If your car has rear-wheel drive, it will have one or two universal joints (U-joints) as part of the driveshaft that help to give your vehicle a little extra power and control when driving on bad roads. If a U-joint fails, it will greatly impact your ability to drive and control your vehicle even during ideal conditions.
To ensure that this does not happen, be on the lookout for a couple of noises that may indicate that your car's U-joint is failing.
1. You Hear a Clunking Sound When You Shift Your Car Into Reverse
One sound that you may hear when your car has a bad U-joint is a clunking noise. This noise is most often heard when you take your car out of drive and put it into reverse. You may also hear a slight ringing sound right as the clunking fades.
If you are hearing these noises when you put your car into reverse, the ends of the U-joint may be worn or damaged, making their connection to the driveshaft loose. When you shift from forward to backward, the extra power needed will push the joint against the driveshaft, creating the clunking sound, while the ringing is made from the two pieces of metal colliding.
2. You Notice a Squeaking Noise When Your Car Is in Motion
Another concerning sound that should alert you to a problem with a U-joint under your car is a squeaking noise that is present when your car starts to go into motion. This noise will be heard while you are going forward or backward.
If you hear the squeaking, there is a good chance that the U-joint is no longer lubricated enough to cushion it as it rubs against the driveshaft. By the time you hear the sound, there is most likely already wear on both the joint and area of the driveshaft where it connects. At the very least, lubricant will need to be added. If there is extensive wear, the U-joint may need to be replaced.
If you notice either one or both of the noises above, your car most likely has a bad U-joint that should be taken care of before it has a chance to fail completely. Take your vehicle to an auto repair shop near you as soon as possible to have them look at both the U-joints and driveshaft so that they can either fix or replace any problem areas that they may find.