What Happens When a CV Joint Goes Rogue

If you look underneath the bonnet of your front-wheel-drive car, you'll see that a lot is going on. The engine, gearbox and transmission are all contained in this area, and the power produced by the motor needs to be transmitted across a short distance to the driving wheels. Of course, those wheels will move up and down and turn through various angles while the major mechanical parts remain static. This magic is mostly down to special parts known as CV joints, and if they are to fail, trouble lies ahead. How do you know if your CV joints are in good condition and what are the early warning symptoms, if not?

How CV Joints Work

A short stub axle protrudes from either side of the transmission casing to provide power to the wheels. These axles will be connected to the wheel hub through a special kind of joint that can transfer power at a constant speed no matter the road condition. In other words, your engine will provide the same amount of usable power to each wheel whether the vehicle is being driven along a smooth and straight road or turning a corner or in a pothole-strewn track.

Within the CV joint, you'll find a ball and socket, a lot of lubricating grease and a protective rubber sheath or boot. Depending on the design, your vehicle may have more than one CV joint on each side, and these parts are generally reliable and should last a long time.

Failure Ahead

Of course, the parts are in a very hostile environment. The protective rubber boot could sustain some damage from debris or may begin to crack due to the conditions with time. If so, some grit or dirt could get inside and compromise the part's ability to perform. As this gets worse, you may notice some strange clicking or grinding noises, especially when you turn around a tight corner. You may feel some vibration through the steering wheel as well.

In a worst-case scenario, the joint will actually fail altogether. As this begins to happen, the vehicle will start to pull to the side as the drive will only be supplied to the opposite wheel. A complete failure could lead to other peripheral damage, so you should never drive the vehicle for a distance if you suspect CV issues.

Getting Advice

Certainly, vibration, grinding or clunking noises can be traced back to other suspension parts as well. So, if you're not sure, always ask a mechanic for their help.