Half Shaft Inspection
by Rod Kunishige

We all speak of engines, transmissions, tires and wheels. But little is said of the funny universal things that actually twist the wheels in our selected direction and force.

They are so tiny that they are considered only half of a real shaft, thus, its name. Those of us who have caused their little ones to grow have nick named them "Spicers"; because these are also the name used to power those big Ford pickups' drive shafts.

The little guys feel neglected and certainly don't want to cause any trouble. Instead they dutifully go about their job without complaint. While other parts scream loudly when they are abused or tired, our troopers soldier on silently until the end. It's also true that what little noise they may make is not likely to be heard over the roar of the engine or squeal of the tires.

It is easy to inspect each universal once a year as we prepare for Summer. The caps are held in place by spring clips. As the universal tires, they tend to spin against the clip marring its outer edge with about an 1/8" width shinny polish circle. It starts slowly and works its way completely around.

If you see the start of this wear on the universal end caps, it is time to replace the half shafts. Blown half shafts have destroyed transaxles in their fury of revenge. So they may be non-complainers but watch out for trouble signs.

Rod — Mar. 10th, 2004