Replacing CV Boots on both sides of front end, can I get step-by-step instructions?

Tiny
TALONLUVSWIFI
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 TOYOTA CAMRY
  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 154,000 MILES
Hi 2CarPros. I just started a mobile mechanic side business, so I haven't done every repair on a car although quite a bit. This will be my first-time doing CV boots. I'll be doing this tomorrow. Can you please give me fully detailed, step-by-step instructions with pictures as well as anything to be aware of and to look out for? I heard a jack is good in removing. I believe the control arm (suspension part) that you have to pry out. Should I have extra cotter pins in case I have to cut them off? I'm a little nervous but I have to learn and start somewhere. I really appreciate it, thanks.
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 AT 4:21 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The procedure isn't listed on our online service manuals, but that's okay. There's a much better way to go, both for you and for your customer. One boot alone is listed as costing over $66.00 from the dealer. Expect the kit with grease to cost roughly half of that from an auto parts store. Compare that to the cost of a new half shaft, complete assembly. The most expensive one from Rock Auto is only $71.00. Doesn't show if that's new or rebuilt, but I did buy a brand new one for my '88 Grand Caravan a few years ago for $65.00. Why pay just as much for only the boot, then have to go through the work of replacing it?

On a lot of imports, the inner cv joint can't be separated from the shaft. To replace an inner boot, you have to remove the outer joint and boot, then slide the new inner boot on from that end, then reassemble everything. It's a very messy job that's listed to take over 2 1/2 hours.

The steps to replace the half shafts are shown in the drawings below. Explain to your customer this will cost them less by requiring a real lot less labor time and give them a much higher quality repair. It will cost you about the same but make you a lot more profit with less mess and no special tools needed.

Note the warning at the top of the first page about placing no vehicle weight on the wheel bearing when the axle nut is loosened or removed. I've been preaching that to my students for years, but this is the first time I saw it in print.

If you're just starting out, learning on customers' vehicles is a real bad idea. Word of mouth advertising from an unhappy car owner can make for a bad reputation. Better to work in a shop first to get some experience. It isn't too hard to get hired at a new-car dealership, but it's the independent shops where you'll reach the pinnacle of success. The people there have to know all brands and models, not just the brands they sell.

A good thing at dealerships is you get factory training and you have access to special tools and information. At least up to a few years ago, there were a number of instructors who worked for Carquest to put on two-evening classes, usually eight hours total, once a month for the independent mechanics. Ours came from Chicago to northern Wisconsin each month. The instructor owns a shop that specializes in diagnosing the one out of a hundred cars no one else has been able to figure out. They network with other instructors including those who teach the manufacturer's classes. Most of his customers were other shops. Once they figured out the problem, they built a two-night class around that. The cost for those classes was $1200.00 per year as late as 2008. One of my fellow students drove over eight hours one way to attend each month. If you can get in at an independent shop that sends their employees to these classes, it will be free for you, and you'll learn a bunch.

Another alternative is to attend an Automotive Technology class at your local community college. Mine used to offer night classes in just one subject, and they had weekly night classes that were just an open shop for anyone in the community. That was to give back to the local tax payers. An instructor was always there to help and to answer questions, but there were no tests. The only requirement was to use some of the equipment, you had to be trained on it or show you knew how to use it.

If you pick a school to attend, be aware a few instructors are very rigid and will require you to work on the projects they choose. I was very flexible and allowed my kids to bring in anything related to the subject we were studying. I taught four classes per year, each eight weeks long.

As a side note, tech college instructors get textbooks every year from publishers in hopes we'll adopt them for our classes. Automotive programs can be certified by "NATEF", the same organization that certifies mechanics. One of their many requirements is textbooks can't be more than five years old. Authors will commonly rearrange a few chapters and add a little new information, then call it the next edition. The older editions are still relevant, but won't be used in class, so we often give them away. If you ask three different instructors, I'd bet at least two of them would be happy to unload a book or two to you. In this case, a Suspension, Steering, and Alignment textbook will cover cv joint and cv joint boot replacement for many different models.
Some of these textbooks cost students over $125.00 each, so grab a free one if you can.

I can't stress enough, if you try to start out in this field without working for someone else first, you'll be seriously short-changing yourself. In someone else's shop, you'll also run into a bunch of hard-working people, and there's always at least one complainer in the group. Don't let that whining and sniveling get you down. Just laugh at them or ignore them. And try to imagine how that makes the boss, manager, or shop owner feel. You'll learn what kinds of problems they have to deal with, and why they're willing to take on that grief to run a successful business.

There's also the mechanic who is protective of his knowledge, (or lack of it), and is unwilling to share it. Helping a new coworker to learn, or to finish a project correctly only helps that new guy. It doesn't take anything away from the person with the experience. Please consider in a few years being the fellow who helps the new guy get a start.

While I'm preaching, this is the perfect time to go slow and find a reputable shop to work in. In my city, we had my old Chrysler dealership, the nearby GMC dealer, the Cadillac dealer, the import dealer, and the former Ford dealer, who all worked together. We would borrow service manuals, fix each other's trade-ins, and help over the phone. The one notable exception is the Chevy dealer. He is a well-known crook. People who just have to have a Chevy commonly travel 15 or 30 miles to a dealer in a different city.

