Bad CV Axle Symptoms

Bad CV Axle Symptoms – What To Look Out For Before You Replace It

Paul Hadley

This article was recently reviewed by car expert Paul Hadley to ensure it is as accurate and helpful as possible.

Does your vehicle vibrate a lot or feel jerky while accelerating? That could be some bad CV axle symptoms. The Constant Velocity (CV) axle is a standard part in nearly every car on the road today. Their work is to transmit power to your vehicle wheels while in motion. It reduces the friction experienced when transmitting power from the transmission unit to the wheels.

The position of CV axles may vary from vehicle to vehicle, but they are present in all cars. It is quite risky to have a poor CV joint/axle if it goes unnoticed for a long time, regardless of the vehicle. Meanwhile, it’s easy to detect bad CV axle symptoms if you pay close attention to what we’ll show you here.

The most prevalent cause of CV axle problems is the absence of grease in the unit, which prevents the parts from being sufficiently lubricated. This post will show you how to identify the warning signals of a deteriorating CV axle. You will also learn to repair problematic CV axles without breaking the bank.

Common Bad CV Axle Symptoms

Watch out for these signs: These warning signs could mean your CV axles are deteriorating or bad.

1. Excessive Vibrations While Driving

If your CV axles are worn or broken, it will cause vibrations and make noise as you drive. Making the CV joints lose balance when the car turns. Vibrations increase in intensity in direct proportion to speed, which significantly reduces the comfort and safety of everyone in the automobile.

The engine and other parts of a car may slightly vibrate even while the vehicle is at a standstill, and this is quite normal. However, if the vibrations become excessive or make strange noises, that could be some bad CV axle symptoms. A diagnosis should be done in any case; Consider a CV axle replacement if that’s what is required.

2. Clacking Or Knocking Sound

Most times, cars with bad CV axles will make knocking sounds when it turns. That can happen if the joints aren’t oiled or just worn out. The greater the noise, the more serious the damage. Although not every clacking sound signifies a CV axle damage.

For cars with front-wheel drive (FWD), the noise might originate from the inner joints, but for vehicles with rear-wheel drive (RWD), it could be from any area of the joint surface based on the vehicle’s model.

For diagnosis, put the car in reverse mode, speed up, and slow down again. Accelerate and decelerate at a rapid pace while listening for those growling sounds. If you keep hearing high-pitched growling noises, the CV axles are malfunctioning. At this point, book an appointment with the mechanic for a fix.

3. Flow Of Grease On Your Tire Edges

The presence of greasy buildup around the rims of your vehicle tires may indicate that the CV joints are bad. It is common for darker grease to flow out of a CV joint’s boot when cracked. The CV boots usually contain lubricants like grease, which keeps the CV joints safe. Over time, it deteriorates and starts dripping oil all over the edges.

Book an appointment with a mechanic right away if you find your car in that state. Fix it as soon as possible to avoid more harm to your vehicle. A simple CV axle boot replacement will do the magic. However, before making any repairs, ensure you know exactly what’s wrong.

4. Noises When Steering The Wheels

CV axles help to manage friction while transferring energy to the wheels. The joints might become loose as the CV axle wears out over time. It makes the outer joints wobbly, generating clicks and pop sounds.

These clacking sounds will usually occur while steering the vehicle. A bad CV axle may still cause vibrations while traveling on a straight path. They are designed to survive for longer periods but may experience early wear and tear if the vehicle is abused, and driven recklessly.

Overall, if you are experiencing strange sounds when moving linearly together with heavy vibration, there is a likelihood the inner joint is not in good shape. You might need a CV axle replacement right away.

5. Vehicle Becomes Bouncy And Easily Loses Control

This is a common bad CV axle symptom. A worn CV axle will often begin to jerk and shimmy the vehicle in a hazardous way. When that happens, You’ll feel like you’re driving over rough terrain, even when on perfectly smooth asphalt.

A broken or worn CV axle can make you lose control while driving; The condition will worsen, as the component deteriorates. It’s risky if the joint wears out. If you notice that your car is becoming jerky and difficult to manage, you should have a professional inspect the suspension components, especially your CV joints. Don’t go behind the wheel until the problem is resolved.

How To Diagnose A Bad CV Axle?

This is not a step-by-step guide. You can detect the problem in any session.

Step 1: Check The Boots

The first step is to examine the rubber boots located on the axle shaft close to the wheel. Knowing its condition can help determine whether or not the CV joint needs replacement.

It is pointless to replace only the CV joints in your vehicle without knowing the condition of the boot. Worn-out boots will still damage your new CV axle in a short time.

Step 2: Check For Signs Of Wear And Tears On The CV Joint

Over time, CV joints lose their tightness and begin to click as they rotate. If the CV joint shows signs of wear or is caked in grease, it’s time to replace it. When inspecting CV joints, look for evidence of fractures, rips, tears, and perforations; these conditions allow grease to escape allowing dirt to enter the joint.

