CV Joints, Shafts & Boots
A CV joint, or constant velocity joint, is the shaft that attaches to a car's transmission or differential, at one end, and the wheel at the other. CV joints spin the drive wheels at a constant velocity, while being able to bend in any direction. This is important because the front wheels need to go up and down with the bumps in the road, but also need to be able to turn left and right,in order to allow the vehicle to turn while supplying power to the wheels ,at the same time to keep moving the vehicle.
Front-wheel drive vehicle have CV joints on both ends of the drive shafts, also known as half shafts. Inner CV joints connect the drive shafts to the transmission, while the outer CV joints connect the drive shafts to the drive wheels. Some rear and four wheel drive vehicles, also have CV joints,in order to allow for independent suspension. There are two common types of CV joints, a ball type and a tripod type. Ball type CV joints are more commonly used on the outer side of the drive shafts, while the tripod type CV joints are more commonly used on the inner side of the drive shafts in front wheel drive vehicles.
A CV joint is packed with a grease and sealed with a rubber boot. A CV joint does not need any maintenance,only inspection, and can last very long, as long as the protective CV joint boot is not damaged. Since the CV joint is covered with a boot, over time cracks or tears can develop in the boot. If an opening in the boot is present then the CV joint is exposed to the elements, which can damage the joint. By inspecting the CV boots and shaft periodically, torn boots can be replaced as needed, potentially extending the life of the joints.
The most common sign of a worn out CV joint is a clicking noise while driving, and turning the vehicle. The noise often gets louder when accelerating in turns. Unfortunately a worn out or damaged CV joint is not repairable, and will have to be replaced.
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