There are several tell-tale signs that mark that an issue with the CV joint, including vibration when accelerating, a loud clicking noise while turning, or grease on the car’s wheels. Multiple CV joint repairs could be as high as $1600.
A faulty CV joint can cause various issues from clicking while turning to a loss of power available to the wheels.
It's really common for this piece to have problems, and some vehicles never require CV joint replacement. However, it does happen. One reason may be due to age. The average vehicle lasts about twelve years. After that, some parts start to go, and the repair bills can add up quickly!
Most cars should last a significant amount of time without any real CV joint issues. However, in the worst-case scenario, the outer CV joint may deteriorate while you are driving, leaving the car unable to be driven. Avoid this with regular maintenance and replacing CV joints when required.
When it comes to determining if a CV joint is bad, how it got that way, or estimating the cost of the repair, research is a good place to start. The repair is worth fixing, especially if it means leaving behind the fear of being stranded without a functioning vehicle.
This article will outline some common questions about CV joints as well as outline signs it (they) need to be replaced as well as the costs associated with doing so.
What is a CV Joint and What Does it Do?
A Constant Velocity joint, or CV joint, is used to connect your vehicle's transmission to the wheels. Each axle has an inner joint connects the transmission to the axle and an outer joint that connects the axle to the wheel.
The CV joint moves with your vehicle's suspension in any direction. This information is vital in determining the pricing of CV joint replacement.
Why Do CV Joints Break?
A CV joint note on your most recent estimate at the mechanic may have you wondering how this part broke, particularly because most cars should last a significant amount of time without any real CV joint issues.
When’s the last time you heard somebody say they had to take the car in for CV joint replacement? It’s not your typical routine maintenance by any means.
A CV joint is packed with special grease and sealed by a rubber or plastic boot that is held in place with two clamps.
The most common problem with CV joints is when the protective boot cracks or gets damaged.
Once this happens, grease comes out and moisture and dirt get in, causing the CV joint to degrade faster and eventually fail. Usually, outer CV joints break first, as they endure more movement than the inner CV joints.
Most mechanics will recommend replacing the half shaft itself (rather than intricately repairing the joint itself).
If you receive a quote for only a joint repair, it is worth asking about the cost of axle replacement as an alternative. The axle shaft is one of the key components in the car, so repairs are best left to a professional. Some mechanics want to make the work easier, but it’s bad in the long run.
If CV joint symptoms are present but ignored, it could lead to a broken-down vehicle. If you are not sure on where to go from here, you should visit a mechanic or investigate common symptoms of CV joint trouble.
Signs the CV Joint is Damaged
If the CV joint is damaged, you will notice the following signs:
- A ticking, clicking or clunking noise while driving
- Vibration when accelerating
- Steering issues
- Grease on your vehicle’s wheels, particularly around the inner edge of the tires
- Losing power to the wheels
Stating specific symptoms can help your mechanic determine the problem. For example, steering issues could be a problem with the driveshaft; however, if they occur while you are turning a corner and accompanied by a loud clicking noise, there is a problem with one or more CV joints.
If you notice some vibration when accelerating, there may also be an issue with a CV joint. It could, however, be an issue with the driveshaft. The mechanic will consider the layout of your car to ensure there are no other related issues.
Did you notice grease on your vehicle’s wheels? This indicates a leaking boot, requiring repair urgently. If grease leaks from a damaged boot, then the axle can degrade quickly, even while driving.
This is a serious issue that could leave you stranded, left with the stress and frustration of calling for tow service, waiting for the tow service, not to mention, the high cost of the tow service on top of other repairs.
How Long Can I Drive with a Bad CV Joint?
Driving with a bad CV joint is a huge risk that should not be taken lightly. If you are worried about the cost of CV joint replacement and know your CV joint is bad, you should avoid driving. The risk simply isn’t worth it in the end.
Many mechanics estimate that complete disintegration of the part takes about six months, give or take depending on driving style and when the damage is observed. This gives the car owner a little time to make the repair on a schedule that isn’t so intrusive.
However, it’s not safe driving. It isn’t recommended. It would be much wiser to get the car to a garage right away. A mechanic can scope things out. If the mechanic gives you a bit of time to make the repair, take it easy on the car until the CV joint is up and running once again.
A severely worn-out CV joint can disintegrate while driving, making the car undrivable. You could lose control of the vehicle entirely, risking both your safety and the safety of others. For this reason, driving with a bad CV joint (or two) is not recommended.
