How to Tell if the FWD Constant Velocity Joint Needs Replacing

How to tell if the FWD constant velocity joint needs replacing?

Noise is usually the most obvious clue. Check the following list of symptoms:

  • 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 FWD applications, either inner or outer
    joints in a RWD independent suspension, or from the driveshaft CV joints or
    U-joint in a RWD or 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 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 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 do.
  • 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.

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