Rear CV joints and axle


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Repacking of the rear CV joints is well covered in the Bentley. A copy of LoBro's repack instructions are posted in the Westy Tech Drawings site. Here are a additional few tips.

In a Syncro, first remove the skid guard. You will need the working room.

A Vanagon has the outer CV's recessed into a box trailing arm. The box collects tons of dirt, mud & rocks, none of which belong in a CV joint. Before beginning the job, wash the box out as best you can, using a pressure washer or highest pressure hose you can. Try drying or blowing out with compressed air, too, if available. Type II's are exposed and thus easier to clean.

Removal of the CV joint bolts requires a little investigation. OE used hex head socket bolts. But check your socket head cap screws carefully. While OE might be 6-point hex head, replacements and others are spline. Attempting to use the wrong bit will surely strip the head out.

Use of a hand wrench may allow them to slip and strip out the internal socket head. I actually prefer a lighter duty (3/8" drive) impact wrench or a hand impact tool as described in the TOOLS forum. This keeps the bit buried deep into the socket and less likely to work out and stip. Whichever method you use, be sure the bit has fresh and sharp edges, and you keep it fully inserted.

If you stip one out, you MAY be able to get them off with a vice-grips pliers. The outer Vanagons are not accessible enough for that trick, in which case you are probably stuck with grinding off the heads with a die-grinder and appropriate carbide bit. (They are 10.9 hardness!) I have been able to get some with a stubby easy out, but that's tricky & risky. (See hints in the TOOLS forum under "Stud removers . . .")

The rear CV joints use a flat end snap-ring to hold them on. These don't respond well to the standard snap-ring pliers with round tips. Use special pliers like Snap-On's PR40 or equivelent.

You can press rear CV joints on & off with a hydraulic press so smoothness of fit isn't as important as the front outers, but dressing with a small needle file won't hurt.

Some may try to clean out a CV without disassembling it. I DON'T agree! I fully disassemble mine so I can examine each part. Look for pits in the balls; pits, scoring or chips in the heavy inner or outer races; and any distortion or damage to the cages. Check the balls and races for signs of overheating (blue color or burned on grease).

The balls will 'snap' into the cages, but older ones won't fit that tight, which is not a problem as long as slack isn't too much. The cage is to keep them aligned, not hold them in. Reassembly can be tricky as you must manipulate the joint to its extreme range of movement to fit the balls back in. Spraying them with WD-40 or the like is fine.

Some suggest rotating CV joints from right to left axles to even wear; I think the benefit is marginal.

Most new boot kits come with 90 grams of the special moly grease and all new hardware EXCEPT the Schnoor lock washers. These lock washers are NOT reuseable and it seems nobody stocks them anymore. So special order yours WAY early (or buy enought to stock them). The new kits will have new bolts. Since there is a possibility the bolts may be one-time-use stretch bolts, use the new ones for safety. (More info on TOOLS forum under "Lock nuts, bolts & washers.)

After removing the axles, clean all of the flanges and inside the box arm on Vanagons again. Any spec of dirt during reinstallation will wipe out the CV in quick order.

I repack the rear of the CV joint first, put it on the half-shaft, then pack the front. Be sure and force grease down into the cages. I like to extend the joint to its outward limit and fill the resultant depression at the axle end as this is what will fit into the hollow of the flange as a reservoir during use. The excess then goes into the boot to be the back-side reservoir.

When repacking, I add an extra 45 grams (half a tube) of moly grease. There is adequate room in the boot. I've seen several CV's where the grease away from the joint hardened and didn't flow to the bearing surfaces; the extra can't hurt.

When repacking CV joints, don't be mislead by extra parts. The kits are often used in multiple applications and may have extra spacers, tension washers or splined washers. Follow the Bentley -- use only what's correct for your model. In fact many replacements call for elimination of a washer that may have been original equipment.

The clamps require a special pair of pliers to give them that correct anvil-shaped crimp. Be sure your crimp "ear" is located BETWEEN bolt holes or you may not be able to get a bolt in. K-D and others make these pliers at reasonable prices.

