Inspecting CV joints while on the axle

UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Is it possible to do an evaluation of CV joints while they're still on the axle (and the axle(s) are still in the car)?

Working on the wife's Golf (clutch job and suspension refresh) and I have the axles disconnected from the differential, but not from the knuckles/rotors.

The reason why I'm focusing on the CV joints is because I had thought that I'd heard typical CV joint problem noises, though nothing seemed conclusive: I'm not seeing any obvious suspension issues that could have been emitting similar noises.

All boots are tear free, so no smoking gun there.

I've read that one can check for excessive play by just turning the axle(s) back and forth. I don't believe that this would necessarily be conclusive if a joint is just starting to decline.

Can I inspect w/o having to put on new boots? I'm thinking that the only way to be sure of the condition is to clean and do a visual.

Differences in approach for outers?

I'd really like to just bolt things up so I can be done with this clutch job and the suspension refresh, deal with CV joint issues at another time. BUT, since I've got things apart it seems like NOW is the time to investigate.

I've got driver's side inner and outer CV joint rebuild kits (I'd gotten these for my car and had put off this job until I got the wife's car done).
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, New Hampshiyuh, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
This is for a manual, right? The inners for the auto are different than the inners on the manual transaxle. The inner CV joints are relatively easy to do; the outers are impossible without disassembly.

The inners can be examined by just pushing up the boot, using way too many paper towels to wipe the joint clean, then see if you can see the pits in the races that usually accompany problems there. Hard to do without complete disassembly of the joint. And then, if everything is still OK, you could reassemble, reinstall on the axle, and replace the grease with new, and you'll be ready to go. You could also just swap the inners side to side and clean, reinstall, grease, and you'll be OK regardless. Or, if you are itching to use the new parts, replace with new joints and you're good to go. Whichever, you have some choices.

For the outers, I guess you can pull up the boot, but you'll not be able to do the kind of examination you want to do without disassembly of the joint.

Make it easy: for the outer, if you hear clicking from that side on a turn, then the CV joint is going bad: time to replace. Otherwise, if the boot is OK, then the joint probably is as well.

For the inner, if you get steering wheel shimmy during acceleration, then replacement (or side to side swap as hinted at above, unless you're dying to use the new parts) is called for.

Otherwise, if the boots are OK then you're fine. Look for the source of the noises elsewhere. The only way you'll get untoward play in the CV joint is if there's pits in the races, and if you have that you'll have one or both of the symptoms above. So, OK, rotational play, then go for the refit. No noises/shimmy as above, no play, then look elsewhere.

Cheers,

PH
 

UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Yeah, I've been doing a lot of reading. This is pretty messy business, figuratively as well as literally.

A problem, as I see/read it, is that you have to replace the circlips if you pop them off, and you need to pop them off in order to get the joints off (for the inners at least). Seems that these only come with boot kits.

Given that I've never felt any juddering in this car I'm inclined to believe that the inners are OK. The outers, though, can't be ruled out, though the boots are fine. I think I'm just going to put things back together and watch.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, New Hampshiyuh, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
The circlips on the inners can be re-used, just open them only enough to get them off. It helps to have the use-once-in-5-years special pliers, but it can be done.

Probably you have chosen the correct path here. Calm vigilance that doesn't drive you crazy and doesn't get in the way of your life, but warns you to check things out in a judicious time frame is always good. I'm even getting my wife to report new/changing noises to me about her NB. That is quite the victory for me, as small successes go!

Cheers,

PH
 

UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Should I look to add any grease? I'd stuffed some plastic bags over the ends and I can see that there's a smattering of grease on the bags. I realize that just a little bit of this grease can look like a lot. Not sure if introducing different grease (though still for CV use) would be worse than being a tad bit short.

I've got so many other projects going on that I really am not looking for things to do! I'm just wanting to maximize the use of my time. Controlled maintenance is easier to deal with than having to stop work on something in order to attend to an (mostly) unexpected failure.
 

Franko6

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
May 7, 2005
Location
Sw Missouri
TDI
Jetta, 99, Silver`
You still have quite a bit of work to remove the axle and refit it. It is a very dirty job and one you want to have sets of throw-away gloves. Otherwise, that grease will be with you for a week...

If the grease has become stiff, it should be removed and replaced. The inner axles usually will have a little bit of play, but the outer are usually going to be a problem if they have any play. If an axle is worn, we will often replace them, but let's face it... options for quality are LIMITED. We hate the CRAP axles and few locations fix them right.

If you see the inner joint grease is old, you can expect the outer joint to be similar. There is no decent way to inspect outer axles (and some inner axles)without removing the boot. Once removed, we replace the boot and grease. Most auto parts stores have a tube of grease. Problem is the boot kit is only a little bit more than the grease itself, and you get a whole kit.

Diesel is a great solvent for cleaning axles.

If the outboard joint is bad, it will cost more than what a 'junk' axle costs. Don't be fooled. I'd rather put a good outer axle joint in than replace with the new junk axles coming from China.

We do have a good rebuilder we use to replace the one we lost years ago. If you want to do an exchange, let me know.
 

UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Frank, yeah, I was finding that rebuilding these things yourself isn't exactly going to save much, if anything. My understanding has been that one either rebuilds them (keep the original shafts) or buys an OEM or Raxle. And, of course, rebuilding yourself is messy has heck. From what I can tell the grease in these inners is still in its basic form (not hardened).

As to my primary question, of which this thread is based, it doesn't sound practical to try and do any CV work with the axle in the car. I ran across a thread in which someone asked the question and was told that it was probably possible, though perhaps not very practical. Here's that thread, which is probably one of the best howtos for messing with CV joints: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=325413
 

Franko6

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
May 7, 2005
Location
Sw Missouri
TDI
Jetta, 99, Silver`
Bob,

You usually end up getting better boots, it's done right and you can show your fingernails as proof you did axles yourself, cause the grease will eventually wear off, when your skin sheds..

That is a great thread, but to be quite truthful, if it's not bad, just scrape off what's right on top and find some of the same moly grease to replace. The joints are durable as long as they keep greased, especially the inners.

I have personal preferences other than Raxle.
 
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