How to tell if your CV joints are bad

Written by ezmeralda lee
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Constant velocity joints, or CV joints, are present on most every car and truck on the road today. They are expected to last at least 150,000 miles, but if they break out of their protective surroundings and are exposed to the elements, they will deteriorate much sooner. Age, extreme temperatures and erratic driving all contribute to the breakdown of CV joints and the breaking of the seal they are housed in. Both inner and outer CV joints need to be looked at, often in accompaniment of an oil change, but the outer CV joints usually have problems before the inner ones because of the angles they are faced with while driving.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Hearing clicking noises. A sure sign that your CV joints are in distress is hearing a pop or click when turning. To make sure the CV joint is the problem, put your car in reverse, turn the steering wheel all the way to one side and back up. If the pop or click increases, you need a new CV joint.

  2. 2

    Hearing a clunk when speeding up or slowing down. When you increase or decrease your car's speed and are met with a clunk, then this could be a symptom of worn CV joints. To check, drive your car in reverse, then switch between speeding up and slowing down. If the clunk gets louder, it is a sign that your CV joint has gone bad.

  3. 3

    Hearing a humming noise. If while you are driving, you notice a humming noise or something that sounds like a growl, the CV joint may be bad. This is because there is not enough oil or lubrication around the joints due to a damaged wheel bearing.

  4. 4

    Feel a shuddering when speeding up. If there is a shuddering or a vibration when the car is going faster, it could be a sign of a damaged inboard plunge CV joint. Still, it could also be a sign of axle problems or faulty motor mounts. It is best to find out for sure before proceeding with any repair.

Tips and warnings

  • Because CV joints differ between vehicles, makes and models, be sure you have the correct new CV joint to be installed in your car.

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