After I repack the CV joints, I like to cover them with a thin plastic "food storage" bag and wire tie. This prevents dirt from getting in the joint while I work on the other end. Or while awaiting other work before reinstallation. You can remove or cut away the remaining bag after one end of the axle is installed. Install the outers first.

Have a line-up tool handy so when you install the CV joint, you can hang the joint on the alignment tool while installing the first couple of bolts.

Since you have to rotate the axle to reach the different bolts, it's helpful to have an assistant. Mine (the Admiral) then uses a long pry bar to wedge into the wheel studs and against the shop floor while I tighten the bolts. Always use a torque wrench to the required specs. Too little, and it will come loose during driving; too much and you may strip the bolt head or be unable to get it out next time.

Final reminder, there is a right & wrong way to assemble joints, a top & bottom to the joint parts, and a correct side to face the transmission and axle flange. If you don't know which is which, get some expert help. Do not mix parts from other CV's.

If you have to force it, something is wrong. Always keep one axle assembled as a guide until finished with the other!
 
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JT

New member
just finished doing the right side of my '84 westy. next time I'm doing it on a level driveway! I kept rolling down hill. :)
I used an extra jack stand to help me hold up the unit while I got the inner cv joint bolted on. The box around the outer joint is a pain, but having very small hands helped a lot. Don't know how the guys get their fingers around to some of the bolts. :)
 
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Tim Hannink

New member
I found that if I strip a allen head or triple square CV bolt head, the easiest way to remove the bolt is to get a drill bit that is the same size as the bolt itself (not the head) and drill the head off of the bolt. Then, once you remove the other bolts, you can slide the cv joint over the stud that remains. Once tension is removed from the bolt, it will usually come out by hand. If not, you can still grab the stud with a visegrip pliers. Most cv boot kits come with new bolts to replace any that need to be removed by this method.

Tim

[Tech Tip: Try a LEFT hand twist bit on a reversible drill; often as it heats up and bites into the socket, it will begin unscrewing it.]
 
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SteveS

New member
This weekend I removed the rear axles on my '85 to grease the CV joints and replace the boots. The ball hubs on both ends of the driver's side axle show some pitting. I called VW to get replacements and they said the only CV joints they have are rebuilt and come with the boot and grease, all for $157.00 each. Of course, I just bought boots last week. Can this be true that they only have rebuilt CV joints? How can you rebuild a CV joint anyway? Does anyone know of a source for a good aftermarket CV joint if VW won't supply them?
 

sabo

New member
I just had all 4 CV joints replaced at a shop. The guy told me he gets kits made by the manufacturer who supplied the originals on vanagons (alas, I can't think of the name right now). I look on my invoice and see that he charged me $62.95 each for the kits. Sorry I can't remember the name, but you can evidently get kits and do it yourself.

[Tech Tip: It's LoBro and if it doesn't say OEM and the price is good, it's probably the cheap junk from China!]
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Steve S: I rather doubt VW would sell "rebuilt" CV joints; I suspect he meant a CV joint kit to rebuild the axle. The price is appropriate for a new VW CV joint kit. They may sell rebuilt axle assemblies with new CV joints, but not likely just the joint itself. Wouldn't make sense and to them, the risk of failure is too high. Yes, having the extra boots kits left over is a pain, but look at it this way -- you'll need them for the next repack in 30K miles. Having shelled out for new CV joints, I'm sure you see the wisdom of the repacks.

Sabo: LoBro makes VW's OE CV joints and that's a fair price for the rears -- the shop has to make something for handling them and that's about as close as you'll get for a shop-installed CV.

LoBro, TeGuFa (I'm not kidding -- it's a German company) and now Mahle appear to be supplying CV boot kits to OEM quality. I'm still partial to the LoBro and usually supplement the kit's 90 gr. of grease with another half tube. Lubri-Molly (LM) is the OE supplier.
 
