All FWD (front-wheel-drive) vehicles have CV joints attached to the ends of the drive shaft. These joints are of two types; the ball-type joint used for the outer CV joint and the tripod-type joint used for the inner CV joint. These joints are critical mechanical components of your vehicle’s suspension system that allows you to drive your car with ease and comfort. When any part of your inboard or outboard CV joint is faulty, it can cause CV joint noise when driving straight or making turns with your vehicle.
This fault makes driving uncomfortable and difficult. To fix this problem, you need to continue reading to know the probable causes of your bad CV joint, which will help you carry out a fault inspection. You will also get to know how to perform repairs if you need to change your boots or replace your entire CV axle.
What Causes Cv Joint Noise When Driving Straight?
When you notice your CV joint making noise when driving straight or making sharp turns, it implies that your joint is faulty but might not be wholly damaged, as there are factors that can affect your joints’ performance. Some of the causes for your joint making that squeaky sounds include;
Faulty CV boots
One of the most common issues with your CV joints is when your boots are damaged, torn, or cracked. When you have broken boots, grease will begin to leak out through the boot, and this can cause an accumulation of dirt on your joint, which can cause your CV joint to wear out a lot faster and might even fail to function as a result of the absence of lubrication and presence of corrosion. The CV joint, also being contaminated by debris, is another effect that slowly damages your joint.
Once you notice grease coming out from your CV boot through a tear or a crack, it shows that you have a broken boot or CV joint. You will see grease within your wheel rim’s interior surface and on the inside of your drive wheel area in the case of critical damage. The leakage can most often enter into various parts of your vehicle as your CV axle is rotating, including your chassis. All these cause CV joint noise when accelerating in motion or making sharp turns.
The noise increases when driving at high speed while engaging in turns. Driving with a faulty CV joint can cause your CV joint to be completely damaged.
Damaged boot clamps
Your CV boots are kept in place by boot clamps. These clamps help ensure the boots are well sealed, preventing any exposure to your CV joint. If your boot clamps are damaged, it will cause your CV boot to loosen up, allowing the accumulation of debris into your CV joint. This effect will cause an inner CV joint clunk, which will eventually lead to the formation of noises from your CV joint while driving your vehicle.
So if you notice any clunking or squeaky sound from your joint area, you should first check your boot area, the whole boot, and the clamps.
Loss of lubrication
When your CV joints are not well-lubricated, it will increase friction, preventing your CV axle from freely rotating. If your CV joints are not lubricated enough, it can cause your joints to make a noise each time the axle starts turning. This means that you will notice inner CV joint noise from your vehicle whenever you drive your car. The noise becomes louder when navigating with speed. You might not hear the noise only when driving at a low speed.
Axles used for a very long time are bound to produce steering noise or noise from their joints. You will experience this because the joints are worn out and due for replacement. This is an entirely normal case as every mechanical component will eventually need to be replaced with time. They are durable but will not last forever.
How To Fix Cv Joint Noise When Driving Straight?
Driving with a damaged CV joint can lead to hazardous situations that you need to avert. Immediately you discover any of the signs that show your vehicle’s CV joint is faulty, and you need to attend to it as soon as possible. Read our previous articles to fully understand how to tell which CV joint is bad. When you know these signs or symptoms, you will diagnose a faulty CV joint early enough, which will save you from expensive repairs.
A busted CV joint boot is mostly the cause of a damaged CV joint. If you notice your vehicle has a faulty CV joint boot on time before it hurts your joint, then you can simply change your boot and lubricate your CV joint with quality lubricants. You do not have to replace your entire CV axle or joint. Replacement of CV boot is affordable; it is not a very expensive component to purchase. New automobile CV joint boot usually comes with brand-new clamps and quality grease.
If you do not know how to replace this yourself, you will need to pay a mechanic labor fee to help you out. But in a situation where your vehicle’s CV joint is damaged. You have to replace it with a new joint. This is because a damaged CV joint cannot be managed or repaired. Most times, you can’t purchase a CV joint only. You will have to buy the entire driveshaft.
If this is your case, we will help you save labor costs by showing how you can fix your CV joint to stop that noise from getting to your nerves:
You need to put on your safety kit for this repair. This is a point we always stress when talking about automobile repairs. Once your gear is on, bring your mechanical tools box closer and turn your lug nuts about a quarter before raising your vehicle off the ground.
