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Your CV Joint worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Make the car steerable
The drive joint is an integral part of vehicles with front wheel and all-wheel drive. It facilitates the double-function of the suspension. This component ensures steerability and propulsion.
Drive joint function
The drive joint is responsible for transferring torque created by the engine from the transmission to the front wheel. The drive joint is a very complex component with a variety of coordinated parts. A front-wheel drive vehicle is equipped with drive joints mounted at the transmission and wheels. The transmission-side drive joint must ensure the transfer of torque despite the drive shaft moving up and downwards. The wheel-side drive joint guarantees the transfer of torque during cornering and up and down movements.
Drive joint construction
Drive joints are essentially large bearings with an inner cog mounting of the drive shaft. The large balls of the drive joints serve the transfer of torque in the radial direction. A variety of attachment points ensure the secure screw connection with the front wheel. This ensures an always trouble-free transfer of speeds and torques.
Drive joint defects
Drive joints can take damage from incorrect operation or internal wear. This is detected when the drive joints begin to cry, crack or rattle. Drive joint repairs must not be delayed. This defect can lead to the steering locking up.
"Sporty" driving or drifting can damage the balls and bearing shells in a drive joint. This will lead to a disruption of the interaction between the drive joints' drive shaft, balls and casings. In this case, forces are no longer transferred smoothly, but rather suddenly. Thus the defect in an already damaged drive joint continues to worsen. The high forces acting on drive joints create a strong internal friction. To reduce this as much as possible, drive joints have a permanent grease lubrication. It is held in place by a rubber bellow, the so-called drive cup seal. If the drive cup seal is damaged, the grease escapes. Lubrication of the drive joint's moving parts continuously reduces. Furthermore, moisture and dirt can penetrate and damage the components through rust and grinding. Drive joint service life Provided proper operation and regular checkups, drive joints have a very long lifespan. It's also somewhat dependent of their type. Some vehicles have a higher wear on these components than others due to their design. The Rapid, a van made by Renault, was feared for its high wear to this component. However, at a mileage of over 100,000 kilometers, the need for replacement of drive joints should be anticipated.
The lifetime of these components is considerably extended, if the axle boots are regularly checked for tightness. As a permanently wrung out component always exposed to the weather, axle boots are highly stressed components. Embrittlement and damage caused by grit can quickly spread to cause complete the boot to break off completely. If this goes unnoticed for too long, the drive joint will suffer damage. In the event of a defect, these parts can't be repaired, but must be replaced completely. As soon as cracks occur or grease escapes from the axle boots, a repair must take place as soon as possible. How much do drive joints cost? The quality of drive joints depends on the chosen materials and manufacturing precision. This applies to the tolerances during manufacturing the single parts as well as to the care taken during assembly of the spare part. Neither of these factors are visible in the finished product. Yet it makes a big difference in terms of service life, whether savings were made in material and assembly, or whether the manufacturer offers an uncompromising quality. Therefore, the choice of brand products is very important with these highly stressed parts, which require labor-intensive servicing. A complete set of brand name drive joints, including axle boots, clamps and grease, costs approx. € 30. The price also depends on the type of vehicle. Replacing drive joints Replacing drive joints can be done by an averagely skilled hobby mechanic and takes approximately 2 hours per side. A specialist workshop can complete this job in about 90 minutes. This repair requires some special tools and a high level of expertise. If the tie rod is removed during removal of the drive joints, its exact position must be marked or the number of threads noted. if this is omitted, a subsequent alignment is necessary. Otherwise, the directional stability of the vehicle is impaired and the tires wear unevenly.