Weak Link
Replacing the CV joints in your Grand Cherokee Short Cuts
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By: Paul Boyd - 6/2000

Ever since I first 'wheeled my ZJ, I noticed a slight clicking sound from the front. Being a 4wd novice (and owning the ZJ for only a very short time), I thought (hoped) "Hey, this noise must be normal". Needless to say, this is NOT a normal sound. NOTE: When finding yourself wondering if something is "normal", usually it's NOT. This clicking was the sound of my driver's side CV joint, slowly, but surely, disintegrating. I squeezed another half a dozen off-road trips out of the CV joint before it finally gave up (luckily there was a YJ there with me to strap me up a muddy hill). 

Damaged CV joint.

photo by: Paul Boyd

Being an avid Internet Jeep site reader, I knew what I'd be doing as soon as I got home.....doing a search to see who else has had this problem. Since REAL Jeeps are built, NOT bought, I couldn't be satisfied with simply replacing the CV Joint. I felt that this was a weak link. After all, I have small tires (235/75R15 Wrangler AT/S) on my Jeep. Surely 32's (which is my goal) will cause more stress on the entire axle system, I had to find a way to remedy this "weak link". 

About 15 minutes after logging on to the internet, I had my answer. Seems this has, in fact, happened to a few other ZJ's out there and other Jeeper's had already found, and tried, the upgrade I was looking for...a "kit" to get rid of those CV Joints and put U-Joints in their place. 

Even though Haynes (as well as other sources) have reported that CV Joints weren't used until the '95 model year, this simply isn't the case. My '94 (as well as some other pre '95 ZJ's) did come with CV Joints installed from the factory. You can't always believe everything in the manual (another example is the torque specs for the brake caliper bolts, they are incorrect...Haynes called for 30 lb. ft. which doubles the actual spec which is 7-15 lb. ft.). South Bay Driveline, is the source for all of the parts needed for this upgrade. I spoke with Steve Johnson (General Manager) who turned out to be a very nice, knowledgeable guy! He immediately knew of the upgrade that I was talking about, and had me taken care of within minutes. He also showed a sincere interest in the Jeep sites on the 'net and even asked for the addresses of a couple of sites.

Bottom line? Cost for the axle shaft and all parts needed for the upgrade was $120/side. I didn't think that was too bad for getting rid of a weak link. Hell, my front bumper was a weak link...kept getting bashed....my rockers were weak links....kept getting bashed....my rear bumper IS a weak link...keeps getting bashed....seeing a trend? Each weak link that I've "uncovered", and taken care of, so far has cost more than $240 (gotta do both sides!!! At least that's what I told my wife). To make a good deal even sweeter, drop shipping (by truck from Tennessee) is included in the price.

Comparison of the old CV axle and the new u-joint axle.

photo by: Paul Boyd

Once the parts arrive, it's time to start getting everything together. For the most part, common hand tools are all that is needed to perform this upgrade. Following is a comprehensive list of the tools that were used:

Tools List

Page 2

Contacts: Related Links:

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