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Old 08-30-2017, 06:49 PM   #1
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Broken Universal joint and drive shaft

Our universal joint broke yesterday on I-95 and we lost the drive shaft. Was able to coast to the side with no problem. One part hit the hood of the car behind us and broke their windshield. They also ran over a part and flattened their back drivers side tire. Interesting thing is that there was no damage to our toad. Motorhome is being repaired - don't know how much yet, probably don't want to know. We had taken our MH to a Cumimns dealer to have it checked out in December including chassis lube, check engine, oil and fuel filters, etc. Apparently they didn't. We have the bill. My question is do we have any recourse. We put about 2,500 miles on it since December.
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Old 08-30-2017, 07:41 PM   #2
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If your ride height was off, that can put extra strain on the U-joints.

If you check the bearings in the U-joint and find them dry of grease, you might be able to get them to pay, but it's not a sure thing.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:18 PM   #3
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How many miles on the coach? I have never seen an OEM U-Joint that was greasable. Just because it is greased(if it could be) doesn't mean it can't fail. Unfortunately this one is on you.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:29 PM   #4
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Were the U joints original? If so they are 14 years old. I don't think Cummins can be responsible for metal fatigue or maybe 14 years of neglect. One lube job will not fix old U joints.

I had U joints go bad on my previous coach that were 8 years old and greased regularly. I was fortunate, I heard and felt them vibrating and made it to a truck garage 2 miles ahead.

A 14 year old coach, things are going to break, it's a fact of life.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:33 PM   #5
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Were the U joints original? If so they are 14 years old. I don't think Cummins can be responsible for metal fatigue or maybe 14 years of neglect. One lube job will not fix old U joints.
Not sure age would come into play on a u joint, now mileage and lack of grease yes.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dan and Ann View Post
Our universal joint broke yesterday on I-95 and we lost the drive shaft. Was able to coast to the side with no problem. One part hit the hood of the car behind us and broke their windshield. They also ran over a part and flattened their back drivers side tire. Interesting thing is that there was no damage to our toad. Motorhome is being repaired - don't know how much yet, probably don't want to know. We had taken our MH to a Cumimns dealer to have it checked out in December including chassis lube, check engine, oil and fuel filters, etc. Apparently they didn't. We have the bill. My question is do we have any recourse. We put about 2,500 miles on it since December.
I can guarantee you that you DO NOT have any recourse. It was DECEMBER when you had work done. This is AUGUST. Using advanced math, that's 8 months. And, you've put 2,500 miles on it since the work. If they did ANYTHING that was detrimental to the operation of that drive shaft, based on the torque applied to it, at various intervals, it would have failed long before now. Without seeing it, and analyzing the broken parts, for ANY OF US to give any form of explanation as to WHY it happened, is pretty much impossible. Suck it up, it happened and, it will be fixed and move on. Chalk it up to owning a motor home and, anything can happen, at any time. I'm not ragging on you, it's happened to many of us. Things break. These drive trains in these coaches are fairly stout but, they're still MAN MADE and, have the possibility of failure.





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Originally Posted by vdubbugman53 View Post
How many miles on the coach? I have never seen an OEM U-Joint that was greasable. Just because it is greased(if it could be) doesn't mean it can't fail. Unfortunately this one is on you.

I have never seen an OEM U-Joint that was greasable.

Well Sir, then you haven't been around too many large rigs. Our coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the C-7 330 CAT, has u-joints that I lube. And, I can personally attest that, that drive shaft or u-joints have NEVER been replaced. All our fire truck drive train components (including the drive shafts) were/are lubeable, from the factory. Our older Fleetwood Bounder 34V, with F-53 Chassis had lubeable drive shafts in it. Yes, there are some that are not but, there are many that are.

And, whether or not the ride height sensors were/are set correctly which, could possibly have been a contributing factor in this failure, remains to be seen and or checked, for proper setting. And, the OP does say that he's put 2,500 miles on the coach since service, he doesn't say how many miles totally are on the coach. So, if the ride height sensors are improperly set, then you'd have to add the 2,500 miles to whatever kind of mileage is/was already on the coach. Could it happen, can they be the cause, possibly.

I'm pretty sure we'll never know what caused this issue. It will be fixed, insurance will handle whatever they plan on paying, and the OP will move on. It sucks when something like this happens. Been there, done that, more than once.
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:56 AM   #7
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Recourse, I'm afraid not. Catastrophic failure of a universal joint is rather rare and very unpredictable. A general inspection during routine service might find excessive wear or play in the bearings but to find anything else would have required removal of the driveshaft and a detail inspection or other such non destructive testing. Testing of this nature would dramatically escalate the cost and time to service the coach and would not happen unless the owner specifically requested which is about as rare as a failure.

