Has your car developed a clicking sound, particularly when turning? Can you feel vibration through the steering wheel also while turning? Do you experience a feeling of driving over a cattle grid on occasion while driving normally? There is a good chance that one of your cv joints is failing.
On a standard road car, a cv joint should last many years, unless you drive up and down curbs on a regular basis.
However, there is one thing that can shorten the life of a cv joint considerably. That is the cv joint either drying out, or the grease around it becoming contaminated. This normally happens if the protective rubber boot that covers the joint has become damaged, or one of the clips that secures the boot at either end has failed or come off for some reason.
It is quite easy to check to see if the cv boot is damaged or unsecured, as long as you don’t mind looking under the vehicle. You are looking for a concertina shaped rubber cylinder that covers an area on the drive shaft of your vehicle. The drive shaft runs from the centre of your wheel towards the middle of the vehicle. Check to see if it is damaged or loose. Either means the cv joint needs replacing and a new boot fitting over it, packed with grease.
A worst case senario would be that while turning, you hear a cracking noise, and then on moving off, there is a constant rumble and/or grinding noise. this means your cv joint has given way completely. The vehicle should not be driven any further if this happens. Drivers of 4×4’s and SUV’s need to be aware of this senario, as, this is the sort of thing that can happen if you have your front differential locked and you try to steer on full lock, particularly if you are on a firm surface. It is one reason why you are advised ‘never’ to use differential lock on tarmac.
Changing your cv joint need not be a daunting operation if you are used to general mechanics. Nor need it be an expensive exercise. The easiest way to do this is to source a complete drive shaft from a junk yard, salvage yard or vehicle breakers, and replace the whole shaft in one go. Do make sure the cv boot on the replacement shaft is undamaged and it’s a good idea to unfasten one of the securing bands and squirt some new grease into the boot.
To help having go through any of the above, make sure your cv boot is checked during normal servicing, and from time to time inspect it yourself. At the first sign of damage to the cv boot, get it replaced before any damage is incurred to your cv joint. Again, replacing the cv boot can be a fairly easy exercise, you either have to remove the drive shaft to do so, or, you can purchase a kit that has a split boot, which you put in place and then glue the join to make a complete boot, however these are not as good as an original complete boot, but they will usually last for 6 months or so.