Front-Wheel Drive? Why You Need to Keep an Eye on CV Joints
If you're curious by nature, you may wonder how it is possible to transfer power from your front-wheel-drive car's engine to the adjacent wheels whenever you turn a corner. This is made possible by using constant velocity joints, which can maintain forward motion no matter the road condition. What do you need to know about these magical parts and why it is important to keep an eye on their condition?
Coping With Conditions
Rear-wheel-drive cars are, in comparison to their front-drive counterparts, relatively simple. After all, the wheels remain in one position during motion and do not turn inward or outward relative to the drivetrain. To cope with this challenge on the FWD vehicle, engineers include a pair of constant velocity joints, one on either end of each driveshaft. Obviously, there are two driveshafts involved to the left and right of the transmission, and the joints allow these shafts to spin and provide torque, no matter the angle of the corresponding wheel.
Each CV joint is well-engineered to cope with the demands. There are two different types of joint, and the one on the innermost side has three separate legs while the outer joint is packed with special grease and fiddled with miniature ball bearings.
You don't need to worry too much about the CV joints during everyday driving, but you must make sure that they are well-protected. Each joint is covered by a plastic or rubber boot, and this is sealed tightly at either end with a pair of sturdy clamps. Make sure that these rubber boots remain in good condition as they may be prone to damage due to their location. If they do crack, then the protective grease may escape, and this can cause the joints to degenerate.
Signs of Trouble
If the CV joint starts to wear out, you may notice a vibration or a clicking noise whenever you turn a corner. If you take your vehicle to a mechanic right away in this situation, they may be able to salvage the joint by simply replacing the protective boot. However, if you let it go, you may need to get the joint replaced, which is a more substantial job and will inevitably cost more.
A mechanic will normally have a close look at the CV joints and the protective boots during a regular service. Make sure that you do not miss these important visits, and you should avoid any problems in this area.