6 Common Bad CV Axle Symptoms with Solution and Replacement Cost
The constant velocity axle is one component of the drivetrain that you can find in many modern vehicles. This part has the purpose of transferring torque from the transmission and differential to the wheels so they can move forward or backward. Without the axle, most cars wouldn’t be able to move.
But precisely because the axle receives power directly from the engine is why they can break down. Due to the high stress a CV axle is under, they start to wear out and cause problems eventually. This doesn’t happen too frequently, but it is likely in most cars with this part.
That’s why it is essential to know the many things that can happen when this part starts to have issues. Here we are going to explain each one of the symptoms you can experience when this happens. If you are excited to learn about this – then read further and find out!
What is a CV Axle?
Let’s first start about what a CV axle is exactly. Composed of the CV Boot and CV joints, this part of the car connects the drive shaft to the transmission. You’ll mostly find it in front-wheel-drive cars, but many rear-wheel drives and even trucks have this part too.
Without this part, the transmission of many cars wouldn’t be able to send torque to the wheels and move the vehicle either forward or backward. It merely helps to transfer enough power to move a car freely, together with the suspension to prevent any inconsistent movement and drive the vehicle with balance & stability.
The construction of a CV axle is composed of a grease-filled part called the CV boot covered by a plastic or rubber part. This boot covers the CV joints, which connect in the inner portion to the transmission and in the outer part to the wheel.
When the CV boot breaks down, either because the cover broke and the grease dried out, or because the mechanism started to wear out or got damaged, the CV joints will start having issues.
And of course, these joints are the ones that move and connect the whole axle together to make the movement in cars possible. When they have issues, you’ll start to experience several problems when driving the vehicle.
6 Symptoms of a Bad CV Axle
Driving a car with a damaged CV axle is dangerous in many ways. And not only that, it could eventually cost you a lot of money if you don’t fix it in time.
Luckily for you, here we have all the answer you need not only to know when the CV axle starts having issues but also how to fix any problem with it when possible.
If you are worried about having a problem with CV axle or suspect something is happening with the wheels or transmission of your car, the following symptoms will let you know what’s the possible issue:
1. Too Many Vibrations
Most cars tend to vibrate depending on the power of the engine, construction, and many other things. However, these vibrations shouldn’t be distracting.
If you start feeling like the vehicle is vibrating too much to the point it makes weird sounds and distracts you when driving, it probably means you have a faulty CV axle.
Sometimes, these vibrations are so strong that even driving becomes difficult. You can also put yourself, people inside the car, and other drivers in danger when these vibrations happen.
Losing control or eventually making it hard to turn is one of the last & most dangerous symptoms of a CV axle that needs replacing.
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2. Difficulty to Steer
Along with great vibrations comes the difficult to steer. Whether it is turning or a simple curve in a road, you’ll feel as if the car doesn’t want to go that way.
This will make it hard to control the car for sure and eventually harm the overall experience of driving the vehicle.
Sometimes, the stress on the CV axle in a hard turn may break it completely and put you in danger, so it is essential to fix it before it is too late.
3. Grease on Tire or Under the Vehicle
One of the main things of CV axles is the boot in which the CV joint and the grease are. When the boots are broken, or the cover is not functioning as it should, you’ll start seeing grease along the edges of the tires and sometimes even under the car.
This happens because the constant movement of the axle eventually makes the grease come out when the boots are broken. The grease starts to stick in the edges of the tire as the closest object, and sometimes even falls directly to the floor.
This is an excellent signal that the CV axle is starting to break or the grease to dry out, so you’ll have to replace it soon.
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4. Knocking & Clacking Noises
When the CV axle is too damaged or worn out, it will start making all kind of noises. Thumping and clacking noises of the axle metal is one of the most common symptoms when it is broken.
This happens when the CV joints have little to no grease or when they start to move incorrectly and touch other parts of the car.
5. Screeching Noises
Sometimes the noises are not only loud knocking or crackling sounds, but instead nearly recognizable noises coming from the wheels. However, these small clicking noises slowly become a considerable screeching of metal-on-metal contact.
This happens especially when you start turning the car or when you accelerate suddenly. The stress in the CV axle will make the joints to start making these sounds.
So, it is common to experience small clicking noises when driving and then hear the loudest screeching noise when turning or accelerating. Depending on how bad the CV axle is, you’ll hear a louder or less noisy sound.
Normally, this always ends up in replacement.
6. Bounciness & Lack of Control
If you’re driving on a road that has not bumps, holes, and is entirely flat but you still feel like your car starts to bounce – very likely it is because the CV axle is starting to break.
This bounciness can happen in many ways, either jumping to the sides or up-and-down, which eventually not only makes it a little worrying while driving but also dangerous. We recommend checking the CV axle if you experience this.
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How to Check for a CV Axle Problem
There are two main ways to check whether the CV joints have any issue: visually and physically, plus a driving check to see how they work. Both are not different ways you can do separately, but together.
However, doing one first and then the other will help you find out the source of the problem faster:
Visual & Physical Check
- 1Start by parking the vehicle in flat ground. Set the emergency brake so the car won’t move, and then lift the front of the car so you can take a look at the axles.
- 2With either a flashlight or your cellphone flash, you need to slide under the car and try to inspect the CV axles, especially where the inner and outer joints are.
- 3It’s critical to see the state of the CV boots. Try to look for any crack or broken rubber boot. Also, look for signs of grease in the tires or around the CV axle. Remember to inspect each boot of the CV axles thoroughly.
