The outer joint has six highly-polished grooves in the housing and six in the center part, then they're mated with six precision balls that roll in those grooves. That is covered with an accordion boot that squeezes the grease back into those grooves with each revolution. Typically the boot dry-rots and splits, and the grease sprays out. Dirt and water also get in and tear those machined surfaces up. That results in a clicking noise when turning and accelerating. That is the warning clue that the joint is going to fail. It can last from a month or two to years. A joint without that wear and damage rarely breaks on its own.
The inner joint can fail in different ways too. An inspection will reveal which joint broke and why.
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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 AT 12:13 PM