What Is a CV Joint in a Car – Importance, Possible Problems, Causes, and Fixes

When you hear that characteristic knocking or popping, you might need to start researching the cost of CV joint replacement. Nobody ever wants to have to replace any part of their car, but occasionally something breaks down and needs repair or replacement, which requires time and money.

Things malfunction as a result of normal wear and tear, accidents, or poor manufacturing. Whatever the cause, when it occurs, you want to know how much it will cost to fix it. In this instance, we’ll look at how much it costs to replace a CV joint and what your options are if yours breaks.

A CV Joint: What Is It?

Let’s first examine what a CV joint is before talking about how much it will cost to replace it. Constant-velocity joint, also known as a CV axle or half-axle, is a type of joint.

Two CV joints sit at the ends of the driveshaft: an inner one that attaches to the transmission and an outer one that is located close to the wheel. A front-wheel-drive car cannot run without a CV joint. On some driveshafts, however, of cars with all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive, there will also be a CV joint.

The CV joint is in charge of frictionally reducing the constant speed of power transfer from the transmission to the drive wheels. While supplying power, it also allows for the suspension’s up-and-down motion. They consequently improve your car’s driving experience and lessen the wear and tear on the driveshaft.

There are two CV joints, as was already mentioned, with the transmission of your car being connected to the inner joint on the inside. The outer joint is located nearer to your wheels. The outer joint, on the other hand, is located nearer to your car’s differential in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.

The joint that is closer to your wheels is the inner one. In any case, they are typically covered by a CV boot, which is a piece of corrugated rubber placed over the shaft. Inspecting the car will only reveal that.

1. A Tracta Constant Velocity Joint
Your car’s ability to move depends on the CV joint. If your CV joint is starting to wear out, you might experience some unsettling symptoms. The worst-case scenario is that your car might not even move.

The CV joint is crucial to the operation of your car. You may experience some unsettling symptoms if your CV joint is beginning to wear out. In the worst case, your car might not even move.

Classes of Most Commonly Replaceable CV Joints

There are four different kinds of CV joints made specifically for the automotive sector. They consist of;

1. Fixed or Plunge CV Joints

A plunge and fixed joint would be used in the majority of front-wheel drive vehicles. The fixed joints typically sit on the outside, while the plunge joints typically sit inside. The fixed joint operates the car most of the time, such as when you steer around corners. However, the plunge joints are more frequently used in rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

2. Ball-Type or Tripod CV Joints

The inner plunge joint in front-wheel drive vehicles can either be a ball-type joint or a tripod joint. The name comes from the fact that the tripod joins resemble a tripod with three trunnions. A spherical roller and a needle bearing would be attached to each trunnion.

While double-offset or cross-groove styles are used in ball-type joints. But tripod joints are typically more widely used and preferred for plunge-type joints.

It’s possible to use a tripod joint or a ball-type joint when installing an inner plunge joint in a front-wheel-drive car. A tripod joint, also known as a spider joint, has three trunnions. A needle bearing is attached to a spherical roller on each trunnion. Ball-type joints have a double-offset or cross-groove design. The most common kind of plunge joint is the tripod joint.

3. The Rzeppa CV Joints

Since Alfred H. Rzeppa’s invention and naming of them in the 1920s, these joints have been used frequently in automobiles. Since then, a lot of cars have used this kind of joint, which has altered the way cars operate. The outer CV joints known as Rzeppa joints are made up of an inner shell with six grooves that each guide a ball.

A substantial steel gear in the form of a star that is enclosed in a ring would accommodate the input shaft in its center. The more wheel articulation that the Rzeppa joints enable, the more angles at which your drive shaft can be used.

4. The Fixed Tripod CV Joints

Exterior joints, or fixed tripod joints, are occasionally found in front-wheel-drive automobiles. On the outer housing are mounted the trunnions. In that case, three roller bearings would rotate against the input shaft’s open tulip. A steel spider is then used to hold the joint together.

