Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tom Woods Custom Driveshaft Upgrade

A lifted Jeep Wrangler Must-Do Modification

Tom Woods Driveshaft Install

Leaking Factory Driveshaft

My Jeep was in for a check up and my mechanic noticed leaking from my stock factory driveshaft. My Rubicon was lifted and 35 inch tires were added. The stock driveshaft has a hard time holding up to the stresses from bigger tires and the change in geometry from a lift. 

Leaking Factory Jeep Driveshaft

Typically the first thing that will happen from the stress is the boot will tear and grease eventually leaks. The 2015 Wrangler's (Rubicon) front driveshaft has a rzeppa joint. This joint has a boot which protects it’s guts. Mine has been flexed to it’s limits. This boot can’t hold up to the stress of the added lift on my Jeep.

Rzeppa Joint

Some might even hear a clicking noise. I caught mine before it failed. These stock driveshaft's are larger in diameter. When lifted this can cause them to possibly rest on the exhaust which causes more issues. You will see this issue with 3" or more of a lift after of 20K to 30K driving, or after off road use when the suspension stretches "droop". The Wrangler's driveshaft will come into contact with the exhaust cross pipe, requiring an exhaust  spacer or new driveshaft. 

Driveshaft Joints Double Cardan & Rzeppa

The 07 and up Wrangler JK's & JKU's drive shafts come with Rzeppa joints. They are stronger than the typical driveshaft, but the Rzeppa joint is designed to run as straight as possible. When they run at steeper angles than what the factory set them up for after extended periods of time they will prematurely wear out. 

Tom Woods Custom Driveshafts

Aftermarket Replacement

I replaced my stock front driveshaft with a Tom Wood's Custom Driveshaft. A little preventive maintenance on my part. The OEM driveshaft was still working, but eventually would have failed. 

Tom Woods Custom drive shafts use what is called a double Cardan CV joint, which has been around for decades. They can live and run happily for over 100,000 miles if you service it properly. A little tender loving care goes a long way. 

New driveshaft install

They have a smaller diameter which allows the suspension to drop on 2012 and newer 3.6 Wranglers without touching the exhaust, which could possibly damage the drive shaft. 

New driveshaft clears the exhaust

What Does the Drive Shaft Do?

Driveshaft diagram

The Wrangler’s driveshaft performs a crucial function. It moves power from your engine to the wheels and transfers torque to the differential from the transfer case. Torque is the strength of your Jeep's engine.  A driveshaft transmits that raw power to the differential. The differential spins the wheels to move your Jeep, whether along the highway or up over those rocks or even through the mud. 

The stock driveshaft is designed to match the suspension travel of the factory suspension. It's not too tough either, just enough for average driving and fairly mild off-roading. It lacks grease fittings due to cost cutting during the engineering process. 

Driveshaft install

Aftermarket Drive Shaft Maintenance

The factory shafts can't be greased. The Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shaft can, but you need to keep up with the greasing.

Greasing the Toms Wood's Custom drive shaft 👉 Watch Here

Double Cardan Joint

The Tom Wood’s front drive shaft is a double cardan joint. This allows for more movement of the joint. Regular maintenance is important to keep the Tom Wood's Drive Shaft  in excellent condition and give it a long life. The most important maintenance of this drive shaft is regular greasing. The Tom Wood's website says “We believe a frequent and thorough greasing is more important than the type of grease you use. There are also several points for re-greasing. A very important maintenance duty you must keep up with. If you are diligent in re-greasing your Tom Wood's driveshaft will last forever. 

Tom Woods Driveshaft

One of the main results of the greasing is a proper "flushing out" of any contaminates. A little grease and dirt make an excellent grinding compound, which you don’t want to have.  Re-grease every oil change and after you have been in water or mud when off-roading.

Driveshaft Joint

All you need is a good grease gun and some grease. You could do this in your own garage, but putting your Jeep on a lift would make it easier. There is one seal in the joint that you need to turn the driveshaft to get at it. While greasing, if you pump in grease until you see clean grease come out past ALL the seals, you will insure that most of the contaminants will be washed away. This is extremely important if you submerge your Jeep in water or mud.


There are five seals that need to be greased. Just push on the coupler on the seal and squeeze in the grease. You will be able to see the old grease come out of the seals.

Grease fittings

One of the seals is a little hard to find inside the joint. Turning your drive shaft will help locate it.   Note: Not all drive shafts need this type of greasing. Check with your manufacturer to ensure proper greasing. 

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