Should I replace individual CV joints or complete FWD drive shafts
In today’s market, you have to sell both. Some people only want to replace the individual joint if it is bad. Others find it easier and faster to replace the entire driveshaft assembly. The choice is theirs, not yours. All you should do is provide the options.
Many professional installers prefer to change the complete FWD driveshaft assembly rather than to rebuild or replace individual CV joints. It eliminates the hassle of getting the old joint off the shaft, tearing it apart (if the joint is to be rebuilt), installing the new or rebuilt joint back on the shaft, and installing a new boot (which often requires special tools to do the job right). A new shaft also includes a new boot for the inner joint, which should probably be changed anyway while the shaft is out of the vehicle.
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).
Those who prefer to change or rebuild individual CV joints with repair kits rather than to replace the entire shaft say it is more profitable to charge for the extra labor involved. Some consider replacing the entire driveshaft assembly to be an unnecessary expense if only one of the joints is bad.
Complete shaft assemblies are available at prices competitive with those of brand new CV joints. The most price competitive ones generally have rebuilt inner and outer CV joints which are little more than used joints that have been cleaned up, inspected and found to be within acceptable tolerances. Most shaft assemblies with rebuilt joints, however, have reconditioned joints with new cage and ball kits.
Some shaft rebuilders actually remanufacture their outer CV joints by regrinding housings, races and cages. Oversized balls are then installed to restore the joint to like-new condition.
There are trade-offs to consider when installing a shaft that has used, rebuilt or remanufactured CV joints. On the plus side, such shafts are less expensive, appealing to customers on a limited budget.
On the other hand, some installers question the longevity and reliability of a shaft that has used or rebuilt joints. For that reason, some prefer a shaft assembly with a new CV joint. These shafts generally cost a little more, but most also come with a limited lifetime warranty.