Cv Joint Care
Here’s How to Properly Care for CV Joints and Avoid Meaningless Replacements
By Shelby Joelle “SJ”
Vehicular malfunction is a problem that anyone with a car has probably experienced. According to a study, more than 1 million car incidents have occurred since 1996.
The most common problems reported by owners have to do with the engine and engine cooling. This problem was reported more than 120,000 times. The second most common car problem is the electrical system at around 118,000 occurrences.
However, there are other smaller issues that can render a car unusable. The constant velocity joints, or CV joints, of a car are responsible for transferring the torque from the transmission to the drive wheels. They are designed to accommodate the constant pressure being put on the suspension while driving.
In other words, CV joints are car parts that allow you to continuously accelerate your vehicle while turning the steering wheel.
What are CV Joints?
CV joints can be found in all types of automobile layouts, whether four-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. There are two CV joints on both ends of the drive shafts. These are called the inner CV joints and the outer CV joints. The inner joints connect to the transmission while the outer joints connect to the wheels.
The most common types of CV joints are the ball-type and the tripod-type. Ball-type CV joints are commonly used in front-wheel drive for the outer joint, while tripod-type joints are mostly used on the inner side.
These special car parts don’t usually need much maintenance. In fact, it’s normal for a well-maintained car with more than 300,000 miles on it to still be using its original CV joints. Let’s take a look at how to properly care for your vehicle to preserve the integrity of its CV joints and avoid wasting time and money on repairs. These ideas can also help you save on replacements.
Identify Signs of Damaged Joints
Being a critical part of the steering system of the car, the CV joints naturally have special protection put in place. Since they’re also located on the bottom of the car and are exposed to dust, dirt, and moisture, a special rubber joint boot covers them up and acts as a shield. The joint boots are held in place by two very strong metal clamps.
As long as the protective boot isn’t damaged, the CV joint inside most likely won’t need any maintenance for a very long time. The problem happens when the boot does become damaged. You can tell if there’s a crack because there might be grease dripping out of the boot. The grease is used to pack the CV joint in tightly and it should be contained by the boot.
Once any type of structural damage to the boot has occurred, dirt and moisture will be allowed to enter and clog up the joint and the packing grease will escape. Due to the lack of grease, the CV joint will soon fail without the proper lubrication and corrosion caused by the foreign elements entering the boot.
Bigger damage to the CV boot can be easily identified by large grease stains on the inside of the wheel rim. Check the drive wheel and on the outside of the boot to see if you can identify any cracks, tears, or rips.
One common symptom of a failing CV joint is the popping or clicking noise that you’ll hear when turning the steering wheel. If you’re driving on a flat road and your vehicle is still acting a bit bouncy, the CV joint probably has an issue.
How to Prevent Damage
The best way that you can prevent your CV boot and joints from being damaged is to do visual inspections as often as you can. Check the boot clamps and make sure they’re still in good condition. A broken clamp can mean a damaged boot which will result in messed-up joints.
If you see greasy smears on the boot or wheel rim then you’ve got a bad boot. Have it repaired immediately to prevent further damage and a costlier replacement.
Avoid going off-road. Rocks and bumpy terrain can cause more wear and tear to break down the boot and leave the CV joint exposed.
If you were able to detect a boot problem early on, it’s a simple matter to replace it and repack the joint with fresh grease. Replacing a CV joint is a whole different story. It will take a considerable amount of labor and you’ll have to pay for the replacement.