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mike k

New member
hi folks

i'm getting ready to do my rear cv's (inspecting and repacking, these are the only ones on my '78 bus (not a synchro))... i was wondering if i should also repack my rear wheel bearings, reading through the manuals it looked like this would be an opportune time to do this and maybe even the brakes (they have some pad left, but i figured what the heck)? thanks in advance.
mike
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
No, the rear wheel bearings on a '78 are sealed ball-bearings and do not get repacked. The fronts are tapered roller bearings with an adjustment, thus the difference. The rears also do not get the heat and side thrust of the fronts.

CV joints do NOT involve any brake removal or adjustment thus brake repairs are an independent decision; see the brakes forum regarding brake overhauls.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Steve in CA Junior Member posted October 11, 2002 01:10 PM

Reading the info on CV joints I've gotten the idea that I'm susposed to be repacking them every 30k miles or so. I called the dealer and they said it was a repair item, not a maintenance item. Can you clarify this for me? Also, they estimate 4 to 7 hours of work for a reasonabily skilled home mechanic. What do you think?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The recommendations on a 30K repack are basically to coincide this item to the VW major maintenace service at 30K. The joint typically will go further but there have been just enough failures in the 50K range that many of us prefer not to push it to 60K even though 60K would probably handle 90% of most Westies. VW does not officially recommend this repack but you will often find it listed at dealers as an optional maintenance recommendation.

Since VW does not include it in their 30K service, it becomes a "repair" item to be ordered and paid for separately, rather than included in the package price of a standard 30K service. Nothing unusual going on here except the marketing technique by VW of keeping the standard service package small enough to encourage customers to use a dealer by leaving major "may-may not" need items out. Same as making timing belts changes on most American car services optional & by extra payment only. Typically CV repack at a dealer shouldn't exceed 2-4 hours unless they run into a stripped bolt head. It takes me 4 (for rear CVs) at home but I'm very meticulous and dissasemble each joint to inspect races & bearings.

Reasonably skilled home mechanics can and do repack CV joints on a regular basis. It takes a few special tools such as the sockets for the socket-head bolts, a special type snap-ring pliers and CV joint clamp crimpers. There are some techniques to make it easier posted above. You must buy new boot kits and Schnoor lock washers. Since the grease and new bolts are included in the kits, you are ready to go. If you get Lo-Bro (VW OE supplier) kits aftermarket, they come with an excellent set of instructions.
 
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levous

New member
I followed the posts in response to hearing the same clanking sound as described in the posts from my '85 westy (manual trans). Replacing the half-shaft (NAPA $80 + 40 core (Car Component Technologies axle)) has corrected the noise.

I replaced it the first time only to have the CV boot pop off. How, you might ask? The half-shaft comes fully assembled and only requires you grease the cv joints. The assembler at CCT forgot to install a cv boot strap. The outer cv isn't accessible without removal so... R&R again.

Second time, boot strap purchased and installed. Now the shaft won't move laterally. NAPA explained that this is because the cage was installed backwards or upside down. They have seen this before from this CV Joint re-manufacturer.

So the half-shaft should be easier than the individual cv-joint approach but check your unit very carefully (as if your half-wit brother assembled the thing completely drunk and over-tired after an all-night keg party).

Good luck and thanks to all whose posts and advice helped identify and resolve the problem (even if unexpected exceptions cluttered the way)
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Yes, CV joints do require a modicum of intelligence to clean & repack. Like doing them one-at-a-time so you have a good, working reference one to compare against. And, when all else fails, read the instructions! The Bentley rather clearly shows the inner & outer-facing sides and clear photos of the cage and assembly. It then tells you which side of the hub contacts the spline shoulder. It's also easy to figure out which side of the cage faces outward from the diagrams. Maybe NAPA's supplier just doesn't believe in reading. It's a shame you got caught with the consequences. Bet NAPA didn't offer to compensate you for your time!
 

Sleeper

New member
I've just embarked on replacing both half shafts (what the heck, >500Kkm w/o any repackings) in response to bumping noise developing in back recently. Tire changes & rotations didn't cure the prob. The spline bit for inner socket head bolts was a bit of a challenge to find. For all of you in Canuckistan, you can find a set of 12 point bits at Crappy Tire in the Lisle tools display (CDN22.-).

Thanks for your great tech dialogue Capn Mike.

