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Vehicles are equipped with suspension systems to allow movement vertically when going over bumps to enhance comfort. When that vertical motion occurs, it is impossible to have a part running horizontally stay in the same position, otherwise it will bind. That is the purpose of the universal joint in the steering shaft. The steering shaft is a rod that connects the upper steering column to the steering gear or rack and pinion, and needs to be able to flex and rotate at the same time. The universal joint allows that motion to occur. The u-joint utilizes pin bearings in cups at four mounting points on the joint for smooth operation. When those bearings begin to wear, or if the joint lacks lubrication, it may begin to wear out and clunk, or bind.
The steering shaft u joint does not require maintenance or lubrication, and can often last the lifetime of the vehicle. It can be dangerous to operate your vehicle with a bad steering shaft u joint. If you suspect a problem with the steering shaft u joint or experience related symptoms, have one of our expert mechanics inspect and replace the steering shaft.
Your steering system is vital to controlled operation on the roadways. If the steering shaft u joint is binding, you may not be able to accurately control the steering wheel when turning or when turning the steering wheel back to the center position. If the shaft is clunking, it is an early indication of an impending serious problem. Have a faulty steering shaft replaced immediately.