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After 1996, Jeep moved this slip joint from inside the transfer case (where it was lubed by the transfer case oil) to outside it, and used a heavy grease on the splines. This grease gets hard, and will not slip properly when you have force on it. I HAD the exact same problem with my '96 XJ, but resolved it. You will need to pull the driveshaft (4-8MM bolts on rear U joint).
There is a boot held in place with 2 metal straps. These straps clip together and are somewhat re-useable if you spread the notch out, and can get it back on. I used a large wire cutters to crimp mine back on. You can also replace these with heavy nylon straps.
Clean the splines very well (I used carb cleaner and a brush) and replace the grease with Loctite Silver Antiseize (don't substitute this). You can find where to get it at:
Apply it liberally, and get it down inside the grooves of the splines. Re-assemble and test. You'll be amazed.
One caution, mark the U joint and replace the straps and bolts exactly as they presently are. I use those yellow metal markers like the junkyards use (available from NAPA). Also mark exactly which tooth the spline is set into, and put it back where it was.
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