A universal joint is commonly referred to as a u-joint. A u-joint is shaped like a cross, and there are four equal length posts,evenly spaced,to form a "t" shape. The purpose of a u-joint is to allow the suspension to move up and down with any bumps, while keeping the driveshaft connected to the transmission, and axle. Without the use of a u-joint, a bump in the road could cause the driveshaft to fall out of the axle.
At the end of each post, a cap is placed on each end, which contains needle bearings inside it. The bearings allow the caps to move around the post, and prevent breakage. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know if a u-joint is beginning to fail by looking at it from the outside, it must be removed and inspected. If a u-joint suffers failure, the driveshaft can separate from the axle or transmission, possibly causing damage to the vehicle's passengers, or surrounding vehicles.
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