The Reasons Why CV Joints Fail

A CV joint has a few parts that make up the “joint.” a cage outside. several substantial ball bearings. an axle shaft attached to either end, an inner race holding the other side of the bearings. Shock loading is the primary mechanism that destroys a CV.

Like when a spinning wheel lifts off the ground and then crashes into the ground forcefully; something that can happen fairly frequently with an independent suspension system due to the typically constrained amount of travel. The driveline is subjected to extreme pressure from shock loading, and CV joints are frequently the weakest link.

This will result in a physical crack in the CV joint cage or, less frequently, shearing of the shaft itself. The type of condition that will bust a CV joint is evident if a 4X4 begins to bounce or hop as it climbs a hill. Although it is the biggest CV killer, it is by no means the only one. Age will wear them out as well.

Ball bearings rubbing against the case for hundreds of thousands of kilometers can wear down the surrounding material. Particularly if you’ve cracked a protective boot and thrown all the priceless grease down your wheel arch.

Additionally, they may prematurely fail if you lift your 4X4. The CV joints must operate at a greater angle when the 4X4 is higher, which increases the likelihood that they will exceed their safe working angles. Imagine it as if your camper’s tire went flat in your driveway.

Now contrast that with finding a flat tire an hour from camp as the sun is setting in the middle of nowhere. One of them you can probably handle, but the other might break you. Look at what we did there! Here, a diff drop is a typical fix. That working angle is decreased by lowering the front differential.

2. The Rzeppa CV joint
The Rzeppa CV  joint by Nutzdatenbegleiter / CC BY-SA 3.0. It is the responsibility of the CV joint to transmit power while permitting up-and-down motion. If they are hurt, their ability to do so may be jeopardized.

Larger tires are also deadly to CV joints. They were physically under more pressure because of the larger rolling diameter and the greater unsprung mass. Not to mention the improved traction that larger off-road-oriented tires offer. The effect of shock loading is heightened when a tire lifts and lands forcefully.

Symptoms of a Bad CV Joint

When the protective boot that covers the CV joint is damaged, you run the risk of not only having the lubricant that keeps it operating properly leak, but you also run the risk of getting dirt, grease, and other contaminants inside the joint, which will cause it to deteriorate even more. This can also shorten the lifespan of the CV joint and make those grinding and knocking noises you hear when driving worse.

Although CV joints can and will deteriorate over time, just like any other component of a car, it’s important to remember that almost always, when we talk about a bad CV joint, the boot has already been damaged, allowing contaminants to enter and lubricant to flow out of the joint. Even though it is extremely unlikely, the boots can be sound and intact while the joint is damaged.

When your CV joint is having issues, there are a few warning signs that will let you know. Keep an eye out for any of these, as they’ll be a good sign that your car’s CV joint needs to be repaired.

1. Your Tire Is Leaking Grease on the Inside

Since the CV joint is a moving component, grease or oil must be applied to keep it lubricated. It may leak oil if there is a tear in it or even a small crack. As a result, your wheel and tire may develop dark-colored oil or grease stains inside. There may be additional causes for this, such as a poor differential. In any case, you ought to have it checked because your wheel assembly shouldn’t normally be dripping oil.

2. The CV Joint Produces Abnormal Noise When You Drive Straight

Even at low speeds, bad CV joints can frequently produce knocking noises as you drive. Usually, the inner joint of a front-wheel-drive car has failed. In a vehicle with rear-wheel drive, both the inner and outer joints may be to blame.

Put your car in reverse, accelerate, and then brake to test this. Try it a few times and listen for the knocking sound; if you hear it, your CV joint is probably damaged. As your CV joint has to work harder to accommodate the up-and-down motion, this sound can frequently get worse if you’re driving on rough or bumpy roads.

3. Clicking or Popping Sounds While Cornering

The knocking sound is different from the popping or clicking noise, and it typically only occurs when a car is attempting to make a sharp turn. Find a clear area where you can move the car around with ease, like a vacant parking lot, to diagnose this. Next, make a complete circle while listening to see if there is any popping or clicking noise.

