Owning a car comes with all kinds of questions and they never end and you may have a few questions about your car’s CV axle.
Have you ever wondered what a CV axle really does and why it’s absolutely indispensable?
Well if you’re here you’re probably also wondering whether you can actually drive your car without a CV axle!
While you may be able to drive on a bad CV axle for some time, driving a car without it is impossible. The CV axle transfers power from the transmission to the wheels, enabling movement. Without it, the vehicle won’t move, and erratic wheel motion can damage other components. Neglecting the CV axle jeopardizes safety.
Have you ever thought of what happens when a car suddenly stops in the middle of a busy or quiet road?
A sudden halt without your trafficator notifying a vehicle behind you may cause an accident.
Not having complete control over your car whether that’s driving without a differential, without brakes, or in this case without a CV Axle means that you may lose control of your car; hence, causing an accident.
Before we dive deeper into the reasons why driving without a CV axle is actually dangerous, let’s see what a CV axle is and what it does.
What Is CV Axle, And What Does It Do?
The constant velocity (CV) axle, also called the half shaft, transfers power from the engine to the wheels. It is made of rubber boots and a bearing.
As the engine generates power, it passes it to your vehicle’s transmission. This transmission needs the cv axle to transfer the engine power to the wheels to keep them moving steadily. In other words, the engine generates power, passes it to the transmission, and the transmission transmits it to the wheels through the axle.
The CV axle comes with two inner and outer joints connected to two rotating shafts. The inner joint joins the transmission to the axle, while the outer joint binds the axle to the wheels. The joints are capable of moving your car in any direction. So even when you hit a pothole or make a turn, the joints help maintain that motion in the wheels constantly.
The shaft is stuck in a stationary position, so the joints must continually work to move and bend these attached shafts.
The joints are used in the front wheels of many cars. While in some other cars, it is used at the rear wheels or four wheels.
Is It Safe To Drive Without A CV Axle?
It is never safe to drive without any car parts. The manufacturers placed them there for specific purposes. If they don’t seem important, they could have been ignored.
That said, people still drive without the CV axle. But if you’re doing this, know that you may one day lost control of your car. Or your car may unexpectedly, leading to an accident.
This will happen because your wheels will no longer have the strength to move anymore. By the way, what moves your car from one point to another? The wheels. Without strength in them, your car will remain immobile.
Is It Ilegal To Drive Without A CV Axle?
There are no laws regarding the use of CV axles in most states in the U.S. But that doesn’t make it okay to drive without it!
Should You Drive Without A CV Axle?
While you will not be prosecuted without an axle, you might be punished if it’s discovered you caused an accident because of it.
Accidents are never planned for, yes! But the one that happens when you could have avoided it is no longer an accident but an intentional act. So I will not advise you to drive without the CV axle intact.
Why Driving Without A CV Axle?
If you’re driving without the Constant velocity axle, it could be that
- The CV joints are faulty or damaged
- Or the entire CV axle assembly is bad
If the joints are bad, your wheels will not get the power they need to move at a constant velocity. So replacing it will be the best option. But some people tend to change the entire CV axle assembly to be on a safer side.
What Causes The CV Axles To Go Bad Or Fail?
When the CV boots are bad, the CV axles and joints will wear quickly than usual. When the boots rupture, the joint won’t have enough grease in them. Making them not get lubricated appropriately.
Water, moisture, and other road residues may also find their way into the broken boot. This way, the joints become vulnerable to wearing off quickly.
If the joints are placed in the wrong positions during the repair of the vehicle’s suspension, it could make them fail. To avoid this, ensure you put the joints back in their right position after repairs.
Every vehicle part has a period for it to function. Once it is past that time, it will no longer function as it uses to. Hence, it begins to fail.
To avoid this, have your axle changed at the right time. You could check your car’s owner’s manual as to when to change yours. Every car has a specific duration to use its axles.
Symptoms Of A Failing CV Axle
When a CV axle begins to wear out, it will start functioning in unusual ways. Below are signs that your axle is failing and might need to be inspected and fixed immediately.
You will hear a loud click when the CV axle starts wearing out due to constant use or ruptured boot. This is one of the most obvious signs that the CV axle is failing.
This clicking sound becomes very noticeable when you try to turn or when your car is running fast.
If you want to learn more about Axle noises you can check this video:
Excessive Vibration When Driving
Another sign of a failing CV axle is your car vibrating too much as it runs. Yes! It is normal for cars to vibrate when driving. But when the vibration is excessive, it indicates there is a problem.
This problem surfaces when the faulty joints find it difficult to balance as it rotates to drive the wheels.
However, others things like a faulty tire could also make a car vibrate excessively. So ensure you get your car inspected to be sure of the problem before making changes.
