Each axle shaft has an inner and an outer joint. All four of them are sealed with flexible rubber boots. Only the inner joints can cause a wobble when they are worn. Inspection and repair is not a typical do-it-yourself project. In addition, new housings from the dealer cost more than an entire remanufactured half shaft now from aftermarket sources.
You might be able to replace a half shaft on your own, but there is one very important thing to watch out for. You will need to remove the large axle nut. Do not loosen that nut with the weight of the vehicle on the tire because you will instantly damage the wheel bearing. It will become noisy, and make a buzzing noise like an airplane motor. Jack the vehicle up so the tire is off the ground, then the nut can be loosened.
You'll need to remove the pinch bolt for the ball joint stud, then use a very long pry bar to lower the control arm and ball joint out of the spindle. At that point, you can pull the spindle out to remove the outer joint from it. Then you just pull the shaft out of the transmission. Have a drain pan ready because a little transmission fluid will leak out.
The following is a copy / paste version of a previous reply that might provide some useful information:
There are six rolling surfaces in each inner housing that rollers run on. They allow the shaft to change angles and length as the suspension goes up and down. These surfaces must be absolutely perfectly smooth or binding will occur under load. Grooves worn in these surfaces cause the rollers to bind, then the shaft pushes against the spindle and lower control arm, and you feel this as a wobble in the steering wheel. Everything seems to go in streaks. When I was at the dealership in the 1990s, I replaced about two dozen housings in a two-year period. All different years, big variety of mileage, but nine out of ten had a bad passenger-side housing. Don't know why, but the left side gave much less trouble. It was only the minivans that this happened to.
The symptom is a severe steering wheel wobble under light to moderate acceleration, up to around 35 mph. Once you let off the gas, the wobble was gone. The repair involves disassembling and inspecting the housing. If you can feel the slightest wave or bumps, you REALLY have junk! If all six surfaces feel ok, wash out the grease, then look at the reflections while shining a light on them, similar to looking at the ground reflecting in the car's body at a car show. Any slight wave in the reflection is cause to replace the housing. Complete rebuilt half-shafts now cost less than a new housing from the dealership.
Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 AT 11:58 PM