5 Symptoms of a Bad CV Joint (and Replacement Cost)

Last Updated on May 27, 2020

The function of constant-velocity joints, or CV joints, in a vehicle is to help transfer power to the wheels from your transmission. Power is transmitted at a consistent speed of rotation when there isn’t much friction.

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In other words, power from the engine is transferred smoothly to the wheels of the vehicle, no matter the angle of the steering wheel.

You will find CV joints in all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive vehicles. As for rear-wheel drive vehicles that have separate rear suspensions, the half-shafts’ ends of the rear axle will have CV joints in them.

There is a rubber boot which protects the CV joints called a “CV gaiter”, as well as an outer and an inner joint.

Top 5 Bad CV Joint Symptoms

There are certain warning signs to look out for when it comes to CV joint failure. Below are the 5 most common symptoms of a bad CV joint:

#1 – Tire Edge Grease

CV joint is bad

When you spot grease along the edge of your tire, particular from a tear or tiny crack, it could be a sign you could have a bad CV joint. A significantly damaged CV joint means darker colored grease might be visible on the rim and wheel’s interior.

#2 – Turning Causes Loud Noises

steering wheel makes noise when turning

When you turn the steering wheel and hear noises such as a clicking sound or popping sound, it’s very likely you have a broken or worn CV joint. You can test this by doing the following:

  1. Shift the gear into reverse
  2. Turn the wheel all the way to one side,
  3. Step on the gas pedal.

You will be going in a circle, so make sure the area around you is clear. As you move backward in a circle, the popping sounds should get louder if you have a bad CV joint. You’ll either have to replace the joint or the entire shaft assembly.

#3 – Bouncy Driving

slow acceleration

You likely have a faulty CV joint if you’re driving on a flat paved road and your vehicle is still bouncing around. You can verify this by going to an auto shop that repairs transmissions.

#4 – Vibrations

steering wheel shakes

A worn or damaged CV joint will vibrate while you’re driving. CV joints in this condition will not be able to balance properly during rotation. The more you accelerate, the more intense the vibrations will become.

When vibrations become too excessive, the vehicle will become more difficult to control and your overall riding experience will be impacted. This means the drive will become less comfortable and less safe for everyone in the car. The only solution here is to replace the CV joint.

#5 – Movement Causes Knocking Sounds

tire noise

A CV joint that has become worn out from being used too much will cause a knocking sound. This noise can come from the inner joint on a front-wheel drive car.

For rear-wheel drive, it can come from either the outer or inner joints. Knocking sounds can also come from the differential gears.

To perform a self-diagnosis of the joint problem, put the vehicle in reverse and accelerate, then decelerate. Alternate back and forth between acceleration and deceleration and listen for louder knocking sounds. This is proof of a bad CV joint.

CV Joint Replacement Cost

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CV joint replacement cost

A CV joint itself can cost between $95 and $210. Hiring a mechanic to perform a replacement will be between $165 and $800.

The price mainly depends on whether you’re replacing a double or single axle. The constant-velocity joint replacement cost of a double axle will be approximately twice as expensive as a single axle, with the parts cost for a double running between $150 and $400.

This makes the total cost of hiring a mechanic to perform the replacement between $230 and $1180.

Another factor is the make and model of your vehicle and how difficult it will be for them to perform the replacement job. Obviously, the more time they need, the higher the service cost.

Remember, this is a large service job, so your auto technician or mechanic must also conduct a general safety inspection, particularly of the boots and axles. When the tires have grease on them, there may be a leak from the CV boots.

Additionally, any big clicking sounds which occur as you turn will mean you may need to also replace the axle.

 

Comments

  1. Thank you I am sure of my problem after checking this site. Other problem is I pressure washed undercarriage of 2004.5 dodge ram 3500 4×4 5.9 Cummins 24 valve 48re auto transmission has olly reverse and 1rst gear

    Reply
  2. We have a 2011 Maserati Grand Tourismo convertible and it is making a clicking or tapping noise when we start moving or slowing down. It sounds like it is coming from the passenger rear wheel.

    Reply
    • Check the passenger rear tire to see if there is a rock or screw lodged in it. It may help to remove the wheel from the vehicle if you are able to. That will enable you to inspect the brakes as well.

      Reply
      • Bad vibration could be caused by many things. Make sure your lug nuts are tight, your wheels are balanced, and your alignment is good. If the vibration persists, I would have a shop look at it to figure out what’s wrong. If the vibration is really bad, don’t drive it until you know what the problem is.

        Reply
  3. My car only makes a knocking/wobble sound when I’m braking. It’s not my barkepads/Rutter’s because I already changed both 5 months back. It’s been doing this for a long time and has progressively gotten worse. Is this a cv joint problem?

    Reply
    • You’d likely feel a bad CV joint whether you were braking or not.

      I wouldn’t rule out brakes just yet. See if the new brake rotors show any signs of overheating. This usually looks like blue hot spots. Sometimes the metal or pad material looks smeared instead of uniform, and you may notice fine cracks in the rotors as well.

      If you’re not sure if the rotors have overheated, you could try feeling each brake rotor with a gloved hand to see if one is hotter than the others after driving. Be very careful if you decide to try this, as the rotors will be really hot. You may want to start by feeling the lug nuts first; they’ll still be warm, but much cooler than the rotors themselves.

      If you see any signs of overheating, you may have a seized caliper. A seized caliper won’t release completely, which causes excessive heat in the brake rotor. Brake rotors that get too hot will often warp and cause the symptoms you describe.

      Reply
  4. hi, i have had a cv joint on my 93 daihatsu applause replaced and now its starting to knock again, after only a couple of months

    Reply
  5. We have a 2005 Seibring touring that feels like driving with a flat or a wobble. I thought CV joint but I raised the car and there is no movement and no clicking noise. Any ideas to check?

    Reply
    • If it wobbles with the tire rotation in a straight line, it’s probably something to do with the brakes or tires. Check your lug nuts to make sure they’re all tight. Make sure there’s nothing interfering with the brakes. I would take each wheel off to give everything a good shake, and to see if there’s anything caught in the wheel.

      Reply
  6. I’ve got a 06 hummer h3 and pretty sure I’ve had bad cv axle because of the old popping and clunking noise it had it all of a sudden I made a sharp left hand turn to go up hill and no warning no nothing it stopped pulling so I had to be towed home I get it home..And on driver side the cv axle is out like 4 to 6 inches and grease and fluid leaking from it…would that top it from moving at all some plz help????

    Reply
  7. I have a 2000 Honda passport. I don’t quite know how to explain my problem.
    When I start out and I step on it. It catches like there is a brake on Then it jumps forward and the tires squeal and it lets loose It runs fine until I have to stop and step on it again. If I start out slow it almost never has that problem. People have said it might be the CV joints.

    Reply
    • That’s strange. Does it feel like something is binding when you step on the gas? Does it feel more like stumbling, where the car suddenly has no power?

      This seems like something that will be tricky to diagnose without having someone drive the vehicle to feel what you’re feeling. I think you should bring it to a shop to get it diagnosed as soon as you’re able to. It doesn’t sound like it’s safe to drive it that way.

      Reply

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