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What ate my front u joints? Dana 44

Discussion in 'Differential & Driveline' started by AuroraGirl, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. AuroraGirl

    AuroraGirl Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    So, when I replaced my axle shaft last fall for snow plowing, i confirmed it had no play and was greased, as I did the same to my driver side u joint. I did about 8-10 hours of plowing all combined last winter, and right now my u joints are barely holding on. Most of my snow plowing was done in low speed, if that matters.

    To me, this just seems... insane that the u joints are so worn out and almost on deaths bed already, Id hate to pull the shafts and put new U joints in just to do the same thing next summer, if this is caused by something else. Is there anything I should look at for what is causing it? Or, perhaps, should I look for beefier drive shafts?

    I found a set on 4wheelparts.com that have good reviews and people say the yokes are beefier and the u joint is beefier, but is that a bandaid on another issue kind of thing?

    I know turning in 4wd and the fact I have a large, heavy bumper and a heavy iron plow im sure put a lot of stress on the front axle, but to me, one season of mild snowplowing seems insane quick to eat u joints.
     
  2. bucket

    bucket Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Were they the cheapest U-joints that the parts store had to offer? If so, I'll blame poor quality.
     
  3. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Automobile Hoarder

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    This is you:



    What grease did/do you use?
     
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  4. AuroraGirl

    AuroraGirl Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Unknown, age of either u joints are questionable to be 10+ years at newest, and most likely NAPA brand. My grandpa shopped a lot at NAPA. I have a whole shelf of u joints and bearings that are NAPA. A few Moog, a few carquest, but mostly NAPA. Uh, do you by chance have a few part numbers I can check my shelf for, or a good number I can cross reference? or is there a way to identify when I remove them?

    If you think its Ujoint quality, im inclined to believe your experience on such matters. So I could see if I have new ones on the shelf that are old, and that would tell me they were likely that. But, I can only say that for certain on the driver side, because the passenger side was donated gracefully by the frame sitting behind my shed, which was my grandpas brothers truck that he sold to him which he took parts off it(as did I, such as my hood and passenger drive shaft hehe). Those u joints would be of unknown mileage, origin, and quality. but it had no play and I greased before the season, but that doesnt mean it wasnt cheap either.
     
  5. AuroraGirl

    AuroraGirl Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Automobile Hoarder

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    I looked at the data sheet, and this seems like a good lithium-based grease (what you want on suspension stuff and u-joints). It should do the job well. I’ve been using the brown lithium grease, but this looks like a winner, too. Unless you were running at -11*F or colder, or it’s not compatible with a different grease that was in there before, and it didn’t get completely purged when you lubed, I don’t think I’d be inclined to blame the grease.
     
  7. AuroraGirl

    AuroraGirl Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Wait... -11 or colder... uh.. is my grease not good below that? A good chunk of my snow plowing was sub zero.

    Whoops, maybe that did it?

    What kind of grease should I use sub zero
     
  8. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Automobile Hoarder

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    I’ll attach the data sheet I read for the Mystik. The low temperature range is actually exceptional for that one. The brown lithium grease I use says zero degrees on the bottom end, and the store brand moly-based grease says the same. Phillips 66 makes a low temp moly grease for polar proximal trucks and equipment running consistently between -30* to 32*F ambient temp if you’d feel better using that.

    So you were working at eleven below or less? My condolences. It’s hard for me to think the grease just totally lost lubricity when it got real cold; that -10* threshold is approximate according to the paper, and I wouldn’t discount the comment on quality nor would I exclude part age/wear either. I also don’t pretend to be a grease expert. If I was you, I’d also read up on using moly versus lithium as your chassis lubrication agent and see how you feel. Phillips 66 is saying their moly is GTG on suspension and driveline, but DANA/Spicer recommends lithium for their u-joints. It doesn’t look like there’s a lithium product better than what you’re using, though, at least not one that I see.

    http://www.docs.citgo.com/msds_pi/591094.pdf

    https://phillips66lubricants.com/product/moly-low-temp/
     
  9. Ricko1966

    Ricko1966 Full Access Member

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    Are the joints 10+ years + 8-10 hrs old? If so I'd say they've lived a long life replace them with new, and repeat in 10 yrs 9 hrs.
     
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  10. AuroraGirl

    AuroraGirl Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Well being old but almost never used shouldnt make much of a difference I wouldnt think
     
  11. Ricko1966

    Ricko1966 Full Access Member

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    IDK how much they were used,what quality they were, how they were maintained, if condensation got in them and rusted all the rollers etc.etc. At 10 yrs 8+ hrs my first reaction is they were old.
     
  12. AuroraGirl

    AuroraGirl Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Good replacement brand recommendations? I guess its time to learn how to replace u joints! Yay learning
     
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  13. Grit dog

    Grit dog Full Access Member

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    There’s no explanation. You have unknown age parts on a 40+ year old truck.
    you replaced an axle shaft with what? A whole used shaft including an old u joint? What was “wrong” with the other shaft?
    Put some new u joints in it and call it a day. They wear out. Not much more to it.
    Spicer is the best off the shelf quality.
     
  14. Grit dog

    Grit dog Full Access Member

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    Good succinct response!
     
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  15. Memaloose

    Memaloose Member

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    Amen to the short advice.
    Old U joints fail, hardly anyone greases them.
    I checked all the original U joints for tightness on a K20 I bought, greased them, hit the road and had one fail. I replaced them ALL at the same time soon after, better to be safe than sorry.
    A heads up on snow plowing, grease before use and grease after use. Snow, water, moisture can get in a crack, freeze then damage a U joint, grease is cheep!
     
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