Have you heard any angry birds?
You probably think that I’m a little crazy right about now. But, seriously have you heard any angry birds or sometimes referred to as angry sparrows from under your jeep while driving? And with this I’m referring to a high pitched squeaking or squealing noise. This is an indication that your drive shafts require some attention. Now most of you may be thinking that I’m crazy when I tell you that it’s not all that difficult to keep your drive shafts in good working order. The first thing that you’ll have to do is crawl under your jeep and look at your front and rear drive shafts. Check for excess movement in the u joints and endure that all the mounting bolts are torqued to the correct specification.
I’m going to focus more on the front drive shaft at this time. The differential end of the drive shaft is more accessible and much easier to maintain than the transfer case side. On the differential side you can simply find the standard grease fitting and using a grease gun add new grease until you start to see it pushing the old grease and possibly water from the u joint cups.
Now the more difficult part is the transfer case side of the drive shaft.The adjacent picture shows the double cardan u joint that is found at the transfer case. It’s not normally easy to access due to the transmission skid plate and the frame rail. If you’re lucky enough to have a body lift it may help in allowing you to get your hand to the back of the yoke to loosen the bolts. Your next alternative is to remove the transmission skid plate. Be very cautious when doing this. Most jeeps use the skid plate to support the transmission and transfer case. If you’re lucky enough to have a transmission cross member to support the weight of the transfer case and transmission then you can easily remove the skid plate. If you don’t have a cross member or you’re unsure make sure that the transmission as adequately supported before removing the skid plate. Once it’s removed you’ll be able to remove the bolts so that the drive shaft can be removed from the jeep so it’s easily worked on.
Once you have the drive shaft out on the floor of your garage located the grease fittings and clean them off. You could have standard style grease fittings or you could have lower profile button style of grease fittings. The button style of fitting requires a different tip for your grease gun. These are available from your local auto parts store. Put new grease into the fittings until you start to push old grease and contaminants from the cups as you did with the differential end u joint.
Pay special attention to the grease fitting for the centering ball. This it normally where your angry sparrow will be residing. A good coating of grease will solve the squeaking issue unless parts are worn out. Rotate the joint assemble around with your hands to ensure that you’ve got a good coating of grease on the centering ball. If you have no grease fitting for the centering ball your alternative is to get a needle style tip for your grease gun so that you can inject grease around the centering ball.
Now that you have grease in all the fittings clean up any residual grease that you may have gotten around the drive shaft. The next step is to reinstall the drive shaft into your jeep and this is simply a reversal of the steps that you did to remove it. Make sure that you torque the bolts to the required amount. The last thing that you want to have is the bolts to come loose while you’re driving on the highway and have the drive shaft hit the bottom of your jeep.
You can follow the same steps to grease your rear drive shaft. Depending if you have an SYE kit or not you may or may not have a double cardan u joint in the rear of your jeep. The rear drive shaft grease fittings are much more accessible dut to them not being above any skid plate. Although you may have to lift the rear wheels off the ground in order to rotate the drive shaft slightly to gain access to the grease fittings. Also while you’re crawling around under your jeep with a grease gun it’s a good time to grease all you suspension and steering links that have grease fittings on them. With traveling off road and through wet location your jeep can easily get water into places that it shouldn’t be.
A grease gun is an inexpensive investment to keep your jeep in good running order. You can find them at most auto part or farm supply stores. Just be sure to use a good quality grease keeping in mind the conditions that we drive our jeeps through.