Do you mean the inner joint is coming apart? Not sure what you meant by
"when I took out the other I saw that... "
The inner joints have a strong spring inside pushing it apart, (stretching the length of the shaft). This spring pushes the inner housing into the transmission to keep the splined shaft engaged and the seal riding on the smooth machined surface. It is not unheard of for the spring to break which could cause the joint to pop out of the transmission.
To test the spring, jack up that wheel, remove the axle nut and cotter pin, then push the outer cv joint in toward the transmission. You should have to grunt a little to get it to move about 3/4", then it should pop back out at you. If it moves very easily, then stays there, the spring is broken. They are available at the dealership for around $4.00 and include a metal cap that rides against the end of the shaft.
ONE WORD OF WARNING: Don't loosen or remove the axle nut unless the wheel is jacked up off the ground. The hub / wheel bearing assembly is held together with the outer cv joint and nut. The bearing WILL be damaged and become noisy if the axle nut is loosened while the weight of the vehicle is on the wheel. This happens on GM vehicles too.
Had to align a GM car that came from the body shop at the Chrysler dealership I worked at. They had the engine and transmission out to repair crash damage. They installed two new wheel bearings, then found out it would be weeks to get parts so they pushed the car outside to free up some working room. Total distance pushed out and back in with no drivetrain weight was under 100 feet. When I test drove it after the alignment, both new bearings howled like an airplane engine! Had to replace both of them again.
Axle nut torque is important too. Don't just make them tight; use a torque wrench. Typical values are between 180 - 240 foot pounds. Your new shaft should have come with an instruction sheet listing the proper torque spec. Otherwise the value can be found on the last page of the Transmission or Front Suspension section of the service manual.
Thursday, March 19th, 2009 AT 2:27 PM