We also had one disreputable independent shop owner, but he ran out of customers in our extended community of over 100,000. Now he manages a franchise, and that shop's reputation is shot now too. Independent shops with the intent of getting rich by ripping customers off don't last very long. You want to be one of the good mechanics.

Okay, to continue, if you aren't familiar with "flat rate", you'll want to use that in your business as it's fair to you and to your customers. One page of the huge book is shown in this first drawing I posted. Think of a barber who has a set fee for a haircut. Doesn't matter if it takes him five minutes or if you come in with ten year's growth. Cost is the same regardless of how long it takes. Flat rate lists every job or additional part of a job with two time allowances. The shorter one is for warranty or dealership work. Parts aren't rusted tight yet and they know exactly which tools to grab. The longer times are for the rest of us. When you write an estimate for someone, that flat rate time will be the same as used by another shop. The only variable should be your hourly labor rate. If you gain lots of experience, invest in expensive special tools, and invest in training, you'll get the job done faster, but you still charge the same amount. You can do more jobs per day. On the other hand, if you run into trouble, or have to study a service manual, or run for parts, the customer still pays the same amount. By working for yourself, you can be under less pressure to hurry up the job.

As for your cotter pin question, don't try to do this on a daily basis out of a car. They just don't come big enough to haul everything you might need. Use a full-size van or a small truck with a box high enough to stand up in. Put a workbench with a vise in there along with a small parts cabinet. If you don't need a new cotter pin on today's job, you surely will in the near future.

I can't tell you how many times I drove 40 miles to a cousin's house to do a repair, then found I didn't have the right tool. Often I had to resort to making his $1.99 socket set work. As a professional, you're going to invest in high-quality tools with a lifetime warranty. If you break a tool, you may have to run to the store to get it replaced, but if you buy off the tool trucks, like Snapon, Matco, or Mac, they come to you, but you might have to wait up to a week. My friend who has an overgrown body / mechanic hobby shop has over 40 socket sets, all from Snapon and Matco. Every week he is investing in something new. That's been going on for over 20 years like that. Think of high-quality tools as making you money, not costing you money. Depending on where you are, consider watching for auctions where a shop is going out of business. You can pick up the same tools at a better cost, and they still have the warranty if you break one. Only problem is you'll be bidding against a lot of other people for those tools. If you spend just a little more for the same sets on the tool trucks, you'll build up good will with the salespeople, then they'll be more willing to help with problems when they can. I have all Mac sockets because they started me off with a lot of dandy discounts when I was getting started. Today I have one of Snapon's top salesmen living right across the highway from me, but he is well-known for not giving discounts. Fortunately I haven't needed to buy a tool for some time.

To build an inventory of uncommon parts that you're likely to need more than once, like oil filters, consider buying two for the next job. The second time that customer calls you back, you'll already have the parts and won't have to make a special parts run to a store first. When you use that second oil filter, buy two more the next time you visit the parts store.

I know I gave you more than you asked for. I always like to see business owners succeed. Let me know if you have other questions, and be sure to come back here with your next job.

If this job goes okay, please let me know how it went.
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 AT 6:59 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi,

Are you replacing the boots or the half shafts? To replace only the boots isn't worth the cost. You will have more in labor than the cost of a new replacement half shaft that includes new CV joints and boots.

As far as replacement, I have no idea how you could use a jack, and I don't feel it is needed. You will need to remove a tie rod and lower ball joint on each side. There are special tools for the tie rod, but you shouldn't have any trouble separating it with a heavy hammer. I use a dead blow hammer.

As far as the lower ball joint, I don't believe it will need to be removed. You should be able to turn the steering knuckle far enough to remove the axle shaft from the bearing.

Now, as far as special tools, you do need a torque wrench that can reach 217 Ft/lbs for the axle nut. Also, I can't remember exactly, but the nut is 30mm. The nut should be replaced once it is used.

Do me a favor. I'm adding the directions below. The directions include the removal and installation procedures, how to inspect the CV joints, how to replace the boots and repair the CV joints, and the torque specs.

If you are just starting out, you can make the same by simply replacing the axle and still charge the customer less money due to the difference in labor. That will likely get you more business. Additionally, the new parts usually carry a lifetime warranty, so that covers you if the new boots fail.

Take a look through the things below and let me know if you have questions. Note: The directions are extensive because they include all the things I mentioned. Before going to the site, you may want to stop at a parts store and rent an axle nut socket set and a torque wrench that can reach the torque needed. Before you reinstall the tire, double-check all torque specs and make sure to stake the new axle nut.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions or if there is anything other I can do to help you. Good Luck and I wish you a lot of success in this endeavor. And yes, take a few cotter pins for the ball joint and tie rod.

