Guide to Defender Propshaft Removal

Apr 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Defender How To Guides

Guide to Removing and Replacing a Defender Propshaft

Here’s a quick guide on “How To” Replace a Defender propshaft (On this occasion a rear propshaft).

Why it needs replacing ?

My Defender has been making some considerable noises in it’s day to day use and it was time to investigate just what was causing these noises. These noises varied from a clanging to a grinding noise with an added binding/vibrating when slowing down. So it was time to grab my overalls and once again venture underneath the Landy and go all Sherlock Holmes to find the cause of the problem.

Nothing was apparent at first, nothing broken, nothing hanging off so time to look a bit bit deeper. I tried to recreate the clanging sound that my Landy had been making and worked my way through the underneath of my Landy tapping things as I went until Clang the exact noise that my Landy had been making. The Part that was making the noise was the rear propshaft , so I released the handbrake and rotated the propshaft back and forth. Upon further investigation I found that the UJ closest to the rear axle had loads of play in it and was really binding/notchy when turning.

So time to remove the Rear propshaft

You’ll need a few tools to remove a propshaft and one in particular just makes the job easier.

Specialist socket for prop shaft fasteners on most land rovers and variants. The 9/16 socket end is a perfect hexagon with rounded tip profiles to ensure the whole turning power is transferred onto the flanks of the nuts instead of on the corners. The sockets slim wall construction and wine glass profile, coupled to an integral slim line extension, means that it fits perfectly between the UJ yokes and over the prop shaft nuts, without fouling. Even better, unlike most other fasteners on Land Rover products, the 9/16 AF (3/8 unf nyloc) nuts used are common to Series Land Rovers, Defenders (90 & 110 up to latest vehicles) Discovery’s (up to and including Disco II model) and even Range Rovers (up to and including P38 model), so one size tool genuinely does fit all. These tools are with the required 9/16 AF hex socket on one end and either a 1/2″ or 3/8″ drive on the other end so that it can be used on a ratchet. They aren’t expensive and can easily be found on the net and if your going to maintain your propshaft properly they pay for themselves real quick.

The other tools you will need are a 9/16 Ring Spanner or a 14mm if you don’t have a 9/16 one , Some penetrating fluid (WD40 etc) and a Hammer.

In case you need to order some Penetrating Fluids.


So here’s the Rear Propshaft in all it’s Glory, semi painted like everything else. Always something to do on a Landy :D

Here’s the Propshaft UJ at the Handbrake drum end, plenty of grease present.

Here’s the Propshaft at the Axle/Diff end, looking a bit dry of grease.

The suspect UJ as connected to the rear Axle/Diff end.

There are a total of 8 x 9/16 AF Nuts and Bolts to remove, 4 per end of Propshaft. I have marked both ends of the propshaft/UJ with a white paint marker so that I can replace the propshaft in the position I removed it (Not neccessary but just something that I routinely do when removing parts).

Now starting at the Rear axle end I gave the nuts and bolts a quick squirt with WD40 (soak the handbrake end too whilst your at it in preperation for their removal) just to loosen them and lubricate them for removal. I then started to remove the nuts and bolts using the slimline socket and a 9/16 AF ring spanner.

When removing the Propshaft you can remove the Nuts / Bolts from either end of the shaft but I chose to remove the Rear axle / Diff end first because I reckoned it would be easier to let the propshaft drop down and rest on the end connected to the handbrake drum.

You will only need a ratchet and the slimline socket to remove the bolts from the handbrake drum end as the bolts are self encapsulated so the nuts just wind off and leave the bolts in place in the handbrake drum. Once the nuts have been removed you will now have the propshaft just hanging there waiting for a bit of persuasion from a hammer.

Hold the now loose propshaft with one hand and give the axle end a slight tap with a hammer.

(The propshaft is going to drop so be ready, it only weighs about 6kg but even that can leave a lump on your head if not ready).

One quick tap and it’s off.

This time the propshaft split at the slider so the UJ and Slider were left in place at the handbrake drum end whilst the propshaft and axle end UJ came off as one unit which was put to one side.

Just give the slider a pull and it comes off from the handbrake drum end.

Here’s the handbrake drum flange minus the slider unit.

Just a quick photo of the propshaft slider splines, all well and good and in good condition.

Here’s the source of the clanging/binding. An obviously collapsed UJ where the needle rollers have dropped out of the cup and are being dragged around within the rubber seal. Even though I have regularly greased the UJ’s it seems that the grease was not being distributed around the UJ leading to the failure that you can see in the image below circled in red.

For this guide I am going to be replacing the whole propshaft so there is no need to cover “How To” Replace propshaft Uj’s if you need to see how to replace a propshaft UJ then you can find a guide Here

Fitting New Propshaft

As this particular Landy is fitted with a 2″ lifting kit the decision was made to replace the old propshaft with a new Wide Angle propshaft to reduce premature wear on the UJ’s. There are a few brands on the market that sell this type of propshaft but the choice on this occasion was easy. The lifting kit used on this Landy is all from a company named QT Services. They are a well respected company within the Landrover community and have had great success with their Wildcat Extreme Offroad vehicles, so the choice was easy and it continues the use of the QT brand of parts on this Landy.