Sorry to read about what occurred but it happens just like flat tires, bird strikes,,,
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:52 AM   #8
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Recourse, I'm afraid not. Catastrophic failure of a universal joint is rather rare and very unpredictable. A general inspection during routine service might find excessive wear or play in the bearings but to find anything else would have required removal of the driveshaft and a detail inspection or other such non destructive testing. Testing of this nature would dramatically escalate the cost and time to service the coach and would not happen unless the owner specifically requested which is about as rare as a failure.

Sorry to read about what occurred but it happens just like flat tires, bird strikes,,,
Thank you, that's pretty much what we expected.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:00 AM   #9
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How many miles on the coach? I have never seen an OEM U-Joint that was greasable. Just because it is greased(if it could be) doesn't mean it can't fail. Unfortunately this one is on you.
We have a Workhorse gasser, 3 piece driveshaft. 5 grease fittings in the drive train. 4 u-joints and the slip joint.

It's pretty rare for them to fail. Even if it wasn't lubed the last time I doubt that would cause a failure. Now repeatedly not lubing it could but missing one time shouldn't.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:15 AM   #10
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Universal joint

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Originally Posted by FIRE UP View Post
I can guarantee you that you DO NOT have any recourse. It was DECEMBER when you had work done. This is AUGUST. Using advanced math, that's 8 months. And, you've put 2,500 miles on it since the work. If they did ANYTHING that was detrimental to the operation of that drive shaft, based on the torque applied to it, at various intervals, it would have failed long before now. Without seeing it, and analyzing the broken parts, for ANY OF US to give any form of explanation as to WHY it happened, is pretty much impossible. Suck it up, it happened and, it will be fixed and move on. Chalk it up to owning a motor home and, anything can happen, at any time. I'm not ragging on you, it's happened to many of us. Things break. These drive trains in these coaches are fairly stout but, they're still MAN MADE and, have the possibility of failure.


I have never seen an OEM U-Joint that was greasable.

Well Sir, then you haven't been around too many large rigs. Our coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the C-7 330 CAT, has u-joints that I lube. And, I can personally attest that, that drive shaft or u-joints have NEVER been replaced. All our fire truck drive train components (including the drive shafts) were/are lubeable, from the factory. Our older Fleetwood Bounder 34V, with F-53 Chassis had lubeable drive shafts in it. Yes, there are some that are not but, there are many that are.

And, whether or not the ride height sensors were/are set correctly which, could possibly have been a contributing factor in this failure, remains to be seen and or checked, for proper setting. And, the OP does say that he's put 2,500 miles on the coach since service, he doesn't say how many miles totally are on the coach. So, if the ride height sensors are improperly set, then you'd have to add the 2,500 miles to whatever kind of mileage is/was already on the coach. Could it happen, can they be the cause, possibly.

I'm pretty sure we'll never know what caused this issue. It will be fixed, insurance will handle whatever they plan on paying, and the OP will move on. It sucks when something like this happens. Been there, done that, more than once.
Scott

Your post certainly seems to be "ragging" on me with your comment about "advanced math" and your capitalization of words. Yes, our coach is 14 years old but only has 60,000 miles and we do our best to take good care of it. The reason I asked the question is because the tow driver and the repair person both said it looked like there was no lubrication. Yes, anything man made can break, and yes, the coach is being repaired and as I said in my original post. I thought this was a forum to help each other and your post was not very helpful.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:24 AM   #11
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How many miles on the coach? I have never seen an OEM U-Joint that was greasable. Just because it is greased(if it could be) doesn't mean it can't fail. Unfortunately this one is on you.
my 2010 workhorse chassis has about 5 zerks on all original u joints.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:59 AM   #12
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yeah, the coach has grease zerks. i have the same chassis, same year.
the automotive industry has gone to no zerks on automobiles, in a lot of places,but heavier chassis retains the zerks.
unless the u joint has been replaced, recently, i dont believe there is any recourse. but i never say never.
i had a 2002 winnebago chieftain, and the u -joint, with grease zerks, failed at 52,000 miles. i heard it squeaking when going from drive to reverse in a parking lot. i replaced it in a walmart parking lot. sorry for your problem.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:16 AM   #13
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It does seem unusual for a U-Joint to just let go like that. I have had them fail (bearings go dry) and the first signs I noticed were a cyclical squeak and driveline vibration that could be felt in the vehicle.

I would suggest an inspection of the U-joint to see what caused it to fail. It could be that a retaining clip on the yoke fell out due to bad installation, or a bad clip. I find it hard to believe that there was no previous noise prior to failure, but I suppose it is possible in a large motorhome.

BTW... glad to hear that no one was seriously hurt. A fallen driveshaft could be come a deadly missile at highway speeds. This is the type of information that the NHTSA needs to have in their data base. Usually more than a couple of reported occurrences like that and that and they will open an investigation..... sometimes resulting in a recall or inspection of all similar vehicles.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:37 AM   #14
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I for one will cut Dan & Ann some slack. I greased mine twice before I found the u joint zerks. The RV has to be parked just right and even then my grease gun will barely fit.

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