Driveshafts, just like any other wrangler, component are bound to wear out and needs to be changed when damaged. You can also decide to upgrade the driveshafts. In this case, we’ll focus on how to remove rear driveshaft on jeep wrangler which is responsible for driving the rear wheels.
Driveshafts in a car are responsible for transferring the torque from the gearbox to the wheels. A jeep wrangler has a front and rear driveshaft which are connected via a universal joint (U-joint).
What causes damage to the rear driveshaft?
Driveshafts are made to last for a long time without needing any special services. They are made of strong metals thus are durable but when subjected to a lot of stress they will eventually wear out. Driveshafts only need replacement mostly after you’ve got into a serious accident that destroyed the driveshafts.
On four-wheel or all-wheel drive wranglers there are two driveshafts as compared to front-wheel drive wranglers which only have a front driveshaft.
The two drive shafts are connected by a U-joint. When the rear driveshaft is damaged, it is either due to physical damage or the U-joint is not in good working condition.
Physical damage to the rear driveshaft is caused by the road surface coming into constant contact with the rear driveshaft. This will eventually lead to the weakening of the driveshaft and it will bend and even break on one or both ends.
One end of the rear driveshaft is on the rear wheel axle while the other end is on the U-joint. If any of the ends break the driveshaft is deemed useless.
The stock rear driveshaft of a jeep wrangler is has a thinner diameter and is not made of strong materials as compared to most aftermarket rear driveshafts thus it breaks easily under stress.
The bushings on the driveshaft may also get worn out and these should be replaced immediately as they can cause damage to the rear driveshaft and also the U-joint.
Rust on the rotational joints on the rear driveshaft cause weaknesses which will eventually lead to the rear driveshaft breaking thus will get separated from the U-joint and the rear axle will not receive any torque from the transmission.
Also, you should remove the rust immediately you spot it and protect the rear driveshaft from rust using rust protection that is applicable. As for the joints, greasing them using a greasing gun is the best method to prevent them from rusting.
Signs that indicate your Driveshaft is in bad condition
- Vibrations from underneath your wrangler.
- Shuddering when accelerating.
- Squeaking noises.
- Loss of traction especially if the rear-wheel-drive is the primary mode of driving on your wrangler.
- U-joint rotational issues.
- Clunking sounds especially when driving in reverse.
- Visible play when you check underneath your wrangler.
Other factors that influence changing the rear driveshaft and at times the entire driveshaft especially if your wrangler is all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive with a four-wheel-drive option. Such factors include the following.
Making modifications to increase power
The stock driveshafts are made to handle the stock power output from the stock engine and transmission so when you upgrade these by undertaking any modifications that will in any way increase the power, the driveshafts will wear out quicker as that power will stress them out. You need to get better and stronger driveshafts that can withstand that power output.
- Compatible with the Jeep Wrangler JK 4 Door model.
- It can accommodate Tires up to 42 Inches Tall.
- It also comes with rear driveshaft.
- Includes U-Bolts, CV Bolts, T-Case Yoke, and a Pinion Yoke.
- Little difficult installation process.
adding a lift kit or bigger tires to your wrangler
This is only necessary when adding lift kits of above 2.5 inches or more. A rear driveshaft will need to be upgraded as the stock driveshaft is short and cannot reach the rear axle due to the added distance from the U-joint to the rear axle.
When you try any modification to force the rear driveshaft to reach the rear axle it will last only for a short while before it breaks and can even damage the U-joint and you will end up with even more expensive repairs. Adding a lift kit also increases the operating angle of the stock driveshafts which should not be more than 15 degrees.
Any increment will intensify the stress on the driveshafts and they will eventually snap. Upgrading to a slightly longer rear driveshaft will fix this. You will also need to upgrade the front driveshaft for the same reasons.
Most wranglers are rear-wheel drive with a four-wheel-drive functionality that is mostly used when off-roading. This means that the rear driveshaft is mostly in use as compared to the front driveshaft as most drivers don’t engage four-wheel-drive when driving on paved roads.