Most vehicles have an axle nut right on the center of their wheels, so you need to take that off first before removing the lug nuts; check if this is the case for your wheel. To do this, you need to take off the cotter pin from your axle nut, that is, if your vehicle has one. The cotter pin looks like a bobby pin with folded back ends to keep it in its position. You will have to straighten your pin’s bent ends using pliers; this will help you take it off quickly.
If the cotter pin is proving difficult to come off, then you will need to apply lubricant to enable you to yank it off.
When you remove your cotter pin successfully, you can now take off the axle nut. Please note that you need to take off your axle nut before raising your vehicle; it is much safer. Usually, the axle nut size of vehicles differs. Ensure you have a range of socket sizes to increase the chances of getting the right size for your vehicle.
It’s time to lift your vehicle. Do this by either using a car lift or a jack. Either of those options is good. Whichever option you choose, make sure you know how to use it properly. If you are using a jack, check your vehicle’s manufacturer’s manual for the recommended position to place your jack. Do not forget to set your vehicle in a park mood and engage your brake before lifting your vehicle. Then after lifting, put your car on your jack stands.
Suppose you decide to use a car lift, which is a more straightforward approach. Make sure you also check the manufacturer’s manual for the best position to fix the lift adaptors to avoid wrong placement. After lifting your vehicle, take off the lug nuts completely, then remove your wheels. Use a proper work light to help you see under your car.
When you have your wheels taken off, you will see your brake rotor and caliper. Your brake caliper housing is a large component fixed to the exterior part of your rotor. The brake caliper is held by mounting bolts, which are in a bracket. The configuration depends on the vehicle’s model. Your brake caliper is connected to your brake line, so you need to lock it at a position instead of letting it hang.
You can keep the caliper out of your way by suspending it from a short cord. This avoids stress on your brake line. If your brake line gets detached from your brake caliper, you will experience a brake fluid flow from the line. This flow will force you to start the whole process of bleeding your brakes.
Now you need to detach your tie rod from your steering knuckle. Your outer tie rod is usually fixed to your steering knuckle, which you can locate at the back of your rotor. This bolt sometimes has a cotter pin, like the axle nut. Use a penetrating lubricant on the cotter pin if it proves stubborn to come off. Your tie rod might be challenging to come off even after removing the bolts.
You can use a hammer to hit the steering knuckle where your tie rod passes through to remove the tie rod. Please do not hit the threaded part of your tie rod.
Take off the hub from your strut tower. Usually, two bolts are fixed to your hub and strut tower together. Immediately you take off the bolts, you will see that the hub is linked to only the axle through the hole in the middle. You should be able to take the hub off now easily. Note that you will have to secure your bolt’s head while unscrewing the nut. If not, it won’t come off.
Use a screwdriver or any other pry bars to pry into your CV joint. You need to follow the back of your axle, and you will notice the point where it is fixed to the transmission. Try twisting your pry bar and force the seal to brake if your axle does not immediately come off. You might notice some transmission fluid pouring out as you take off your axle; it’s normal. Place a can underneath the leakage.
You will have to slide the axle through the wishbone before you can completely remove it for most vehicles. Taking off the band from your inner boot also aids the axle to come off quickly.
Place your new CV axle into the housing of your transmission. You should do this the same way you removed your old axle.
You can use a CV joint boot clamp tool to quickly place the new axle in the same position. This tool will help a lot in the CV boot clamp tightening process. You should hear the small c-clip snap of your new axle snap when it falls in place. You should use a mallet, preferably made up of rubber, to hit the axle into position if your axle is challenging to place.
Now you will have to place the axle into your hub’s assembly center. Fix back the assemblies just the way you removed them. You can start with your hub assembly and then to your strut tower. Ensure you tighten all your loose bolts. Fix the outer tie rod back into your steering knuckle, and then connect your brake caliper. If you notice any cotter pin is worn out. Please replace them.
Place back your wheels and fix your lug nuts; tighten it a bit. After that, you can now lower your vehicle till it touches the ground. Remove the jack stands before lowering. Once your car is on the floor, tighten your axle and lug nuts.
