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Summary
  • Your CV boot is likely damaged if you hear clicking or popping sounds, feel vibrations when accelerating, and notice grease slinging under your vehicle.
  • To replace a damaged CV boot, you’ll have to prepare the necessary materials, raise your vehicle with jack and jack stands, and remove the wheel and several other parts first.
  • A CV boot replacement typically costs around $330 to $380 including labor costs. The cost of the CV boot itself can range anywhere from $10 to $160.

Did you know a vehicle’s constant velocity (CV) joint rarely ever fails? Considering it protects your vehicle’s CV axle, that’s certainly a relief. Unfortunately, however, it’s protected by a piece of rubber called the CV boot, which can wear over time. A damaged CV boot leaves the joint exposed to dirt and water, and all that grit and water will wear out the CV joint in short order.

diagram showing cv joints of a car
Diagram showing CV joints of a car | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

When Do You Need a CV Axle Boot Replacement?

damaged cv boots inspection
Before you replace your CV boot, you have to be 100% sure it’s actually damaged. The best way is to simply take a flashlight and look at both ends of the CV axle where the boots are plainly visible (see photo). This is what a busted CV joint boot looks like. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Clicking or Popping Sound

When you hear a clicking or popping sound when turning the wheel, it most likely points to a failing CV joint. But this can happen even on CV joints where the boots aren’t compromised. Some CV joints (like on Toyota Camrys) will have 8 ball instead of 6, which changes the frequency of the popping if you’re listening for a 6-ball popping sound. So what is this popping?

Explaining the Popping Noise

6 ball cv joint with the boot removed before cleaning
This photo is a 6-ball CV joint with the boot removed before it is cleaned and inspected. It will need to be removed from the shaft before disassembly. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Some joints have a snap ring you squeeze with pliers right where the shaft enters the center of the joint. Others have a wire spring on the end of the shaft so that it snaps in place and has to be removed using a hammer with the shaft in a vise.

See also  What is a Torsion Key Lift?
photos showing the dimples the balls roll through while the vehicle is turning
This set of photos shows the dimples the balls roll through while the vehicle is turning. These are wear dimples and these are the source of the popping noise you hear. This is a 2012 8 ball Toyota Camry CV joint that started popping because it was built at the factory without enough grease. Again, the boot wasn’t even compromised on this popping joint – it wore out because of a lack of grease during assembly. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Vibrations

Several different issues can cause your vehicle to vibrate, and a damaged inner CV joint (which plunges to accommodate suspension action) is one of them. If your vehicle vibrates during acceleration, then you might need a new inner CV joint. The outer joint can cause vibrations too but outer joint vibrations aren’t as common as an inner joint. The boot may not be compromised on that inner joint either.

Grease Slinging

Check under your vehicle for any slinging grease. CV boots are supposed to keep grease from leaking from the CV joint.

, A Beginner’s Guide to CV Boot Replacement

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: Of course, if a CV boot is busted and slinging grease, you’ll easily be able to spot the busted boot unless it has a very small breach. If a boot is busted, the grease is likely to leak and create stains under your vehicle.

How To Replace a Damaged CV Boot

Replacing a damaged CV boot all by yourself is easier on some vehicles than it is on others, so be careful not to get in over your head. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

diagram showing cv axle removal
Diagram showing CV axle removal | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

First, if you have the mechanical savvy to remove it, replacing the entire CV axle is better than fiddling with a $25 boot and the band clamps, which tend to take special pliers to install.

Hose clamps don’t work well, either. Thus, most smart DIY folks and shops usually replace the whole axle assembly.

Second, you’ll most likely need some special tools to remove the CV axle. You must first remove the caliper and disconnect the steering knuckle, which can be challenging on some vehicles.

hub puller illustration
You also may need a hub puller (see drawing) to disengage the CV axle outer joint from the splines in the hub. Sometimes this is easy, other times it’s very difficult. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
illustration shows the cv axle removed from a 2012 fusion
This illustration shows the CV axle removed from a 2012 Fusion. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Other Tips for Replacing the CV Boot

Prepare the Necessary Tools

Unless you want to waste your time going back and forth from your car to your storage closet, you should prepare all the necessary tools before you begin. You’ll need a CV boot repair kit, a lug wrench, a utility knife, a brake cleaner, cutters, jack stands, and clean towels.

See also  What is a Torsion Key Lift?

Wear Protective Gear

It never hurts to be more careful. Protect your eyes and hands by wearing safety glasses and gloves. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable clothing that you won’t mind getting dirty.

Secure and Raise Your Vehicle

To replace your CV boot, you’ll have to raise your vehicle using a jack and jack stands. Look for a strong part of the frame or body under your vehicle, where you can position the jack. Then, install two jack stands on each side of the car. It’s a good idea to place them at opposite points, so the weight of the vehicle is evenly distributed.

Remove the Wheel and Other Parts First

Before you can actually get to your CV boot, you might have to remove a few other parts first. The exact procedure can vary depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model. If you aren’t 100% sure how to proceed, don’t be afraid to consult a trusted mechanic.

Remove the Old Bands/Clamps

You can use a screwdriver to try and loosen the old clamps bands securing the old boot to your car. If this doesn’t work, you can also try using cutters, pliers, or metal snips.

Remove the Damaged CV Boot

Once you’ve finally made it to your CV boot, you can use a cutter or a utility knife to cut it off. A pair of pliers or snips can also get the job done.

Clean the Joint and Shaft

You’ll want to start with a clean slate before installing your new CV boot. Take a clean rag and start wiping off any dust and debris off the shaft and bearings. Then, spray some brake cleaner until there’s no more grease or dirt left.

Install the New CV Boot

Before attaching your new CV joint, you might have to cut part of the funnel until the end only slightly overlaps with the axle. You can use a utility knife or razor blade to make a nice, clean cut on the boot. Sharp, jagged edges can prevent it from sliding smoothly on the shaft, so you might want to remove any before installing it.

See also  What is a Torsion Key Lift?

Grease the CV Joint

Don’t be shy when greasing your CV joint and bearing. Once you’ve installed the new CV boot, apply a liberal amount of grease to the joint and bearing.

Install the New Bands

To secure your brand-new CV joint, don’t forget to install its banding. The exact procedure will depend on the repair kit you bought, so be sure to follow the product’s instructions. Don’t forget to cut off any extra band.

Reinstall the Linkages and Wheels

Remember all the parts you had to remove before you could get to the CJ joint? Now it’s time to put them all back, but you’ll have to do so in the correct order. The last thing you want to do is forcibly install a part somewhere it doesn’t belong.

CV Boot Replacement Cost

If you plan on hiring a mechanic, you can expect to spend anywhere between $330 to $380 for a CV boot replacement. You can save on labor costs by performing the repair yourself, but you can still expect to pay around $10 to $160 for the CV boot itself. Usually, you can get an entire CV axle for less than $100.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Suspension , DIY Tagged With :
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