In a front-wheel drive vehicle, the axles are linked to the wheels with Constant Velocity (CV) joints. This lets the axle and wheel to flex as the vehicle drives (to account for turns, uneven surfaces, and many more). However, the joint itself is a weak point in the system. It requires lubrication, and it has 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 occur, eventually making the joint to wear out and fail.
A severely worn out CV joint may even disintegrate while you’re driving and make the vehicle undrivable. You may lose control of the car entirely. It is not safe to drive with a damaged CV joint. Look out for some symptoms of a failing CV joint to have it fixed before it becomes unsafe to operate the vehicle.
2 What are Signs to Watch Out For for Driving Safe:
- Busted Boots.If the issue is just a busted CV boot, you might be able to drive for some time before having work performed on it. 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 often just have the boot changed, instead of the entire joint. CV boots are typically inspected during regular car inspections – mechanics will always look for any indications of damage.
- Clicking/Popping/Clunking.If you observe 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 damaged. These cannot be repaired – only changed. You can drive on a damaged CV joint for a little while, but there’s no saying how long “safe” operation will last. 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 geos into the joint, and more.
- CV Joint FailureIn a worst case scenario, your CV joint will fail. Essentially, this will break the axle, leaving you with a vehicle that won’t go anywhere. If this occurs while you’re driving, it can get serious, resulting to a total loss of control. Try to catch a faulty CV joint before it gets to this point to maintain safe driving conditions.
If you feel that your CV joint is damaged, it is vital to fix it as soon as possible. This is a critical part, and if it fails completely, the situation can get severe and very unsafe.