In all front-wheel drive vehicles, the axles are linked to the wheels with Constant Velocity (CV) joints. These let the axle and wheel to flex as the vehicle drives (to account for turns, uneven surfaces, and more). However, the joint itself is a weak point in the suspension system. It requires lubrication, and it requires to be protected from dirt, dust, rocks and other debris. If the boot that seals the CV joint is bad, the grease will leak out and contamination will set in, eventually making the joint to wear out and fail.
A greatly worn out CV joint can even disintegrate while you’re driving and make your car undrivable. You may lose control of the car entirely. It is not safe to drive with a damaged CV joint. Look for some signs of a failing CV joint to have it worked on before it becomes unsafe to operate the car.
3 Symptoms to Watch Out For for Driving Safe:
1. Busted Boots. If the issue is just a busted CV boot, you might just be able to drive for some time before having the repair work done. However, the longer you drive with the boot busted, the more dirt and grime contaminates the joint will get and the more grease leaks out. If seen quickly, you can often just have the boot changed , rather than the entire joint. CV boots are typically inspected during regular vehicle inspections – mechanics will often look for any symptom of damage.
2. Clicking/Popping/Clunking. If you are hearing a clicking, clunking or popping noise from the front wheels, especially while turning, it implies the situation has progressed to the point where the CV joint is entirely damaged. These cannot be repaired – only changed. You can drive on a damaged CV joint for a little while, but there’s no telling how long “safe” operation will continue. There are many factors to consider, such as where you drive, the amount of dirt/dust/debris in the areas you drive, how much water gets into the joint, and much more.
3. CV Joint Failure In a worst case scenario, your CV joint can fail. Actually, this will break the axle, leaving you with a vehicle that won’t go anywhere. If this occurs while you are driving, it can get serious, resulting to a total loss of control. Try to catch a faulty CV joint before this point to preserve safe driving conditions.
If you feel that your CV joint is damaged, it’s vital to fix it as soon as possible. This is a critical part, and if it fails entirely, the situation can be severe and get very unsafe.