Today we are giving you a little insight on problems that arise with driveshafts, axle shafts, and CV joints. These problems can range from severe issues that will leave you stranded, to minor annoyances when you are steering in tight spaces, like around the parking lot when you are doing your Christmas shopping. The most important takeaway, though, is that these problems can be caught and repaired quickly and effectively. All you need to do is be sure to bring your car in for its regularly scheduled oil change and we inspect these parts to catch any minor issues before they become big problems.
We are talking about your vehicle’s axle, CV joint, and driveshaft components which are integral to the performance and drivability of your vehicle. The driveshaft is a long cylinder that connects your transmission to the rear differential in a rear wheel drive vehicle. In a front wheel drive vehicle, the axle shaft connects through CV joints that transfer the torque from the transmission to drive the wheels. The axle stabilizes the vehicle and bears its weight, while the CV joints allow the axle to give and bend as the wheels rise and fall on uneven surfaces.
“CV” stands for “Constant Velocity” which is a more supple and smooth design compared to old universal joints found on rear drive cars with their driveshafts. The CV joints can twist at a much more severe angle (ie tighter turning radius) without any vibration.
This is something that you will feel right away when you are driving in tight spaces like a parking lot. When you turn the wheel sharply and you accelerate you will hear a clacking noise. This is almost always caused by a small crack or tear in the CV joint boot that has allowed dirt to get in the joint and start drying it out. When the joint is completely worn out/dried out it will fail completely and your car will need a tow to the shop for repair. When we catch it early we can just replace the boot and re-grease the CV joint, but if the joint is completely worn out we are forced to replace the whole axle shaft.
Your vehicle’s CV joints are made up of ball bearings and knuckles that need to be packed with grease to function properly. To keep them away from the elements they are surrounded by an accordion boot to keep the lubricating grease on the inside and protect from water and dirt. When the accordion boot cracks the grease leaks out and water, dirt, and grime gets in.
The number one piece of preventative maintenance you can do for your vehicle is bring your car in for an oil change every 6 months. When you do, we complete a full inspection and we can catch problems like this early enough to keep your car from standing you at the worst possible time. This is especially important as the weather becomes more severe and our holiday appointments are the most urgent.
You probably won’t see these problems before 150,000 kms, depending on climate, temperature, and driving patterns. But when your vehicle is in for its next service we will be on the lookout to save you from this headache later. Be in touch if your regular maintenance is due soon and we can get your car in shape for the busy holiday season.