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Your Cv joint gaiter (cv boot) worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Essential protection for joint and bearing
The drive shaft gaiter is a highly utilized component used to protect the drive shaft, the joint and the wheel bearing. It is used for vehicles with front and all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive vehicles, which have no drive shafts, are not equipped with this part.
Drive shaft gaiter function
The drive shaft gaiter encloses the point at which engine torque is transferred to the front wheels. It protects the drive shaft from penetration by dirt and moisture. At the same time, the gaiter holds the grease within it in place. This is essential to ensure the longevity of the moving parts in the bearing and shaft. Without grease, the entire unit would become damaged in no time.
Loads at the drive shaft gaiter
The gaiter permanently turns with the wheel when driving. For it to be able to also do this when taking turns, it is not smooth, but rather structured akin to an accordion. Nonetheless, especially when taking turns, it is permanently wrung out. It consists of rubber that is several millimeters thick. Yet, this can become cracked as a result of aging, weathering or damage from dirt that strikes it. Once torn, the gaiter will quickly break completely.
Detecting drive shaft gaiter defects
A defective drive shaft gaiter can easily be detected: Grease leaks and spreads across the entire joint, leaving behind a thick black film all over. At the latest when this damage symptom occurs, we must act immediately. Although changing a gaiter can require quite some effort, consequential damages that may arise from a lack of grease and invading dirt are considerably more expensive. Apart from that, grease swirling around in the vicinity of a disc brake also poses a big risk. The braking action is severely impaired if grease comes in contact with the brake disc. This can lead to the a roll-over of the vehicle.
If leakage of grease goes unnoticed for too long, damage to the wheel bearing and the gear shaft are inevitable. This will become apparent through a powerful knocking when steering and a grinding noise while driving. In this case, the repair will cost much more than had the gaiter been replaced early on.
Drive shaft gaiter replacement
Replacing the gaiter takes a reasonably talented hobby mechanic about 2-3 hours. A professional workshop with appropriately trained personnel and the necessary special tools can perform the replacement in about half the time. Replacing the gaiter requires the drive shaft to be removed and disassembled. The gaiter is fixed to the shaft by means of a clamp.
The repair involves removing the front wheel, loosening or disconnecting the joints at the steering, loosening the wheel bearing and removing everything necessary for removal of the drive shaft. Replacement of the gaiter also includes checking the wheel bearing and the toothing on the drive shaft. Some vehicles, such as the old Renault "Rapid" van are notorious for their enormous wear of the drive shaft. Normally, however, these components survive a car's life, provided regular maintenance was performed.
In the case of the wheel bearing, it is always worth considering a precautionary replacement. When the whole unit is already disassembled, the replacement of this small part is an opportunity that should not be missed. Installation of the wheel bearing, however, should be left to a professional.
The same applies to all other moving parts of the steering system: Rubber buffer, stabilizer bars and especially the tie rod ends are very inexpensive spare parts. Reinstalling parts with porous rubber almost certainly mean that the next repair measure is only a matter of a few weeks.
During reassembly, it is important to mount the tie rod ends exactly as they were prior to disassembly. Use of markings or counting the threads allows for restoring exactly the same position. If one is no longer sure about how deep the tie rods were screwed in, the vehicle must be taken for an alignment. Beware of cheap solutions The challenge in replacing a drive gaiter makes choosing a cheap solution very seductive. For example, there are split gaiters that can be placed over the existing gaiters. Then, the seam is glued together. Yet, anyone somewhat familiar with the matter knows that this can never be a permanent solution. A complete set for the replacement of an axle boot starts at 15 euros. It comes with fresh grease and all necessary fixing materials. These low prices make it unnecessary to choose dubious cheap solutions.