find their application chart to confirm these are the correct u joints and almost ordered two.... but... then, later, I found a few sites that listed two different numbers for the front and back u joints..... confusing.... The GMB listing a little below also is more/less a clearance deal because I cannot find an application chart online, for them either and will spend some more time today looking.... and yes, I blame SOME of the parts sites online for being so vague in their information.... and in rock autos case, you cannot even contact them to ask.... so I am hesitant to order two of those "el cheapos" from them.....

So... if you have been there/done that... maybe you can help.....

Are the u joints in the front and back of the driveshaft the same size? (this is a standard 2004 Ranger XL with a seven foot box)

PS.... One other thing I am considering..... There is a U Pull it Parts outfit near.... and if the price is right, why couldn't I go and pull a drive shaft from one of their junkers and slap it in mine? And there is one other question.... I have the seven foot box on mine.... and most were six foot boxes.... will a drive shaft for a six footer even fit my seven footer? Does that question make sense?

and just one more thing.... isn't there always? I bought a chipped key blank on Ebay.... my local hardware store cut it for $3.... it opens my door locks perfectly... I followed the online instructions I found to program the key... basically, insert an original key, turn on and off the ignition... repeat within five seconds with my second original key.... and within ten seconds, insert the newly cut duplicate.... the red security light should stay red for three seconds to tell you it is programmed..... Simply... it didn't work and yes, insanity because I tried a few more times... there is another website that tells you to insert an original and turn on and off the ignition many times and then insert the key..... are they for real??? Anybody have any experience with this or is it just hokey?

Thanks.... appreciate all the comments.....
 

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sgtsandman

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The u-joints on the rear drive shaft are the same. If you have 4X4, the front drive shaft uses different u-joints.

The last time I did u-joints, what the parts store had listed wasn’t correct. I had to bring the old ones in to make sure I got the right ones. If you only have one vehicle, that might be a bit difficult unless you can borrow someone else’s.
 

professor229

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Hey!!! thanks.... I went back to Rock Auto to look/think about some of their listings and think I have this figured out.... Please check out the attached shot of the Rock Auto listing... The top/first entry is for 4WD (and I don't have 4WD)....... and check out the part number..... Then the second, third, and fourth listings all say for "rear" or "all joints" and have nothing to do with 4WD...... Do I have this right? Thanks again for the explanation... I might just try this myself....
 

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Eddo Rogue

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I swapped to a one piece driveshaft. Ordered U joints from rock auto. I got the good ones. Works perfect, no problems there.
I used a large c clamp to press em in.
 

professor229

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That is exactly what I intend to do as well.... My Dad's head mechanic had a way with U joints.... it was called a couple of sockets and a hammer....... I also have a very large C clamp..... and my only fear is getting too aggressive.. and breaking the drive shaft..... Anything else I should watch out for?
 

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7' box driveshaft is 6" longer than one for 6' box; and the one for a SC is 8" longer than 7' one, so no mixing there.

I use a 12 ton press with sockets and never busted a driveshaft (may be bent a little, but the press fixed that too). I tried large C clamp and just bent the clamp (ball joint presses are significantly stronger than my C clamp).

Keys need to be programmed with Forscan or equivalent (some hardware stores have ability to clone keys). My solution is to remove the bottom cover of the steering column, put the coded key there. Reassemble. Then use normal uncoded key in door/ignition. The coded key is close enough to the sensor, that it works.
 

professor229

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Hey.... thanks for the great information!!! So here is what I did and am going to do... Fed Ex just emailed that my U joints will be here on Wednesday from Rock Auto.... and I suspected that this driveshaft was unique because of the 7 foot bed length... and have dealt with this before. There was significant damage to the passenger side of the box when I bought this as a project, and my plan was to remove the side panel of the box and replace the entire side of the box...... Then I found out how rare a seven foot box was and the replacement panels/facade are no longer made, and the only hope was to find one in dealer stock..... which is impossible.... I instead got out all my dent pulling tools including the one that worked the best... my toilet plunger... and went to work... I learned and researched a six foot box to replace the seven foot box but that was a can of worms too... so I suspected that this drive shaft may be longer.... and now I know it is..... and I DON'T want to screw it up and try to find a replacement driveshaft.... it's call paranoia.... controlled paranoia... and considered going to U Pull It Parts to get a used driveshaft but there are no seven foot box Rangers..... so when the u joints come in, I am going to fall at the mercy of my local mechanic who has been more than good... and pay him to do this... This is one of the last major projects to be completed on this $500 project truck and I don't want to screw it up now. I have well over 200 hours of time in the rebuild.... I no longer own the tools I had from my youth in the 60s...... and it is time to punt on the idea of doing this myself....

