In a front-wheel drive car, the axles are connected to the wheels with Constant Velocity (CV) joints. These allow the axle and wheel to flex as the car drives (to account for turns, uneven surfaces, and more). However, the joint itself is a weak point in the system. It needs lubrication, and it needs to be protected from dirt, dust, rocks and other debris. If the boot that seals the CV joint is damaged, the grease will leak out and contamination will set in, eventually causing the joint to wear out and fail.
A severely worn out CV joint can even disintegrate while you’re driving and make the car undrivable. You may lose control of the vehicle entirely. It is not safe to drive with a damaged CV joint. Look for some symptoms of a failing CV joint to have it repaired before it becomes unsafe to operate the vehicle.
3 Signs to Watch Out For for Driving Safe:
1. Busted Boots. If the problem is just a busted CV boot, you might be able to drive for some time before having work done. However, the longer you drive with the boot busted, the more dirt and grime contaminates the joint and the more grease leaks out. If caught quickly, you can usually just have the boot replaced, rather than the entire joint. CV boots are typically checked during regular car inspections – mechanics will always look for any signs of damage.
2. Clicking/Popping/Clunking. If you hear a clicking, clunking or popping noise from the front wheels, particularly while turning, it means the situation has progressed to the point where the CV joint is damaged. These cannot be repaired – only replaced. You can drive on a damaged CV joint for a little while, but there’s no telling how long “safe” operation will last. There are many factors, such as where you drive, the amount of dirt/dust/debris in the areas you drive, how much water gets into the joint, and more.
3. CV Joint Failure In a worst case scenario, your CV joint will fail. Essentially, this will break the axle, leaving you with a car that won’t go anywhere. If this happens while you’re driving, it can be serious, leading to a total loss of control. Try to catch a faulty CV joint before this point to maintain safe driving conditions.
If you suspect that your CV joint is damaged, it’s important to fix it as soon as possible. This is a critical component, and if it fails completely, the situation can be severe and very unsafe.