Now when is that dratted the snow storm gonna to subside......
wl
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
The spline bits are available from almost all major tool suppliers -- see the TOOLS forum. This is one area I caution go for quality. If it doesn't fit well or is of poor quality, you risk breaking the bit off or stripping either the bit or the socket head screw. Both of these scenarios are far worse (and may end up costing you more) than the extra few bucks for a quality tool. Snap-On and probably others make the bit in an extended form (about 4" long) so you have a little more working room over the boot and into the cavity of the Vanagon trailing arms.
 

Steve in CA

New member
I finally got the axle nut off my 85. After soaking in liquid wrench for a week, heating with a torch, and breaking one of my socket wrenches I found the secret. Leave the wheel on and the car on the ground, then I used an impact socket (purchased on line for about $38 including shipping) with two flats ground onto it. I used my largest pipe wrench, and a 5' piece of pipe, and the socket with an air driven impact wrench. What a relief when it finally moved.
 
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Steve in CA

New member
I just finished installing new CV joints and boots in my '85. The first side I did it in the recommended way, but needed one CV with the two boots. I couldn't get the parts off so paid a shop $50, off and on. Total price ($64 per boot, $164 for the CV joint, plus $50 for labor all at the dealer) was $342. Yeow! but it gets better. The second side I did for $72 for a complete rebuilt assembly from Napa auto parts (here in Ca.) That was for new boots, rebuilt CV joints, grease, clean axle in a plastic bag. It also came with new bolts and lockwashers. I'm thinking that next time I'll just get two rebuilt axles and be done with it in an afternoon.

[Moderator Note: Many of these rebuilt assemblies from generic parts dealers like NAPA are Chinese and nowhere near the quality of OEM LoBro's. Pays your money and takes your choice (and chances). Personal opinion -- stick with the German OEM's.]
 
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PeteWalker

New member
I just replaced one rear axle because the inner CV joint was noisy. The whole (rebuilt) axle assemble was $62 plus a $75 core charge! The most hi-tech thing about the whole job was buying the correct 12-point wrench (similar to an allen wrench). The assembly has a lifetime warrenty, but if it gives me a problem, I'll add another entry to this post. I got it at O'Reilly's.
 

jake_beaulieu

New member
CV BOOT INSTALLATION

I have heard that using a clamp or zip tie to fasten the small end of the CV boot can result in a "blow out". The air in the boot heats up, expands, and if the small end of the boot is too tight there is nowhere for the air to go and the boot expands, sometimes to the point of failure. I have also heard of problems with a vacuum forming in the boot if the small end is clamped down. However, some new CV boot kits come with clamps for the small end and many folks have used them succesfully.
So, whats the deal. Clamp the small end or not clamp the small end?

Jake
82 AC Westy

jake
jake_beaulieu@yahoo.com
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Old wive's tale. Clamp! With NEW OE style crimp clamp. Not wire ties or baling wire.

I guess the Bentley, with the detailed instructions on 42.29-42.31 didn't think it needed repeating in the rear axle section. Also confirmed by Lobro (manufacturer) publication VA 4-017.
 

icarus

Moderator
Question on c.v. joint repacking.

I just had my '86 syncro in for a once over look at my shop. (clean bill of health thankyou!) Talking to my mechanic (who I trust fully, Harmony Mtr Works, Bellingham, Wa) I suggested that it was getting to be time to repack the the c.v's. He said why would you want to do that? His thought is that the biggest cost of replacement is basicly the same labor as repacking. He opines that you might just as well drive them until they give you warning that they are about to fail, then simply replace them. Given that they very rarely fail with out giving a fair amount of warning, the chances of getting stranded are slight. Obviously if you are off for 20,000km trip through the bush you might do it for peace of mind. His experiance is that, like wheel bearings, more damage is done through (poor) routine service than through wear. I think his logic is good, but I respect the opinion of others. While I have the tools and experiance to repack them myself, I have little inclination. There comes a time in life when lying under the car twisting wrenches when I can pay someone to do a better job just makes sense.

Any other opinions?

Icarus
 

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