As for the key... I tried one more time and made some progress.... and this is not a big deal... I have two working keys for the Ranger but on my other trucks that pull boat trailers, I hide a working key in a magnetic box under the rail of the box just in case... I also keep a working key in my tackle box, again, just in case.... there's that paranoia thing again. Backed the Ranger into the work stall last night and cleaned up the box completely and prepped it for a coat of Rustoleum epoxy coating that will be applied this morning and for laughs, I tried to program my new key again... and yes, I heard back from the website guy who listed how to do this.... and he more less bailed out, giving me three possible scenarios why the process failed.... ... but I did the insert two keys in succession and then the new key and this time, the new key turned the starter motor, but the ignition must apparently still be disabled because it did not start... I repeated this process again and left the two initial original keys on "run" for four seconds each instead of the one second advised... and that was the difference... so the sensor for this is under the steering column? Would it help to maybe put the newly cut key down there while inserting the two originals?

I also got a request from the blank key Ebay seller for feedback and have no idea what to leave for feedback but did contact him and told him that of the three choices, it would not be positive.... at best neutral, and at worst, negative.... He has a disclaimer near the end of his listing saying you may need the Ford dealership to program it OR a locksmith..... and that isn't going to happen.

So this morning, I will apply the box coating.... and later this week I will be contacting my mechanic and making sure he can/will install the U joints....

I have used the Ranger to pull my small 12 foot boat trailer to the lake (five miles) and back several times now... the "chirp" is almost gone but I can still hear a whizzing sound and a heavy chirp when I pull the loaded boat trailer up the ramp when I am done fishing.... but once in the parking lot, the chirp reverts again to the "whiz" sound..... and I sure like the Ranger..... compared to my 1995 Chevy W/T...... The trip to the lake is low speed back streets more/less so I am never going much over 30 mph.... but I do want this resolved....

Again... thanks for the advice, information and suggestions.... it sure shortens up the research part of all this....
 

Eddo Rogue

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Getting a driveshaft made is not a big deal nor astronomical. Driveline shops are few and far between, but do exist. They can whip you up one for probably $500-$1000 fully assembled and balanced.

The accident may have tweaked the frame and/ or driveshaft. I'd check that out. There are shops with frame straightening machines too.
 

professor229

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It is very possible that the frame was bent but I was told that the truck slid into the ditch, went on the passenger side and it was simply pushed upright.... lots of damage to the passenger side box and front fender... no damage to the door... But this is not a big deal.... so will get the U Joints installed and see how it goes.... This morning... welded in a new ratchet strap bracket in the box.... two bolts held it in place... both broke off.... easy out is a pain so went with welding it back in place... and the set up for the Rustoelum pro roll on "stuff".... not too bad but would rather spray the box... two coats... video comments I watched said they struggled to get two coats on and didn't have enough... not a problem with a Ranger and had some left over so I rolled some on the boat trailer fenders..... came out great... Took about two hours to get this done.... and now will leave it in the garage for a couple days to cure...

The green in the pictures it the "patch".... marine glue around the perimeter and self drilling screws to hold it in place while the glue cured... ground off the heads of the screws the next day.... and wire brush on a drill to clean up the glue that squeezed out.... The patch worked well... and if I didn't tell you, you would not notice it in the box....

Before/after pictures.... and will probably have to buy a rattle spray can of the stuff to touch up some spots where the roller missed.....

It was a good morning....
 

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Eddo Rogue

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Honestly I though it was much worse based on your description lol. Looks good, nice work. I say yea try the u joints and if that don't work, then may take it in to see if its bent or out of balance. If so, then get it repaired or a new one....I've dealt with driveshafts alot🙄.
 

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