Your right CV joint is probably the source of the noise if it occurs when you try to turn to the right. If you attempt to corner to the left, the same holds. Remember that other components of your suspension assembly, such as the strut bar, may also be the source of the noise.

Whatever the case, popping or clicking sounds coming from a car is never normal. It is advisable to take your car to a mechanic to have the issue diagnosed if you hear strange noises.

4. Abnormal Vibrations Can Be Heard When Driving

Your car will vibrate while you’re driving if your CV joints are damaged because they can’t balance properly while your car is moving. The car will vibrate more intensely the faster you go. This poses a serious risk to you and everyone nearby because the car may become more difficult to control as a result. It will also make driving unpleasant.

Unbalanced tires and bad wheel bearings are just two examples of the many factors that can cause vibrations in a car. To identify the source of the vibration, be sure to see if all the other symptoms line up. But excessive vibration in a car is dangerous and unnatural. If you do, make sure to identify the issue and resolve it to prevent further harm and mishaps.

5. A CV Joint Replacement Reminder Through Bouncy Ride

The CV joint is in charge of delivering power while allowing for up-and-down motion. Their capacity to do so may be compromised if they are damaged. Unsurprisingly, a bouncy ride can make your vehicle unstable and put you and other road users in danger while driving.

Remember that a bad shock absorber can result in a bouncy ride. The bouncy ride, however, is probably brought on by a bad CV joint if the other symptoms listed above are present.

3. The Rzeppa CV joint
The Rzeppa CV joint by Nutzdatenbegleiter / CC BY-SA 3.0. The “joint” of a CV joint is made up of a few components, including an outside cage. multiple large ball bearings. the other side of the bearings is held by an inner race that is attached to either end of an axle shaft.

How Long After a Replacement Do CV Joints Last?

Most modern vehicles’ CV joints typically last for 180,000 miles. Therefore, if your car is close to the 180,000-mile mark and you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you probably have a CV joint issue.

Older vehicles’ CV joints, however, may deteriorate more quickly, typically at 60,000 to 80,000 miles. If a non-OEM part was used to replace your car’s CV joints, it may have a shorter lifespan and wear out after 50,000 miles.

Having said that, if the CV boot that protects the joints on your car is damaged, the CV joint may be damaged before it should be. The CV boot’s purpose is to keep debris out of the joints, but over time and with excessive dirt, the boot can crack.

The CV joints are harmed when they crack because they allow dirt to enter. They might also allow the grease to escape, reducing lubricity and increasing the risk of damage and grease leaks inside the wheel.

These figures should only be used as guidelines since any component of a car may have unintended design flaws. Your CV joint might last a lot longer, especially if you maintain it regularly and drive carefully. Additionally, it’s possible that an unforeseeable issue could significantly shorten the lifespan.

A Guide to Testing Your Car’s CV Joints

The strain placed on CV joints is substantial. This explains why they malfunction more frequently than other components and require replacement more often. The CV joints can be checked to see if they are still functional. Start by performing a visual inspection.

The CV joint is now compromised if its rubber boots are greasy because lubricants have leaked and caused this. Check to see if the boot has any physical damage as well. Next, while you’re driving, we can test the CV joints.

Rapidly accelerate and decelerate while listening for any creaking or clunking noises. The steering wheel could then be turned to the left or right. and move in a tight circle while gradually speeding up. The CV joint might have failed if you hear any loud clicks, snaps, or pops.

What Is the Cost of a CV Joint Replacement?

A broken or dysfunctional CV joint may need to be replaced, which can be expensive. The cost of the parts alone can range from about $90 to more than $200. The make, model, and year of your car, where you buy it, and the general availability of parts will all affect the final cost.

The cost of procuring parts for an older vehicle or a rarer type of car is probably going to be higher. Additionally, if your car is too old, it’s possible that finding the right part will be either impossible or cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

When it comes to replacing the part once you have it, labor costs will run you several hundred more dollars. That could cost you as little as $160 or as much as $800 or more.

