June 27

2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement

Dodge Trucks, Podcast


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. We're here with Mr Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're doing the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: 2001 Dodge Ram 3500, this is an oldie but goodie. Had a front axle joint problem. What was going on with this Dodge pickup?

Bernie: So the owner brought it into us. There was some clunking noises coming from the front of the vehicle. That was his primary concern with the vehicle. Other than that, everything was running really well.

Mark: So what diagnosis and testing did you do to find the problem?

Bernie: So our first step, of course, is a road test to verify the owner's concern, and we could definitely hear some noises coming from the front end. So the next part of the diagnosis is to do a visual inspection, and we hoisted the vehicle, had a look, and found the front left axle U-joint was worn out.

Mark: So what's involved in doing this repair?

Bernie: Basically we have to take the wheel off, the brake rotor comes off, the hub comes out, the hub assembly comes out, which is a fair bit of work, and then the axle shaft could be slid out from there. I could put some pictures up or if we want to have a look. 

2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement
2001 Dodge Ram 3500 Front Axle U-Joint Replacement

So there's are a nice condition, 2001 Dodge. It's an 18 year old truck at this point, but it almost looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor, at least from this, from this angle here.

The a U-joint, so this is the front axle shaft. Oh by the way, I'll just go back. So yeah. So the axle U joint is in behind this wheel, and it's a four wheel drive, so it goes from the a front differential out to the wheel and allows for flexible coupling out to the wheel. Common on any American four wheel drive pickup truck. They all use this design of a universal joint on the end.

So there's our old axle. You can see a lot of rust in this area, which is a dead giveaway, even when the joints aren't worn as bad as this one. Often when we doing an inspection, we can see a bit a rust seeping out of one of these four corners of U-joint and that's a sure fire sign that the joint is worn.

Going a little further, this is the old joint taken apart. You can see that one half of it is completely rusted out. Inside the cup, there are needle bearings in here. This section here still has some grease in it, and the bearings were in decent shape.

Comparative, that is what the new one looks like. There's quite a quite a profound difference. There's little needle bearings in the joint, and, of course, no rust. And another sort of overall view of the U-joint with the grease nipple. Some of these actually come pre, you fill them pre-greased, and they have a higher strength seal in them, so you don't to lubricate them and some are lubricatable, and it's probably better to have the ones that you lube, because they face a pretty severe environment sometimes with moisture and water. It's down low on the vehicle. It's constantly exposed to rain, and if you actually happen to drive through puddles or streams or something, it's a very exposed component. So greasing them on a regular basis is a good idea, if it is greasable.

Mark: So is this like brakes, where if you do one side to get balanced, you have to do the other side?

Bernie: No, not at all. And this is the type of repair where it really, there's no economic sense to do both at the same time. We can inspect them very well visually. We can see them, and determine whether the joint in fact is this is good or not. And in the case of this vehicle, the one on the right hand side was in fine shape, so we just left it for the time being. You never know when it's going to wear out. It might be a few months down the road, it might be a couple of years, but it doesn't cost anymore to do... there's no cost savings in doing both at the same time, and there's no performance difference in doing it.

Mark: So this truck's, like you said, 18 years old. Is it still worth repairing?

Bernie: Oh yeah. Well, you saw the initial photo of the truck. It's in very good shape, and it's a dually. A dually truck, to me, is kind of a specific use vehicle. It's more like a tool or piece of equipment. There are some people who drive them around all day long, but it's kind of ridiculous. It's just that massive vehicle and the size of it. The thing that's great about a dually is if you're hauling a large trailer, you've got a big camper, it's a very useful vehicle, and being a diesel, and it's a Cummins diesel, they're very reliable. So this is a truck, if you keep it in good shape, it'll still be good 10 years down the road from now, and still worth putting money into. The initial investment to buy one is high, and keeping it in good shape, good state of repair, it's worth it.

Mark: So there you go. If you need some service on your Dodge Ram in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're busy. Remember, there are 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and we really appreciate you watching and listening. And thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. And thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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