Click to Visit - QT Services part department

The Qt Team are very fortunate to have a group of people who are not only work colleagues but good friends as well.  Their enthusiasm for what they do makes producing the parts they make and building cars a pleasure. Their Customers benefit from the team’s considerable knowledge and experience in engineering and motorsport and they pride themselves in providing high quality equipment and vehicles for every discipline in off road motorsport.

Their skills base includes experience in CAD manufacture and design , factory trained Land Rover engineers and highly experienced fabricators with welding capabilities to aviation certification standard. This is complemented by a dedicated storekeeping system and an admin team experienced in their core activities of sales, IT and accounts management.

Wide Angle Propshaft

Here’s a bit of the science behind wide angled props “If your Land Rover has raised suspension or has been modified for extreme axle articulation then the joints on the existing prop shaft will become strained. This will cause the prop shaft to lock up or vibrate and wear the universal joints prematurely. Fitting a wide angle propshaft reduces vibration, universal joint ‘bind-up’ and premature wear. When lifting a Landrover it drops the axle further away from the chassis which is great for looks, articulation and off-road performance. The fitting of a wide angle prop shaft allows drivetrain angles of up to 32 degrees which reduces vibration, universal joint ‘bind-up’ and premature wear on the joints. These wide angle shafts have greasable universal joints which are more desirable where longer life is required”

Refitting of a new propshaft is easy as its now just a case of refitting the propshaft and tightening the 8 x 9/16 AF (3/8 unf nyloc) nuts/bolts. Before refitting the propshaft its worth greasing the prop and UJ’s , they are usually supplied pre-greased but there is no harm is pumping through some grease to ensure everything is nicely lubricated. Just pump some grease through until you see it running out of the UJ’s and Slider Joint.

On this 300tdi 110 Landy the new propshaft bolts/nuts were fitted and tightened using a Torque Wrench upto 47Nm (35lb/ft). Thats it really, old propshaft off, problem diagnosed, new propshaft fitted and a lesson in UJ maintenance learnt.

Pictures of New Propshaft To Follow as it’s currently being made.

Hope you found this guide useful and just a final word on UJ Maintenance from extreme4x4.co.uk

Propshaft UJ Maintenance

We recommend that after each time you off road you remove your propshafts so the U.J.s and slip joint can be greased when the propshaft is not under load. The picture to the left tells the story, especially when the suspension is lifted. Next time you grease your U.J.s check out where the grease is coming out of. You’ll find that it will always be the same 2 cups on the same two U.J. spiders. Invariably if you turn the propshaft to change the load on the U.J. bearings you will not be able to get the grease gun connector onto the nipple.

The guy that owned these bearings swears blind that he had always greased them after off roading. He jet washed the underside and ran the vehicle for a few miles so that the U.J.s were warm and then greased them.

We are sure that he did, but as you can see two of the bearings are bone dry and one has destroyed all it’s needle bearings as per the UJ in this very guide.

It only takes 15 minutes to take each propshaft off and put back and give the U.J.s a good grease, as well as the slide joint. Always re-assemble with new nyloc nuts.

[review pros=”Depends on the reason behind why you removed it.” cons=”None Really” score=45]

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5 Comments to “Guide to Defender Propshaft Removal”

  1. Andy says:

    Many thanks for the website !

    I’ve quite a lot of work to do on my 127 and it’s been realy great being able to read such clear instructions and I will be using the guides a lot

    The first big job involved this task (in order to get at the Gearboxes). I have to admit buying the proshaft removal tool and I’m not conveinced by it as it was a pain once the nut had started to loosen, but not enturely free. I think I will stick with 2 9/16 spanners in future. Dowsing everything in loads of releasing oil beforehand worked a treat thought!


    • Pod51 says:

      I found the prop tool really useful but everything went well for me and I had no spinning of the nuts/bolts. However I can appreciate that if you find 2 x 9/16 spanners easier then thats the way to go. Glad you found the guide useful and keep popping back to see what comes up next in my Land Rover ownership.

  2. Kenny says:

    Excellent info and advice

  3. Phil Clack says:

    Hi, thanks for a great, informative website. Your 110 is looking really good. I just wondered how you’re getting on with your QT prop shaft. I bought one too but it seems solid with no slider joint. Was yours easy enough to fit? Any chance of a few pics? Many thanks again for a very helpful website, Phil

  4. John Kay says:

    Thanks a lot for the informative guide on repairs to my Defender 90, UJs. Had a good idea what was required workwise. Just needed some reassurance. I will use your website in the future. Thanks again. Cheers. John Kay.

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