Greased Up Tires
When the axle fails, you might start seeing grease around the edge of your car’s tires. When you find this, it means it’s time to inspect and fix the CV axle if needed.
When the boot is broken, it leaks out oil stored in it. As this happens, the grease spreads on the wheels as you drive.
A worn-out boot would also allow dirt and debris inside and invariably damage the CV axle. Causing the axle not to function as it is supposed to.
Clunking Or Knocking Sound As You Accelerate Or Decelerate
When you try accelerating or decelerating, you will hear knocking sounds from the inner CV joint. This is an indication that something is wrong.
This knocking sound may be a result of other faulty car parts. But ensure you check the CV axle to be sure the sound is not from it.
How Long Can You Drive On A Faulty CV Axle?
You may be able to drive for about five months with a faulty cv axle. Anything longer than that might put you and others in danger. But there is still a catch.
Even the five-month period is for those living or driving in dry places and areas with less rain. But the question is, how many people live or drive in such areas?
If you live in rainy, snow, or both areas, which most people do, don’t even wait up to five months. Three months into it, try to get it replaced. Leaving it up to five months will cause more damage to the axle because of exposure to rain and snow.
This will mostly occur if the axle gets damage due to leaky boots because dirt and other debris will keep entering inside the boot, which will only get worse with time and make driving with it more dangerous.
What Will Happen When You Keep Driving With A Bad CV Axle?
I have carefully explained the duration you can drive with a bad axle giving certain conditions. But what will happen if you keep driving with it or its damaged parts?
Your car might stop moving unexpectedly. This, too, can happen anytime and anywhere. It could be in the middle of heavy traffic, an express road, or a quiet area where you can’t get help.
The car will stop because the cv joint won’t be able to do its task properly. That is, unable to transmit power from the engine to the wheels to move the car. When in this state, the car won’t move, but every other thing will be working. This action tends to cause more harm to your car’s suspension.
In other cases, you might lose control of the car due to excessive vibration and cause an accident.
This might sound like something unlikely to occur. But it has happened to many persons, leaving them injured or confused.
Instead of spending money on unnecessary things, you should replace a damaged CV axle.
When Should You Change Your CV Axle?
There are recommendations in your owner’s manual as to when to change your axle. Each car’s axle is different. So when to change one car’s axles might not be when to change for other cars. Some manufacturers recommend changing it after 4-5 years. Others say after 50,000 to 60,000 miles.
However, you can still watch out for those symptoms listed above. If you notice anything unusual, it may indicate inspecting it and carrying out necessary repairs or replacement.
How Long Does A CV Axle Last?
A CV axle can last up to five years. But if you use it well and properly maintain it, you can use it for a lifetime.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Bad CV Axle Or Its Parts?
If you notice that the CV axle is bad or worn out, you must change it. Using it like that could lead to accidents or personal injury.
It will cost between $175 – $416 to replace one cv axle of a small or medium front-wheel-driven car. It’s usually within that range. Also, note that replacing a rear half shaft is more expensive than the front because of additional labor.
If you want an aftermath CV axle assembly, it cost between $26-$9000. For aftermath CV joints, you will get it within $60-$800
Should You Replace Both CV axles At The Same Time?
If the other CV axle is working perfectly and in good condition, you don’t have to replace it. Only fix the faulty one, and you are good to go.
Can You Save A CV Axle By Replacing Only The Boot?
You can save the axle by replacing just the boot, only if you notice the boot’s leakage on time. Plus, you are sure that dirt, other debris, or water has not entered.
But if the boot has been broken for some time without your knowledge, you should replace the entire CV axle because dirt and water may have entered.
So you can ask, which option is more cost-effective? What about the availability of part and time to work on it.
Typically, replacing only a boot costs more time to fix than the entire CV axle. There are boots you can use to replace a faulty boot without discarding the entire CV axle. But you can only do it on one side. These boots are called stretch CV boots. But the issue is, it might not be as authentic as the original boots that came with the CV axle.
Yes! You can drive for some time without the CV axle intact. But I so much believe in the saying ” it’s better safe than sorry.”
Replacing a faulty or overdue CV axle in time will save you from danger and unnecessary spending.
Driving without it may cause your car to stop abruptly. A car stopping unexpectedly on a busy road might lead to others cars hitting you from behind, causing accidents. In other cases, your car might stop in a place where you can not get help.
While your car stops, other parts will still function; this action tends to affect your vehicle’s suspension.
In more severe cases, you may lose control of the vehicle because of excessive vibration. Thus, leading to accidents.
The wise thing to do is to repair and replace faulty CV axles. It will save you from accidents and uncalled expenses.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!