Please make sure you know how to tell the difference between a lousy wheel-bearing bad CV joint before carrying out any repair on your CV joint. We will be able to help you out with this.
How To Diagnose A Bad CV Axle YouTube
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Can a bad CV joint sound like a bearing?
Ans: In rare cases, this happens as a result of unevenly worn-out tires. Bearing sounds are described as growling, squealing, and chirping sounds. You can easily mistake this for a bad CV joint sound defined as clicking, humming, or growling noise.
Q: What does a bad CV joint sound like?
Ans: A defective CV can sound like a loud click, popping, or clunk as the damage worsens. Frequent brake noise at low speed (caused by damage to the outer CV joints) makes grinding noises when making a tight turn at a low rate. A bad CV joint also causes a vibration felt in the steering wheel and floorboard of the car.
A worn-out CV joint also makes clunking sounds when shifting from drive to reverse; these sounds are usually deafening when accelerating in turns. You might hear cracks or breaks sound in the rubber or plastic boots around the CV joint. The car can also shudder or shake under heavy acceleration.
Q: Is it safe to drive with a clicking CV joint?
Ans: Symptoms of a badly worn-out CV joint are the clicking or popping noise when making a turn or making a sharp turn. It is possible to drive with a worn-out CV joint, but there is no confirmation that it is safe or lasts for a long time. The worst scenario will be CV joint failure, breaking the axle, and eventually, your car will not move. The clicking sound mainly represents a damaged CV joint, it is possible to continue with a bad CV joint for a while, but it is not entirely safe.
You need to know that if you continue driving with a noisy CV joint, you run the risk of damaging your entire joint. Therefore you should know how to test CV joints.
Q: How long will a CV joint last once it starts making noise?
Ans: It might be safe to drive with a bad CV joint for a period of four to five months or a little bit more than that. When approaching six months, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic’s shop to get the faulty part replaced or repaired. It is not safe to continue using the damaged or worn-out CV joint after six months.
For those living in dry areas without much rain, this period of six months might be entirely safe for them, but those living in wet areas knowing how to check a CV joint for play should not be considered an option. With much sticky mud, rain, dirt, and even snow, it will be better to know how to do this on your own if you don’t know how, visit a mechanic before this period runs out, at least the first three months.
Q: What can signify that my vehicle has a tire or wheel bearing noise?
Ans: A known symptom of a bad wheel bearing is that it is very audible. When you hear a grating or grinding noise coming from your vehicle’s wheel or tire, this is likely caused by a bad wheel bearing. Usually, this noise gets louder as your car accelerates. Most times, the growling or rumbling sound of a bad wheel bearing is often mistaken for worn-out tires. In other cases, the bad wheel bearing makes a squealing or high pitch grinding noise in correspondence to the tires’ rotation.
If these noise or sounds gets louder when your vehicle makes turns, it is not a wheel-bearing noise, but usually, the noise gets louder when you take turns towards the wheel’s direction with a bad bearing. Bear in mind that a faulty bearing will only make noise when you are driving. A lousy tire noise, however, will only change with the surface of the road.
Q: How much does it cost to fix a CV joint?
Ans: A CV joint replacement costs between $90-$220. If you drive your vehicle to the mechanic’s shop, this replacement costs between $160-$850. Market prices are influenced by the kind of replacement you want. The price will be higher if you are replacing the double or just the single axle. The older your vehicle’s model, the rarer it is, and the more expensive it will be to repair because it is not easy to find spare parts.
Q: What are the symptoms of a bad CV joint?
Ans: The most common symptoms of a bad CV joint are the clicking, popping, and clunking sounds it makes when decelerating or accelerating. Vibration when driving is also a common symptom. You might find grease on the car’s underside caused by a torn boot or leaky oil. Again, you will hear noises when the vehicle takes a turn; this is due to the CV joint becoming loose due to excessive worn. Excess vibration when the car is in motion is also a very prominent symptom.
Experiencing CV joint noise when driving straight can be very annoying and uncomfortable. That’s why you need to know how to get this fixed as soon as possible. Ensure you always take precautions when working beneath your vehicle. Check that you have placed your brakes on park mode and have exercised other preventive measures to make sure you carry out this repair safely.