If you hear a clicking noise while driving, it might be from a broken or worn cv joint or axle. Some cv joint noises also include clunking. If you hear clunking or clicking noises during your drive, we’ll explain why a cv joint does this, how to prevent it, and how to fix it.
Bad CV Axle Symptoms
Grease Markings Around the Axle or Wheel Knuckle
If grease has sprayed all over the underside of the vehicle and behind the wheel knuckle, it might be from a torn cv axle boot. Sometimes these boots can tear from age and use, outside elements and debris, broken boot clamps, or even a mishap during a repair. When that happens, it creates an opportunity for grease to escape.
Repetitive Clicking or Clunking Noise While Driving
If while driving you hear a repetitive clicking or clunking sound that speeds up as the car drives faster, it could also mean there is a bad cv joint. CV joints can bind from dirt and debris sneaking inside, creating a clunking or clicking sound.
Shaking Steering Wheel
If the axle uses a type of boot clamp that has a little bit of weight to it and the boot clamp loosens or breaks, this additional weight can affect the balance of the cv axle. An off-balanced axle will likely manifest as a shake in the steering wheel.
What Causes a CV Joint to Wear?
Worn or Torn Axle or CV Joint Boots
Debris like dirt can sneak inside a torn axle or cv joint boot and find its way to the inner bearings. Dirt can bind the bearings up and if combined with moisture can seize them over time.
Binded or Seized Bearings
The bearings inside axle boots and cv joint boots give the axle flexibility when it comes to movement and turning. If dirt and debris manage to sneak inside or components like grease manage to escape, the bearings can bind up, creating a clicking sound from a lack of smooth functioning.
The Axle Separates
A separated axle is an axle that has a cv joint separated from its normal position. This can happen if the knuckle is pulled down and away with the axle attached, for example, potentially pulling the inner cv joint out of its position. It can also go unnoticed since the cv joint and connecting shaft sit inside of a rubber boot—That’s why if moving the knuckle during front-end work, you want to loosen the axle nut and push the axle shaft through the wheel bearing to create extra slack. If the axle does separate, it can usually be pressed back into place, but this depends on how far it has separated, as it can be difficult to press the cv axle joint back in based on the way they are designed and with grease and a boot covering it.
How to Replace an Axle Yourself
If the cv joint boot is broken and the internal damage to the joints isn’t too bad, the boot and its clamps can be replaced, but it’s usually much easier and less time consuming to replace the entire axle with a new one.