All front wheel drive and independent rear suspension cars utilize a CV axle to deliver
power from the engine to the wheels. These
have a six balls inside a CV joint that acts as a universal that allows extreme movement
while delivering smooth rotational energy.
What Goes Wrong?
There are two ways a
axle will go bad. The first is the boot will tear allowing the grease to
leak out causing the joint to go dry and lose its lubricant which will make
the joint to lock up and vibrate. The second way a CV axle can fail is to break causing the car to stop moving.
How Much Does It Cost?
You can get an CV axle from Amazon or the local parts store for between
$50.00 and $80.00 (US). When taking the car in for a CV axle replacement repair
you can expect to pay between $225.00 and $320.00 (US) depending on
There is a video at the bottom of this guide showing this job being done.
Let's Get Started
You will need to
jack the car up using a floor jack and support it on jack stands. You will
then need to
remove the wheels and then reinstall them once the job is complete.
1. Remove the Axle Nut Cotter Pin
On most car's there will be a cotter pin that secures the outer axle nut from
coming off of the CV joint. Use a pair of side cutters (dikes) to remove the cotter
pin from the axle snout. There might also be a star wheel which can be removed
after the cotter pin.
2. Remove the Axle Nut
There are three methods that can be used to loosen and remove the axle nut.
The first way is what is shown by using an impact wrench which just happens to be
the easiest. The next method is to have someone hold the brakes on while using a
breaker bar to keep the axle from turning. The last method is to have the wheel on
and touching the ground before you raise the car up with the floor jack and then
loosen the nut. You will need to reverse this method to tighten the nut once the
job is complete.
This is what it looks like with the axle nut removed. Now the axle joint will
be loose within the bearing hub splines.
3. Disconnect Ball Joint
The lower control arm will need to be disconnected to allow the strut to be
pulled out enough to get the axle CV joint out of the bearing hub. To do this
you must undo the lower ball joint allowing the room for the axle removal. The ball
joint nut may or may not have a cotter pin that must be removed to disconnect
the ball joint. A ball joint nut that does not have a cotter pin is self locking
which will hold itself in place so a cotter pin is not needed. If a cotter pin is
present then use a pair of dikes to remove the pin from the ball joint.
5. Remove the Outer CV Joint
Now that the lower control arm is loose pull the spindle outward from the car
at the same time use a hammer and gently tap the end of the CV joint snout. This
will force the axle out from the wheel hub spline. This step should be fairly
easy, if the axle seems stuck use WD40 on the spline and let it sit for the few
minutes before continuing. This will loosen any rust that is present in the
spine area. Don't worry about damaging the snout threads because the axle will
be replaced anyway. If you will be reinstalling the axle install the nut onto
the axle threads three turns to offer protection to the threads.
This is how you will hold the spindle when removing the CV axle.
Some cars will have an intermediate bearing mount that will need to be
unbolted to remove the axle. Use a 12mm or 14mm socket or wrench to remove these
bolts. If the car does not have this bearing use a large pry bar and wedge it
between the transmission case and the axle and pry outward. This will pop the
axle out from the transmission and enable you to remove the axle. Grasp the axle
firmly while holding the spindle outward and pull the axle out from the
6. Match the Old CV Axle to the New Unit
Match the new replacement axle to the old unit you just removed, they should match identically. Put the
old axle in the box so you can return the core for credit if any is due. Tip:
Make sure if the old axle has an ABS stator ring ont he outer CV joint that the new axle has one as
well or the
ABS system light will be on once the job is complete.
7. Install the New CV Axle
Grasp the new axle firmly and feed it back into the transmission being careful
not to damage the transmission seal. The axle will need to be popped into the
transmission with a forward thrusting motion. It might take a small amount of
jostling to get it completely in the transmission but hang in there until the
axle in fully installed. If the axle is not completely installed it will pop out
while driving causing the car to come to a stop.
If so equipped reinstall the intermediate bearing mounting bolts and tighten
them to manufacturer's specification which is usually 22 to 24 foot pounds of
Now feed the CV joint of the axle into the outer bearing hub. You may need to spin
the hub to align the spines of the axle and fit the joint snout into the hub.
8. Reconnect the Lower Ball Joint
While holding the lower control arm down maneuver the lower ball joint stud
into the spindle and then force the control arm upward to install the ball joint nut. Use a large wrench to
tighten the nut fully. It might be difficult to get a torque wrench on the nut
so you will need to judge its tightness to about 55 foot pounds of torque and
then reinstall a new cotter pin if required.
9. Reinstall the CV Axle Nut
Reinstall the CV joint axle nut by hand to avoid cross threading and then
tighten to manufactures specification with is usually between 120 and 140 foot
pounds for torque.
Install a new cotter pin and then bend one end if it over the axle threads to
hold it in place while cutting off any excess and you are all set. Reinstall and
torque the wheel while safely lowering the car off the jack stands. When first
driving the car, listen for any strange noises which means the job will need to be
Watch the Video!
Here is the job being done by one of our mechanics on the front wheel drive car
Here is the job being done on a 4x4 truck
Got Any Questions?
If you have any
CV axle questions, please visit our forum. If you need
repair advice, please ask our community of mechanics is happy to help you and
it is always 100% free.
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