Bad CV Axle Symptoms

Step 3: Drive-in Full Turn Circle And Listen For A Clicking Sound

Your CV joint should alert you when they are deteriorating. As a general rule, hop into your vehicle with the windows down and drive slowly around a complete circle. If your CV joints are worn, you should hear a clicking sound when you crank your wheel to the lock. That is done best in the reverse mode.

Drive carefully through complete rotations and do it either way to determine its condition. Clicking and knocking sounds are common bad CV axle symptoms. An audible “click” indicates that they’re beginning to wear out. If the clicking sound is accompanied by an unsteady wheel or abnormal vibrations, your CV axles are in horrible shape. Replace them immediately.

CV Axle Replacement

If your CV axle/joint is bad or doesn’t work, you need a CV axle replacement right away. Your vehicle’s model determines how simple or difficult it will be to replace your CV joint. Doing this will require some toolkits that will make the job easier.

Follow these steps to get the job done within minutes.

  1. Wear your safety kits; gloves, overalls, and boots. We don’t recommend doing such maintenance work without the proper safety kits
  2. Get the tools ready: you’ll need a hammer, puller, wrench, clippers, and a large socket. Also, get new cotter pins, like 3 pieces; you might need them.
  3. Apply the hand brake, and jack, to your car, and hold it in position with a wedge
  4. Loosen the nuts: loosen the nuts that secure the CV axle in position. Remove the tie rod ends with a large socket. Then remove the cotter pin with a pair of clippers.
  5. Remove the tie rod end: The next step is to remove the nut using a compatible socket and wrench. After that, you will need to gently remove the tie rod end without causing any damage to the vehicle.
  6. Free up the strut: You do that by unscrewing the bolts that hold it in place. The assembly should fall off when done. If it doesn’t, push it a little to get it out. After that, you smash the end of the CV joint with a crack hammer and a drift chisel to loosen it from the position. You can learn more about this in our guide on replacing struts.
  7. Pull out the other end of the bad CV axle: Next, pull out the other end from the transmission. You’ll need a pry bar and a hammer to pull the other end out of the transmission. Put the pry bar behind the joint, hit it with the hammer, and it should slide off.
  8. Note: If the hydraulic fluid seeps out, you need to fix the oil seal. Ensure to ready your drain pan to capture any oil that escapes as you work on the vehicle.
  9. Oil the new axle shaft: After replacing the seal, smear the end of your new axle that connects to the transmission unit with grease. That will help the snap-in ring stay in position and freely glide into the transmission unit.
  10. Insert the new CV axle into position: Insert the whole shaft into the transmission unit and tap the axle end with a crack hammer to make the clip lock into position.
  11. Reassemble the parts: Once the CV joint is in place, the final step is to re-assemble everything. Fasten the axle nut after reinstalling all the bolts. Reinstall the tie rod, and tighten its nuts; Put some pressure on it and make it tight.
  12. Use a sizable wrench to tighten it up, remembering to bend the cotter pin that keeps it in position so it doesn’t slip off. Also, insert a cotter pin before the axle nut to hold it in place.
  13. Refill with transmission oil: Don’t forget to refill the transmission oil. You may use a pump to refill the oil.
  14. Fix back the wheels: After re-assembling the system, fix back your wheels, insert the tires and lower your vehicle. Don’t forget to do a road test.
  15. Repeat the same process for every bad CV axle you want to replace. Note: this is for a standard CV axle system. The process may vary depending on your vehicle model or manufacturer.

CV Axle Replacement Cost

A typical car axle repair/replacement cost ranges from $600 to $1000. The exact amount is dependent on the vehicle type and the labor expenses associated with replacing the CV axle.

You don’t expect the CV axle replacement cost of a 2022 Lexus ES to be the same as the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Lexus’ components are costlier, and the labor fee would even cost more given that it’s 4WD.

The cost of a new axle for your regular vehicle ranges from $130 to $200. For new cars, you might get it as high as $400. While CV axle/joint replacement process for some automobiles is rather basic, others are challenging. That could lead to a higher CV axle replacement labor time; which means more money if you have to pay per hour.

Bad CV Axle Symptoms

Budget an average of $200 for the labor cost, which will also vary by vehicle model. Generally, changing all the CV axles in 4WD models will cost more because you’d find it in all the tires.

For the best outcome, ensure you pick a qualified mechanic. You can also get by the labor cost by doing the work yourself. However, if you aren’t sure about making it, go for a mechanic.

The cost may be higher, but the investment will be well worth it, given the improvement in the vehicle’s overall quality and the satisfaction you feel in the long run.

How To Find A Mechanic For CV Axle Replacement?

Before hiring a mechanic for CV axle replacement, inquire about their experience and business history. Consider checking out client reviews and testimonials if you have the time. Ask if the technicians have the ASE or manufacturer certifications.

Bad CV Axle Symptoms

Aside from looking up mechanics online, the AAA-Approved Auto Repair Network and the Better Business Bureau are good places to find capable mechanics.

