Bad CV Axle Vibration: Causes, Symptoms & Solutions

May 22, 2020

Inspecting the condition of CV axle.

One of the essential components of a vehicle is the Constant Velocity (CV) Axle. The CV axles transfer power to the wheels. The power, of course, comes from the transmission and differential of the vehicles. This transfer of power, in turn, makes it possible for the vehicle to drive forward.

The CV axles have joints that are greased and flexible. They are also covered with a rubber boot. This rubber boot protects the joint from debris and dirt. These flexible joints let the axle flex and adjust to the driving and road conditions. This flexing or adjustment has minimal effect on the delivery of power. Moreover, the majority of front-wheel drive vehicles have Constant Velocity (CV) Joints. Yet, you can also find the CV joints in some rear-drive vehicles.

Since the CV axles are in constant motion and are subject to great stress, they tend to wear out fast. Hence, they require constant maintenance and greasing. They may also need replacement to make the car function well.

What Are CV Joints And How It Works?

You may know some basics of the CV joints by now. If you are not a mechanic, chances are, you may not yet have seen a CV joint. Well, the CV joints are found in the terminal parts of the axle. If you will scrutinize an axle, you will see that it bears an outer and inner CV joints. The joint that connects to the transmission is the inner CV joint. The joint, however, that connects to the wheel hub’s splines is the outer CV joint. The inner CV Joint, as mentioned above, links to the transmission.

The CV joints have splines. These splines join with the splines of the transmission. These splines, of course, have little teeth that interlock with the splines of the transmission. This creates a separable combination of components that makes the axel to turn.

The outer CV joint, however, connects to the wheel hub splines. It connects through an axle nut that is found in the rotor’s center. The CV joint gradually slides into the splines of the wheel hub, connecting the CV joint to the hub. The axle shaft, then, connects the outer and inner CV joints.

Causes of Bad CV Axle

Bad CV Axle may create inordinate vibrations when the vehicle is running at higher speeds of around 88kph. There are several possible reasons behind a bad CV axle. Here are some of the possible causes of a bad CV axle

1) Damaged Inner CV Joints

If the inner CV joints are damaged, this damage may cause vibrations when the vehicle accelerates. Yet, this damage is not easy to figure out. Why? Because it is hard to find. Moreover, you can only determine the damage once you’ve dismantled the inner CV joint and cleans it. This is usually a tiring task. This is because you need to remove the CV joint from the vehicle and cleanse it of debris and grease

The design of the CV joint, of course, is meant to last for a longer time. Yet, sometimes, moisture or dry contamination may happen to the CV joint. This, more often, causes CV joint failure. Water, for example, may seep into the joint when there is damage to the CV boot.

This may be due to wear and tear or a lack of lubrication. You should remember that the CV joints are always under constant stress. So, they are not inured to damage to their metal parts.

2) Minor Impacts and Accidents to Axle

When driving, you may accidentally hit a large pothole or fail to decelerate when you hit the curb. Such occurrences may have a minimal impact on the axles. Yet, if these impacts are repeated, they may cause little damage to the axle. These little damages may have little effects on the smoothness of your driving. But over time, they may cause the bending of the axle. In worst cases, they may cause serious damage to the axle

3) Wear and Tear

Any components that are in constant motion is subject to wear and tear. Similarly, the axles are in constant motion. Moreover, they make possible the motions of the suspension parts while relaying the power of the engine to the wheels. Hence, car manufacturers expect the onset of wear and tear in the cars they manufacture once vehicles reach 80,000 mileage. Yet, the wear and tear may also depend on how you use your car and the driving conditions in which you subject your car.

4) Worn and Damaged Axle

The axle may exhibit damage over time. This damage may cause suspension vibrations. In severe cases, this may cause feverish shaking. This shaking becomes too obvious when the vehicle revs up to a high speed. Hence, to correct this, you need to address the issues that hound the axle. If you fail to address these issues, the damages to the CV joints may worsen. The CV joints, in turn, may fail to balance themselves when rotating. Hence, the higher your vehicle’s speed, the more intense the vibrations would become. So, you need to fix the axle issues as soon as possible.

