How To Repair A CV Boot
Over time with regular wear and tear, your vehicle’s CV boots are bound to become damaged. Objects like gravel, loose asphalt, nails, and other road litter can easily crack open CV boots. When this happens, the grease from inside the boot will leak out and outside moisture and grime can work their way into the boot. This can seriously damage the CV joint, and if not addressed immediately, could compromise the entire joint which is costly to replace. Instead of reaching this point, you can get ahead of permanent CV joint damage by inspecting your CV boots throughout the year. If you do notice damage to your boot, you might be able to repair it yourself before taking your vehicle in to a shop. If you catch the crack early enough, you could save yourself a lot of money.
Recognizing CV Boot Damage
If you’ve never had issues with your vehicle’s CV boots, you probably don’t know the signs of damage right off the bat. There are a few ways you can discern damage and move forward with the repair process. Have you heard a new clicking or popping sounds when you turn the steering wheel? That is likely the outer CV joint. Does your vehicle start to shake when you step on the gas or make a weird thump sound when you move the gear shifter? This is the inner CV joint, which is not as common as issues with the outer joint. Maybe you don’t hear anything at all, but instead see a tiny crack in a CV boot. When checking them out, do you see grease splattered all around the axle? Not good! In any of these instances, you’ll need to get to work sooner rather than later. Here’s how to repair a CV boot before it’s too late, so grab your tools. Note that these steps are for an outer boot, as they’re the most common.
- socket wrench
- torque wrench
- needle nose pliers
- channel locks
- shop rags
- plastic funnel
- replacement CV boot kit
- box cutter
Remove the Axle: Where the CV boot is damaged, remove that wheel and set it aside. Then, take a socket wrench and remove the axle nut from the center of the wheel, as this will help you pull the axle from the steering knuckle assembly.
Disconnect the Steering Tie Rod: Now, grab a pair of pliers, preferably needle nose ones. With these, you’ll remove the cotter pin from underneath the steering tie rod link. After the pin is removed and set in a safe spot, you can unscrew the nut with a socket wrench. Then, with your mallet you’ll hit the end of the threaded stud to break it loose. Be careful here so as to prevent damage (use a plastic mallet if you can). Once the connection is broken, take the threaded stud off.
Remove the Sway Bar Link: This step is in preparation for the next. Disconnect and remove the sway bar link rod.
Disconnect the Lower Control Arm: At the end of the lower control arm is a ball joint that you’ll need to disconnect to move on. To do this, loosen the long bolt in it and gently tap the arm with a hammer to break the pin at the end free. This pin should come out easily.
Steering Knuckle Removal: Now, you can finally get to the steering knuckle. You should be able to pull the axle from the splined hole in the knuckle. With the axle in hand, remove the rings with pliers or a screwdriver. Set them aside in order so you know how to install the new ones. Nearing the finish line!
Remove the Damaged CV Boot: You can use a pair of channel locks or a razor blade to cut and remove the old boot. Wipe off as much grease as possible without the use of solvents.
Installing the New CV Boot: Flip the new boot inside. Take a long funnel and coat it with grease, then insert the wide end over the axle CV joint. Slide the CV boot over the funnel until it completely covers it. Now, flip the boot right-side out while pulling it back towards you. Pack the CV joint with new axle grease. Now the new CV boot is ready for the final steps.
Install New Rings: Position the rings in place and pull them tight. Cut off the excess.
Remove Extra CV Boot Material: If the boot has extra material that extends farther than necessary, use a blade or box cutters to snip it off.
Putting it Back Together: Reinstall the components according to your vehicle’s recommended torque specifications. Use a torque wrench to do this. To check out your work, take your vehicle around the block to see how it runs.