In summary, you could drive your car with a bad CV joint, but you shouldn’t. Confirm with your mechanic before driving.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace the CV Joint?
The mechanic may tell you more than one CV joint needs to be repaired. This situation can be incredibly stressful, especially when money is tight. Old cars need a lot of repairs, and rarely are they covered under recall or warranty.
A quick Internet search turns up some rough approximations.
- The parts alone range from $170 to $480 for a single axel replacement, which will be for one wheel either at the front or rear of the vehicle.
- The entire repair ranges from $300 to $1600, depending on your car, type of axel repair, and where you live.
- For those with four-wheel drive vehicles, you will pay even more to have all four-axle shafts replaced.
The variations of each make and model are what drive up the cost of CV joint repair. Not all parts are easy to find or cheap once they’re located.
For example, some repairs are single axle. Others are double axel, for either the front or rear of the car. You could even need all four axles repaired.
With the risk of driving around town with a bad CV joint, the cost of the repair may seem necessary. However, there are a few other options like DIY work (not advised) or sending the car to a junkyard once and for all.
Can I Repair the CV Joint Myself?
You might be able to fix the CV Joint on your own if you’re a mechanic, professional, or hobbyist with a garage, tools, and knowhow. If not, leave it to the professionals.
The cars axels are nothing to joke around about. If you don’t know what you’re doing, an Internet tutorial isn’t going to cut it. Take the car to a mechanic right away. The peace of mind is worth it.
If you’re hot on saving a few bucks, then consider shopping around before making the repair. Get three estimates from local garages and go with the best value (not the lowest price). You could also get paid cash for recycling your car if you call a junkyard.
Is Fixing a Vehicle with a Damaged CV Joint Worth It?
The answer to this question depends on vehicle type and severity.
A damaged CV joint for a single axle repair is not a big repair. $300 to $650 is worth the peace of mind knowing your vehicle functions properly and does not risk your safety or the safety of others. However, if a damaged CV joint breaks, especially while you are driving, that’s an entirely different story.
Zipping around the city with a damaged CV joint is a major risk. If that part breaks while you’re out on the road, then you could lose control of the vehicle, increasing the chance that you will damage property or even hurt somebody.
Economically speaking, fixing one bad CV joint for a few hundred bucks certainly beats paying out thousands for injuries or damages. The problem will be worse if there is evidence you knew about the necessary repair and chose not to make it in a timely fashion.
There are other factors to consider as well.
Is the vehicle new or new to you? Is the vehicle your daily driver? The repair is worth the investment. However, if the vehicle is old, the cost of the repair could be used as a down payment on a more reliable vehicle. The repair may not be worth the investment.
If you are unable to repair the damaged CV joint, there are other options available.
You could sell the car to a mechanic or donate the car to a charity willing to accept it.
You could also send the car to the junkyard.
Many tow truck companies know of local, reliable junkyards that offer payment for used vehicles to use for parts. Once the valuable parts are removed, the vehicle will then be recycled. The tow truck company will come to you and take the car directly to the junkyard, who gives payment in cash.
A Broken CV Joint May Not Be the End of the World
When we head into the garage, we silently hope that there are no expensive problems with the car. Who can afford the high costs of vehicle repair these days? For this reason, many people driver newer cars and buy extended warranties.
The good news: If you have to deal with a broken CV joint, you have plenty of options. If you can afford to have the damaged CV joint fixed immediately, the repair is worth it in terms of safety.
If you are unable to afford to repair the damaged CV joint, and it has not yet broken, you have some time to weigh options while continuing to drive the car, depending on the severity. During this time, you can save money to afford the repair. Refer to a mechanic before choosing to drive the vehicle, though.
If you are unlucky enough to have a broken CV joint while driving, do your best to remain calm, steer to the side of the road, and stop the vehicle.
While you are waiting for tow service, research local mechanics to determine the best price and availability. When the tow truck arrives, have your vehicle sent directly to your neighborhood mechanic.
If you decide the repair is not worth the investment for the vehicle, call a junkyard to tow away the vehicle and your worries.
At the end of the day, your safety and finances matter. Make a decision that leaves you feeling safe and secure. Vehicle repair can strike at the most inconvenient of times, but managing it correctly will save your sanity.
Don’t let a bad CV joint ruin your day.