A bad universal joint makes clunking, squeaking, grinding or vibration noises. Clunking noises are the most common, and they occur when engaging the drive or reverse gear. Vibration noises occur when accelerating or decelerating, and squeaking noises occur when driving at low speeds.
In addition to making noises, a bad universal joint may appear to be covered in orange dust or move around noticeably when the axle is twisted. This indicates that the joint is either loose or worn due to lack of lubrication. A bad universal joint should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent damage to the drive shaft, transmission and differential.