- 4If you can’t see or access the boot visually, you can use your hand to inspect. Try to sense any crack, tear, or broken boot. If you feel too much grease in one boot or close to it, there’s a high chance the boot is drying out.
- 5If you don’t feel or see any tear or crack there’s probably no issue with the boot. However, you’ll still need to inspect the CV axle by doing a driving check if you want to forget about any problem with it.
- 1If you don’t find any issue with the CV axle or if you want to be wholly assured before replacing it, you’ll have to do a test drive to confirm.
- 2It is essential to let the engine and the rest of the car cool down. We recommend doing this first thing in the morning before taking the car out of the garage.
- 3Before driving it though, we recommend sliding under the car and grabbing the CV axle strongly. Then you can move the CV axle back and forth and to the sides. It shouldn’t move at all, to any direction. If it does, there’s a high chance it is broke in any of the sides. Otherwise, try the next step.
- 4Turn the car on and drive it for about 2 to 5 minutes and try to feel any of the previously mentioned symptoms. If you do, you probably have a bad CV axle. Otherwise, the next step will tell you.
- 5Then you can find a parking lot of large free space to drive the car. Here you can try to drive the car in circles and do hard turns, back and forth and on different directions. If any of these CV axles are bad, you’ll hear it when driving and turning in the parking lot.
Here it is important to remember that hearing or feeling any of the symptoms when driving the car in a straight line, and at low speed, it means that one of the CV axles is near complete breakage and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Sometimes it happens that driving the car feels completely normal, but then when you check the CV axle by looking or touching, you find out that the boot has no grease or that there are tears and cracks in the rubber.
If this is the case and you don’t feel any symptom, there’s a high chance you’ll start feeling them soon.
Solution to a CV Axle with Issues
Now that you are confident that the CV axle has an issue, you can try to fix it by applying grease before it is too late. However, you’ll have to make sure first that there’s only a little crack or tear you can fix, or otherwise, you will have to replace the whole axle or joint.
For this, you’ll have to first check for cracks, tears or splits in the CV boots of the axle. If you find any, you’ll have to check inside to see how greasy or how the grease inside is doing.
You’ll need to make sure that the grease is clean. When the boot is broken, it lets dirt, debris, and dust inside which eventually cause the grease gritty and dirty. With time, this grease will start drying out.
If you don’t feel any grease at all, you can start by re-applying grease. If the grease is dirty, you can try to clean the grease and re-apply the grease later.
After re-applying grease, you should test-drive the car and see if any of the symptoms keep appearing. If you keep hearing loud knocking or screeching noises, you’ll have to make a CV axle replacement.
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CV Axle Replacement Cost
A CV axle can cost between $90 and $250 in most spare part shops. But it is the cost of mechanic labor that really stands out, sometimes passing the range of the $500 up to the $800, but it could also cost as low as $200 if you’re lucky.
While the price of the CV joint replacement is not that much, the labor will really surprise you. This happens because a CV axle installation is a lot of work, even when the replacement comes with its own grease and clamps, you’ll have to do a lot of work to replace it.
If you are thinking on repairing the CV axle by yourself, you’ll need a torque wrench or breaker bar (strong one) with the ideal socket so you can loosen up the lock nut in the axle. This will help you remove the old broken CV axle.If you have
Then you’ll have to be prepared for the balls in the CV joint to fall down. When you have to remove this part, it is a problem to put it back to its place when you install the replacement. Mainly because you’ll have to assign the right torque to the hub nut, which means you’ll have to know the specifics of your car needs when doing this.
That’s why it’s recommended reading the car’s manual before trying any reparation or replacement of the CV axle. This way you can prevent issues and do it in the right manner.
Considerations for Replacing a CV Axle
The replacement of a CV axle is the most recommended and usual process when it starts failing in a car. However, there are some things you need to consider before doing it.
1. Consultation of a Mechanic
A CV axle can be repaired depending on how bad the problem is. Most of the time, however, the reparation of this part is close to the price of buying a new one & the labor.
This is why it is recommended taking the car to a mechanic for inspection; the expert will tell you whether to do a total replacement or a repair.
2. Check the Type
The cost of replacing a CV axle depends on whether you have a double-axle car or a single-axle car.
Double CV axles tend to cost up to twice what single-axle costs. And the repair & labor cost is also higher in the double-axle than in the single. So, you must be sure of what type of CV axle you have before going to replace it.
3. Going for A Replacement
If a CV joint or CV boot is worn out or broken, there’s a high chance you’ll need to replace the whole CV axle instead. Sometimes, you may find a specific replacement part for either the boot or the joint only, but this is very unlikely.
4. Estimate the Time Required
All cars have different designs of CV axles depending on the year, make, and model. Some vehicles may demand only a couple of hours to repair the CV axle, while others may need up to 8 or more hours of work to do so.
Make sure to assist a specialized repair shop if possible, they will tell you exactly how much time and effort it takes for repairing the CV axle of your specific car.
Fix Your CV Axle Now!
As you should know by now, the CV axle is the link between an engine and the wheels. Without it you wouldn’t have your car running at high speeds, turning, and working altogether. That’s why having a CV axle that’s broken or just defective is not a great way to drive around.
If you don’t repair a CV axle soon enough, you can put yourself and others at risk. Even going at low speeds in your neighborhood can be dangerous when you have CV axle problems. So, if you want to prevent any potential issue and get the best out of your car – replacing your CV axle will be the best idea to take.
Don’t hesitate and replace your CV axle now! If you feel or know there’s a problem with it, this guide will help you find the right solution. Remember, a mechanic will always be your best friend.
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