Again, this wide range reflects the costs of various mechanics as well as the technical expertise needed depending on the make and model of the car you drive.

The likelihood that you will have to spend more money getting this fixed increases with the age and rarity of the car you own. That’s going to be true, regrettably, of almost any part, not just a new CV joint.

If you do need to have a CV joint replaced in your car, it’s probably best to shop around a little to get some estimates and compare prices before you commit to anything.

You have a CV joint on each end of the axle, so keep that in mind when replacing one in your car. Therefore, even though it’s possible that you will only need to replace one or the other, it’s also possible that you will need to replace both if something significant enough to damage both of them happened. If that’s the case, replacing both of these joints will cost twice as much as before, as you might anticipate.

If your car requires two CV joints to be replaced, you could end up paying more than $400 just for the parts. The labor cost will probably be slightly less since your mechanic will already be there repairing one, but you should plan to pay between $800 and $1,200 at the very least to have them both replaced.

You can expect to pay between $250 and $300 for the parts required to replace the boot if your CV joint is still in good working condition but your CV boot needs to be replaced. Your car’s boot replacement will likely cost between $550 and $650 when labor is taken into account.

Do You Need to Replace Both CV Joints?

Your car typically has two CV joints, one on each side, as was previously mentioned. Should you replace the other one as well if only one of them has become faulty? No, is the clear-cut response.

4. Representation of a Tripod CV joint
Representation of a Tripod CV joint by Martin Jediny / CC BY-SA 4.0. The tripod joins resemble a tripod with three trunnions, hence the name tripod. Each trunnion would be equipped with a needle bearing and a spherical roller.

The explanation for this is that a CV joint does not require regular replacement or maintenance as part of a maintenance schedule. You don’t need to replace a perfectly good and functional part if it’s not required as part of routine maintenance.

For instance, your car’s spark plugs might need to be changed as part of a major service. In this situation, since replacing the ignition coils is part of maintaining the ignition system, you might as well do it while you’re at it.

They deteriorate at a similar rate to your spark plugs. You reduce your labor costs in this way. Not to mention that it prevents the need to replace the coils at a later date, saving time and effort.

On the other hand, a CV joint can typically last quite a while and likely won’t break until it is close to the end of its life. If one of your CV joints is damaged, but the other one is still functional, you don’t need to replace it.

Instead, we suggest simply inspecting the CV boot; if you notice any physical cracks, you should replace the boot to prevent harm to your CV joint. Without labor, they typically cost between $50 and $100 to replace each.

Is Replacing a CV Joint Worth It?

Any driver occasionally wonders whether their car needs to be repaired. To save time or money, you can let some things slide for a longer period than others.

However, in the case of a CV joint, it is the kind of thing that demands prompt repair. Your car’s ability to be driven with a broken CV joint will only last for a short time. It will eventually literally grind to a halt, and you may also have axle damage, which will ultimately increase the cost of repair.

The question “is it worth it to replace a CV joint?” can now be answered. Yes. Not only is it necessary for the operation of your vehicle, but it is also worthwhile.

Ways to Complete s CV Joint Replacement

You can replace the CV joint yourself to save money if the replacement cost seems a bit high to you. Remember that it takes a while and that you’ll need the right tools. We don’t advise doing this yourself if you’re unsure of your mechanical ability or if you’re not a DIY enthusiast. However, if you want to try it, here is some general instruction on how to do it:

  • Place the wheels off of your car and place them on jack stands.
  • After removing the axle nut’s cotter pin, remove the axle nut itself.
  • Remove the caliper from the brake assembly.
  • Remove the steering knuckle’s outer tie rod by its bolt.
  • Take the hub’s bolts out of the strut tower.
  • Take the old CV joint apart.
  • Axle hub assembly and transmission housing should both receive the new CV joint.
  • In the same order that you removed them, refasten the assembly.

