How to tell If A Constant Velocity Joint Needs
Noise is usually the most obvious clue. Check the following list of
The classic symptom of a worn or damaged outer joint is a popping or clicking
noise when turning. The symptom can be aggravated by putting the car in reverse and backing in a
circle. If the noise gets louder, the outer joint(s) should be replaced.
A "clunk" when accelerating, decelerating or when putting the transaxle into
drive. This kind of noise can come from excessive play in the inner joint on front wheel drive
applications, either inner or outer joints in a rear wheel drive independent suspension, or from the
driveshaft CV joints or U-joint in a rear wheel drive (RWD) or 4 wheel Drive (4WD) powertrain. The same
kind of noise can also be produced by excessive backlash in the differential gears.
A humming or growling noise, sometimes due to inadequate lubrication in either
the inner or outer CV joint, is more often due to worn or damaged wheel bearings, a bad intermediate
shaft bearing on equal length halfshaft transaxles, or worn shaft bearings within the
A shudder or vibration when accelerating may be caused by excessive play in
either inboard or outboard joints, but more likely the inboard plunge joint. These kinds of vibrations
can also be caused by a bad intermediate shaft bearing on transaxles with equal length halfshafts. On
front wheel drive (FWD) vehicles with transverse-mounted engines, this kind of vibration can be caused
by loose or deteriorated engine/transaxle mounts. Be sure to inspect rubber bushings in the upper
torque strap on these engines to rule out this possibility.
A vibration that increases with speed is rarely due to a bad CV joint or front
wheel drive (FWD) halfshaft imbalance. A missing damper weight on a halfshaft can sometimes cause
harmonic vibrations, however. An out-of-balance tire or wheel, an out-of-round tire or wheel, or a bent
rim are more likely causes.
If a joint seems noisy, a visual
inspection should follow. If the boot is loose, split, cracked, torn, or punctured, chances are the joint is noisy
because it has lost its supply of grease and/or the joint has been contaminated by dirt and/or water. Either way,
the boot and joint will probably have to be replaced. If a joint isn't making noise but the boot is damaged, the
boot should be replaced immediately. If the grease feels gritty, dirt has gotten inside the joint. Chances are the
joint has already been damaged. Either way, the joint should be disassembled, cleaned and inspected before the new
joint is installed. CV joints require a special high temperature grease. Ordinary chassis grease will not
Notice!! CV joint repairs should not be put off. Failures can have serious results. An outer
joint that seizes while driving can cause loss of steering control. A joint that fails and breaks apart may
cause the driveshaft to drop out of the car.
Should I Replace
Individual CV Joints or Complete FWD Driveshafts?
On some vehicles, there is no
choice as to whether the joint or entire driveshaft assembly can be replaced. On FWD vehicles that use tripod outer
joints (Toyota Tercel, Nissan Stanza and AMC/Renault Alliance), individual replacement joints are not available
(though repair kits for tripod outer joints are available).