Last Words On Bad CV Axle Symptoms

We’ve done our job by providing you with the guidelines for identifying the common bad CV axle symptoms. We advise you to watch out for these signs to identify the fault at the early stages.

If your CV axle is already bad, you can replace it yourself by following the guidelines above. However, hiring a professional mechanic will not cost you a fortune if you can’t DIY it.

Overall, we wish you the best experience with your CV axle replacement. Feel free to practice our guide, and don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comment session below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) On Bad CV Axle Symptoms

What Is A CV Axle

The Constant Velocity (CV) axle is a vehicle component responsible for transferring power from your vehicle’s transmission unit to the wheels. They make it possible for a vehicle’s transmission to turn the wheels. The CV axle keeps working as you use the gearing. Over time, the bearings and rubber boots that make up the CV axle become subject to wear and tear and eventually need to be replaced.

What Is An Axle

An axle is a stationary, long shaft with a joint at the edge used to mount spinning wheels or gears. They are found in vehicles and help to transmit torque to the wheel. A bearing fixed at the CV joints helps the wheels to rotate. Part of their function is to hold the wheels in position.

How Long Can You Drive On A Bad CV Axle

It depends on how you manage the car. For older vehicles or cars you often drive, consider repairing the bad CV axle after 3 to 4 months. Some pro technicians would tell you to manage the bad CV axle for 2 months extra; that’s not ideal for every vehicle.  How long the CV axle lasts before it gets dangerous also depends on the initial condition of the vehicle’s axles and the terrain you ply often. You don’t want to endanger your life by what technicians say knowing your vehicle can’t hold up. We recommend you go for a CV axle replacement after 4 months of experiencing the common bad CV axle symptoms. If you feel your vehicle can hold up a little longer, try not to exceed 5 months or a max of 6 months.

What Does A CV Axle Do

The primary function of a CV axle is to effectively transmit torque to the wheels of a vehicle with minimal friction. It is responsible for absorbing the vehicle’s weight and all of its braking and accelerating forces. This component contributes to your vehicle’s driving, braking, and steering capabilities. It manages the vehicle’s weight and disperses the pressures away from the wheels.

How To Tell If CV Axle Is Bad

If your car has a faulty CV axle, the best course of action is to have it serviced. Watch out for those bad CV Axle symptoms listed above to determine the extent of the damage. Examine the CV boots and joints for possible signs of damage or cracks. That’s the first thing to do if you have any concerns. Book a mechanic right away or follow the steps listed above to attempt a repair yourself if you can.

What Is A CV Joint

A constant velocity joint is a mechanical coupling that helps keep your vehicle’s wheels in place no matter the angle of the joint. It is used in front-wheeled vehicles and 4WDs. It helps to keep the wheels from shocks and friction. Every CV axle has inner and outer joints. The inner CV joint connects the half shaft to the transmission unit, while the outer CV joint connects the half shaft to your vehicle’s wheels. It ensures the transmission of torque to the wheels. An automobile’s CV joints can degrade with time due to wear and tear. A damaged CV boot can also cause untimely damage to the CV joint by leaking away the grease meant to lubricate the joint.

How To Tell Which CV Joint Is Bad

It’s tricky to detect the defective CV joint, especially if you are not a mechanic. The simple way to tell a bad CV joint, whether left or right is by listening for clicking and knocking sounds while steering. If the clicking sound happens when you turn left, the right CV joint is bad. And if it occurs when you turn right, the left CV joint is bad. We’d recommend you change both CV Axles if one side is damaged. But if you detect a damaged CV boot, change that side alone; you should be fine.

Can A Bad CV Joint Affect The Transmission

Yes! A bad CV joint will affect transmission. When a CV joint goes bad and losses alignment, it will affect the flow of power to the wheels. It makes the car lose balance leading to excessive vibrations. Over time, it loses its ability to absorb the exerted pressure and stress on the wheel.

What Is An Axle On A Car

For cars, an axle is a vehicle component like rods or shafts located under the vehicle’s chassis and used to drive the wheels. It helps to hold the wheels in place and is responsible for distributing the vehicle’s weight away from the wheels. The front axle helps to keep the wheels in place while steering. It’s also responsible for transmitting power to the wheels like the rear axles.

What Happens If My Drive Shaft Breaks While Driving

While in motion, a broken driveshaft can lead to your vehicle somersaulting depending on the car’s speed. What happens is that your automobile will no longer have the capacity to rely on its wheelbase for stability. It can result in losing total control of the vehicle in the worst scenario.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad CV Axle

Excessive vibration is an early sign of a bad CV axle. Although, you cannot attribute all vibrations to a bad CV axle. Many issues might cause CV axle vibrations when driving. The sooner you address that, the lesser the damage to your car. Another symptom is the wobbling of the entire axle system, resulting in loud banging or growling noises. If you hear a lot of grunting, it’s probably coming from your CV joint or axle. A bouncy or jerky vehicle could also mean bad CV axle symptoms. A damaged CV boot resulting in oil leakage along the wheels is another sign of a damaged CV axle/joint.

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