Because of this, the rear driveshaft wears out quickly as compared to the front driveshaft and is more likely to get replaced. For all-wheel-drive wranglers, both driveshafts are operational full time but the front driveshaft wears out quicker than the rear driveshaft due to the extra torque exerted on it while turning.
Can you drive without rear driveshaft in jeep wrangler?
No, in jeep wranglers, you can’t. Even in all-wheel-drive wranglers, power distribution to both axles is not equal so removing the rear driveshaft is not even an option you should consider.
What to consider when getting a replacement rear driveshaft?
- Power output
If you have done any extra modifications that increase the power output of your wrangle, you need to ger a driveshaft that can handle that power to prevent any damages to the driveshafts.
- Distance and angle from the U-joint to the rear axle
When you add a lift kit or add bigger tires on your wrangler, the distance and angle from the U-joint to the rear axle changes.
The stock rear driveshaft cannot work at angles more than 15 degrees and for lift kits above 2.5 inches. You need to get a driveshaft that is compatible with the distance and angle change for it to work
- Thickness and material
Aftermarket driveshafts are made of stronger material as compared to stock driveshafts. Driveshafts with wider diameters are stronger and more durable than driveshafts with narrower diameters.
- Wrangler model and year of manufacture
Manufacturers make different drivers make driveshafts for different vehicles with different models and years of manufacture. Make sure to get a driveshaft that is compatible with your wrangler so as not to have fitment issues.
How to remove and replace the rear driveshaft?
It is recommended that you do this in a fully equipped garage.
- Drive your wrangler to a car lift jack, turn it off, engage the emergency brake then put it in neutral. The purpose of leaving your wrangler in neutral gear is to enable the turning of the driveshaft to remove the nuts that secure it on the U-joint and the rear axle. Ensure that the car lift jack you are working with can hold the wrangler’s weight.
- Lift your wrangler to a car jack up to the desired height that you feel comfortable working with. You can adjust it to be a little higher than your actual height to create space for lifting your hands while working.
- Remove the bolts that secure the driveshaft on the rear differentials. These are hard to remove and to avoid stripping them, use quality tools if you are going to re-use them again. You can also spray WD-40 on the bolts to ease them out. To easily remove the bolts, rotate the differential to put the nuts into a position you feel comfortable working with
- Removing the driveshaft from the U-joint. Strike the U-joint with plastic or hard rubber hammer gently to shock the driveshaft. Remove the bolts that secure the driveshaft to the U-joint.
- At this point, the part of the driveshaft that was on the rear axle will be loose so hold on to it. If you still need the U-joint cups you can wrap them with electrical tape to prevent them from falling.
- Using both hands remove the driveshaft from the transfer case. Fluid may leak out so be ready for it or ask someone to hold a container for you to prevent that liquid from pouring on you.
- Check for any damages on both the rear axle and the connecting point between the front and rear axle. If there is non you are clear to install the new driveshaft.
- Prep the new driveshaft. We recommend to go with Adams Driveshaft. Most new driveshafts come greased in the necessary areas. But the yoke is not greased so you need to grease it.
- Position the new driveshaft and ensure everything aligns then you can start securing the driveshaft on the rear axle by tightening the bolts that came with it.
- You can tighten one bolt first then align the driveshaft to the U-joint contact point to make the work easier. Tighten one bolt on the U-joint so that you can work with both hands without having to hold on to the driveshaft.
- Tighten the remaining bolts into place and then rotate the driveshaft to ensure that there is no play in it.
You can always test drive your wrangler and listen for any noise and vibrations and if there is none then you are good to go, if any, you can always contact your local mechanic for help.
The rear driveshaft is the primary driving driveshaft in a jeep wrangler and therefore wears out quicker and requires regular maintenance and check to keep it in good working condition.
You can consider upgrading to an aftermarket rear driveshaft as most of these are stronger and more durable than stock ones. Waiting for the rear driveshaft to get completely damaged so that you replace it will cause more damage to your wrangler and may lead to an accident if it snaps on when driving especially at high speeds.