Symptoms and Signs of Bad CV Axles

When you accelerate your vehicle, your vehicle may exhibit intense vibrations and even shaking of the steering wheel. This usually happens when you go past the 88kph or 55mph. This may be due to damage to the CV joint. This happens when one of the CV joint’s balls is seized. This prevents the joint from rotating freely. In turn, this creates a binding action that upset the equilibrium of the axle. Here are some symptoms indicative of a bad CV axle

1) Excessive Vibrations

One indicator that your car has a bad CV axle is when your car exhibits excessive vibrations that originate from the axle. You experience these too much vibrations when you speed up your car. These vibrations may be indicative of a damaged axle shaft or CV joint. Any damage to these parts may offset the balance of the rotation of the axle. In turn, this will start excessive vibrations while driving your vehicle.

Yet, you will notice that the vibrations even become more intense once you speed up. This may compromise your safety while driving. Hence, you need to have your vehicle checked and the damage repaired.

2) Shaking of the Steering Wheel

You will often feel that the steering wheel is shaking when you accelerate your car. This may be indicative of a bad CV axle. You should have this issue checked before the CV axle completely breaks. Hence, you need to have your car checked so as not to aggravate the issue further. Moreover, the CV axle may totally break, rendering your car useless. It might due to the differential spider gears are not able to fully transmit the internal spinning force, which is generated from the engine to the remaining axles.

3) Difficulty of Steering

Concomitant with the shaking of the steering is the difficulty of steering. You may experience difficulty in steering once you have started to increase your vehicle’s speed. Thus, your safety while driving may be compromised. Moreover, if you don’t have your car checked, the damage may become more serious. Besides, when you make a hard turn, the axle may experience great stress that may put your safety in danger. So, you should have the car checked before the issues become hard to remedy

4) Lack of Control and Bounciness

Bounciness may be indicative of damage in the CV axle. If your car exhibits bounciness when navigating a paved road, for example, your car may have a CV axle issue. Your CV axle might be showing some signs of breaking. This bounciness may show in different ways. It may be sideways or up-and-down. This may be dangerous for you. Hence, you should have your car checked

5) Vibrations Once the Vehicle Accelerates

Many mechanics usually mistake the vibrations when accelerating with that of the bent rim or tire. They may misconstrue the real cause of the vibrations when accelerating. Your car may experience these intense vibrations when you try to speed it up.

You may feel these vibrations only when you speed up your vehicle. Yet, this vibration quickly disappears when you let go of the accelerator and maintain a cruising speed. But if you want to overtake another car, once again, these vibrations will manifest themselves. If your mechanic can’t solve this problem, you may suggest that it may be due to a bad CV axle.

Replacement Cost of CV Axle

Besides, the price of a CV axle is quite expensive for the part alone. It may be around $90 or more, sometimes up to $260 if you buy the replacement from a spare part shop. Yet, you may say that its price is very much affordable. I agree with you that it is affordable. But the cause of the repair may be further augmented with the addition of the mechanic labor’s cost.

Based on our estimation, the total cost of replacing CV axle (spare parts plus labor cost) might range from $200 up to $800 based on your car model and the spare part grade/brand.

Early detection and prompt repair of a damaged CV axle may help you avert a major accident. Early detection, likewise, will help you save on your repair expenses. Moreover, with early detection, you may not be required to replace the whole axle or joint. You should also remember that regular maintenance is better than a complete overhaul of your CV axle.

Is It Possible to Drive Your Car Even with a Bad Inner CV Joint?

One of the usual questions that I get from my readers is this question: “Can I still drive my car even with a bad inner CV joint?” Let me explain that the inner CV joints gradually fails. As the damage to the inner CV joints aggravates, the vibrations also worsen. They also become more prominent. You may be driving without any hitch for a while; the inner CV joint is breaking down. Yet, you will soon discover that the vibrations are already intensifying.

Noticing this symptom early may prod you to have your axle replaced to avert significant damage to your car. If you have the damaged parts replaced early, you can avert more severe damage to your car. If the joint is the damaged part, the sooner you replace it, the better. However, if, despite the damage, you engage in a long-distance drive, you may end up damaging the axles too. Eventually, you will need to replace the axles too. One indicator that the source of damage is in the CV joint is when you hear clunking or clicking sounds when turning your vehicle.

Different Types & Brands of CV Axle