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Last Updated 7/1/09
Propshaft Maintenance on a Series Land Rover
The propshafts on a Series Land Rover are vital for the vehicle's motion, so that if they fail, then usually a serious inconvenience results.
The rear propshaft is under load all the time that the Land Rover is in motion, so it is often the rear one which fails most frequently. It is the universal joint (UJ) at each end of the propshaft which takes the strain, and whilst these can be replaced without too much difficulty, it is best policy to prolong their life by keeping them well greased (a good UJ will have a grease nipple incorporated into it).
The first indication of a failing UJ is a rumbling sound coming from either the front or rear of the vehicle, which is heard most when the engine is on overrun, clutch disengaged and foot off the gas.
Each propshaft also incorporates a sliding splined joint and likewise these are subject to stress when the Land Rover is in motion. These sliding joints should also have grease nipples (see photos above) and they should be greased regularly. The more the vehicle is loaded and the steeper the hills then the more stress is imposed on the propshaft splines and UJ's.
It is worth noting that the front propshaft will rotate whilst the vehicle is in motion but is not under stress unless 4WD is engaged. If you have freewheeling hubs fitted, then disengaing the hubs will also stop the front propshaft from rotating.
If your rear propshaft fails and the terrain does not require use of 4WD then you can still make it home by removing the rear propshaft, selecting 4WD(high ratio) thus using the front propshaft to propel the vehicle. By removing the rear propshaft you do not run the risk of permanently damaging the UJ mounting eyelets as by doing so means that a complete propshaft replacement would be necessary.
Both front and rear propshafts are manufactured as a balanced unit. So if it is necessary for any reason to separate the splined joint, then it is important to mark the two halves of the shaft so that the same splines are in contact on reassembly. Failure to do this will cause an imbalance on rotation and lead to vibration, noise and earlier failing of the UJ's.