Take care,

joe

See pics below. Note: in pic 5 it says to hold the brake to remove the axle nut. If you don't have a helper, use a strong chisel or screwdriver and slide it into the rotor cooling fins and allow it to press against the caliper mount (not the caliper) to remove and retorque the nut. Also, note there are two highlighted areas in the pics. Between the two highlighted areas are the directions for removing, OH, and replacing the CV joints and boots.
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 AT 7:33 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi Joe. I couldn't find the instructions for replacing just the boots on AllData. Also, I forgot to stress the importance of proper torque on the axle nut. One kick in the pants for me. If not tightened sufficiently before the car's weight is set on the tire, it can lead to a noisy, buzzing wheel bearing.

So happy you're here to help this fellow get started.
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 AT 8:40 PM
Tiny
TALONLUVSWIFI
  • MEMBER
I really appreciate the gentle and thoughtful advice. I can't stand the naysayers when my time and schedule situation is out of my control. I'm definitely on the customer's side giving them a steal of a deal but I'm a college student and I'd like to start a good business path without additional schooling. I have really good tools besides a lift and a truck, but this is my side job and I'm happy to learn no matter how long the job takes while making a good profit. No overhead and $75.00 for most completed repairs with me coming to them free of charge I think they'd have to have a good case to make me look bad. I appreciate the warning as well as the long thought-out messages. There's a risk but I also won't get anywhere sitting on my hands hoping for something to take place either. Without dreams and goals to look ahead life gets pretty mundane so I'm happy to start my new endeavor.
Thank you, guys, so much.
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 AT 9:26 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Happy to help. You reminded me, another thing to strongly consider is writing a business plan. An old friend tried to start a body shop, after working for a very highly respected one for many years, but his business failed after two years. I wrote two of these, and believe me, it's painless.

One plan was required by my state and had to do with the $50.00 per semester we charged our students to rent a well-stocked tool. The other involved the dollars we charged customers to work on their cars.

I'm sure you'll find forms, models, or ideas by doing a Google search for "business plan". We also have mentors, other successful business owners, who volunteer their time at our local Chamber of Commerce specifically to help people like my friend get started. It's all free, but he couldn't be bothered with that simple task. Later, when he applied for a loan, he found out all the bankers wanted to see his business plan, but he didn't have one. That showed them he wasn't really serious, and was a poor credit risk.

Basically, the plan simply consists of a series of questions that you write a reply to. That reply can be a sentence or a paragraph, but those answers are intended to keep you focused when you need to make a decision. Examples that I can remember include:

1. What service or products will the business offer? Answer: Fix cars.

How hard was that?

Where will this take place? Answer: Might be, "customer's property. If you're going to work out of a building, you might include how far off the premises an employee is allowed to go to help push a disabled car, or how far they might go to recheck something they forgot, such as torquing lug nuts. Wherever they're allowed to go, they should still be covered by the business's insurance. I've gone as far as 15 miles when a coworker went home at the end of the day without telling me if he had torqued the lug nuts on a car we had teamed up on. I just had to let my manager know.

3. How much will you charge, per hour, per job, per visit, etc. What if the customer has two, three, or four different and unrelated tasks? Do you charge a flat rate for each one? Do you offer a discount?

4. How do you procure replacement parts? Do you keep a stock of popular items? Do you make a special trip to a parts store before each job?

5. What happens if you have to leave the site while the car is in a non-drivable condition?

6. Where do the profits go? The plan gets more involved when you have employees. Most employees don't realize they are always the first to get a paycheck, after the other bills are paid. If there's anything left over, THEN the business owner can get a paycheck.

Who will do the taxes? My friend tried to do that himself. Every Friday he had to shut his shop down to do paperwork. He could have stayed busy and making money if he had hired someone to do that who specializes in business taxes, and knows the questions to ask and where to find the answers.

7. Who answers the phone, especially when you're under a car trying to put the drain plug back in before the oil runs over onto the customer's driveway? Answer: I'd use an answering machine with a message that you'll return the call shortly.

8. Who pays for what when you did something wrong, or something went wrong related to what you worked on. Way too often, when a totally new problem develops, it's the person whose hands last touched the car who gets blamed.

This was a big concern with our business account that dealt with the charges for our services. We were not allowed to charge regular rates because that would put us in competition with the employers who were going to hire our graduates. Instead, we were able to buy parts at substantial discounts from the local auto parts stores, then we marked them up ten percent. We also charged ten dollars per hour for the times listed in the flat rate book. Our customers knew students were using their cars for learning exercises, and it was common to take a few days to complete a two-hour task. The dollars we charged paid for the parts, and it formed a "breakage" fund to pay for anything we damaged. Fortunately we didn't have much of that, but this had to be included in the plan.

9. What happens to profits at the end of the school year? Answer: Carry it over to next year. I got into trouble with the school when they found out my toolroom attendant took it upon himself to arbitrarily raise our hourly labor rate to $15.00 per hour. I warned him multiple times to stop doing that, but it was me who got in trouble when a regular customer complained.

For the toolbox rental, that money went to buy a new specialty tool for each of 40 toolboxes at the end of the year, and to buy tools for our tool room.

You can see how easy these questions are to answer, or how complicated you can make them. Anyone can look at your plan and know a lot about your business, but it's really meant for you, to keep you focused when a problem pops up. Almost everyone starting a business has thought a lot about these things, but that doesn't do any good until it's written down.
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Thursday, December 8th, 2022 AT 5:01 PM

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