It’s crucial to remember that you’ll need the appropriate tools for this, and different cars will call for different tools. For instance, there is no standard size for the axle nut, so you must determine the appropriate socket size for your vehicle.

Additionally, it would be best to look for a tutorial video for your particular vehicle to give you a clear understanding of the procedures required to replace the CV joint in your vehicle.

We advise leaving it to the experts if you’re not entirely confident about replacing the CV joint yourself. A skilled mechanic can replace the CV joints in typically no longer than six hours.

Is It Safe to Drive with a Malfunctioning CV Joint?

We advise against doing this, especially after you notice the symptoms, as with any damaged auto component. Uncomfortable bouncing and vibration can occur in a car with bad CV joints, making it difficult to drive.

In challenging circumstances, the car may also become unpredictable. Your car’s stability is impacted, making you more susceptible to accidents.

5. The Steering wheel
The Steering wheel by Lukas 3z / CC BY-SA 4.0. To check for damaged CV joints, listen for any creaking or clunking noises as you quickly accelerate and decelerate. The driver could then turn the steering wheel either left or right. and make a tight circle while accelerating slowly.

Even if there is little damage and the car can still be driven, the issue could deteriorate as you drive. In the worst-case scenario, it might stop functioning altogether and keep your car from moving. You’ll be stranded in this situation by the side of the road and compelled to call a towing company.

Can the Cost of Replacing a CV Be Reduced?

You can save money in addition to performing the repairs yourself by switching to an aftermarket or non-OEM part. As little as $50 can buy you a pair of aftermarket CV joints, drastically cutting your component costs. Cheaper parts, however, could easily indicate lower quality, which would cause the part to deteriorate more quickly.

To avoid unpleasant surprises when purchasing an aftermarket part, make sure to read reviews. A warranty on the aftermarket component would also be a smart idea. If something goes wrong before its warranty expires, you can replace it for little to no money.

Aftercare Guidelines for CV Joints

Avoid driving aggressively if you want your CV joints to last a long time. Long-lasting and trouble-free motoring depend on mechanical sympathy. Here are our top five suggestions for avoiding a damaged CV joint:

  • Keep your tires to the largest size permitted by law in your state;
  • Avoid steep angles when lifting heavily with IFS vehicles;
  • Reverse carefully, and don’t fully lock the steering under power. During this time, a CV is most vulnerable;
  • If your tires are spinning for longer than two seconds without any forward motion, then… halt your tire-spinning and
  • When a tire lifts, avoid shock loading. Stop and reevaluate the obstacle if your 4×4 is bucking like a bull.

The Conclusion

The CV joint is crucial to the operation of your car. It is in charge of propelling your wheels while accommodating the up-and-down motion your vehicle experiences while you are driving.

The signs of a bad CV joint are fairly obvious: greasing the inside of your wheel and hearing popping and knocking noises are both indicators. Take your vehicle to a mechanic for a diagnosis if you notice any of the symptoms.

For the majority of new cars, CV joints typically fail after about 180,000 miles. However, if the CV boot is cracked or damaged, it may suffer premature damage. They typically crack as a result of normal wear and tear.

However, driving on unpaved roads and through a lot of mud can damage the boot. Every so often, you should check the CV boot to look for cracks. To protect your CV joints, you should replace the CV boot if you do notice a crack.

Because it’s a significant component of your car, replacing a CV joint can cost up to $1200. Since your mechanic must disassemble most of the suspension assembly to replace it, labor costs can be high.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can save money on CV joint replacement by performing the repairs yourself or by switching to non-OEM parts. Naturally, with a few precautions.

Given how complicated the repairs are, it would be best to leave them to a professional. Regardless of how you decide to proceed, you need to replace your CV joint as soon as it starts to malfunction. Delaying the repairs may make driving unpleasant and even cause accidents.

6. CV Joint 7. CV Joint

The Rzeppa CV joint by Nutzdatenbegleiter / CC BY-SA 3.0