Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Reg Mckenna
Clack, clack, clack. That's the sound you don't want to hear when driving a front-wheel drive vehicle. The loud clacking noise you hear when turning means the constant velocity joints are shot. A bad CV joint is a serious problem that should be checked at the first sign of trouble. Unfortunately, CV joint replacement can be expensive.
CV joints sit on either end of the front axle and are connected to the front wheels. As the driver presses the accelerator, the CV joints spin, moving the vehicle. According to mobiloil.com, the parts of the CV joint spin around in a protective layer of grease. The grease is held inside by a flexible rubber boot and lubricates the joints, usually leading to thousands of trouble-free miles.
Problems occur when the boot surrounding the CV joint cracks or tears. That allows dirt and moisture in, which can damage the joint. A torn or cracked boot also causes the grease to leak out. Once all the grease leaks out, the joints can stop doing their job of propelling the vehicle. However, if you attend to the issue at the first sign of trouble, that scenario can be avoided.
If you or your mechanic find a torn boot before any damage to the CV joint occurs, it's possible to simply repack the grease, reboot and rebuild the joint. However, the joint has usually been damaged once the boot has been compromised. Some vehicle owners go ahead and replace the entire CV joint assembly along with replacing the boot instead. This is something to discuss with your mechanic.
To avoid labour costs, it's cheaper to replace a bad CV joint or boot yourself. But those who cannot do the work themselves can expect to spend £130 to £260 to have a mechanic do it, according to costhelper.com. It costs about the same to replace the entire CV joint as it does to merely replace the boot. Therefore, some people decide to replace the entire CV joint assembly instead of just the boot.
Like many automotive issues, it's cheaper to prevent CV joint problems than it is to repair them once they occur. It's a good idea to check the boots each time the wheels are removed from the vehicle for routine issues like brake repairs or tire rotations. If you or your mechanic find a small crack but the grease has not leaked out, you may get by with just replacing the boot. Finding the problem soon is the key to saving money.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Reg Mckenna