How To Tell When It Is Time To Replace The CV Joints In Your Car

Front-wheel drive cars and some four-wheel-drive trucks use drive axles with a constant velocity or CV joint at the wheel that allows the axle to pivot and turn with the steering and still transfer power to the wheel hubs. Over time, the joints can wear, and CJ joint replacement may be necessary. There are some signs to watch for that can wear you when the CV joints are bad, and if you neglect them, they can eventually break, leaving the vehicle stranded and unable to move under its own power. 

CV Joint Construction

CV joints are made from steel and consist of a large ring of ball bearings in a cone-shaped race with a stub shaft on one end. The center of the joint has a spined receiver that the axle connects to, providing power from the transaxle to the front wheels.

When the constant velocity joints start to wear, the ball bearings will begin to bind in the race, and often a clicking noise will appear as you turn corners under power. Over time the noise will get worse, and eventually, the bearings will seize completely, causing the joint to break and stop the vehicle from moving.

Mileage and dirt can contribute to the failure of the joint, and if you continue to drive the car until the CV joint failure occurs, there is a good chance the damage will extend beyond the CJ joint and affect the wheel hub, brake components, and potentially, the transaxle. 

CV Joint Care

Many people do not know the CV joints are under their car, so they do not check them regularly, but the shop handling their routine service should check them when the vehicle is on the lift for an oil and filter change. Constant velocity joint replacement is a big job, so maintaining them to ensure they last is essential. 

Each joint has a flexible rubber boot that encases the moving pieces to keep the grease in and dirt, water, and contaminants out while you are driving. The most common failure point on the CV joint is the boot, and as they age, the rubber may tear, allowing grit and water in and contributing to premature wear and damage.

If the boot tears, replacing it should be a priority to protect the CV joint and extend the service life. If the joint has already begun to make noise, you may need to consider CV joint replacement before it deteriorates far enough to break. Your mechanic can look at the condition of the joints in your car and recommend replacing them before they break or fail unexpectedly. 

For more information on CV joint replacement, contact a professional near you.