Volkswagen CV Joints: How They Work and When You Should Replace Them

You may be familiar with CV joints, also known as constant velocity joints, and you might be having problems with them on your Volkswagen. That’s not at all uncommon since this part is known for issues, not necessarily because it fails from use, but because it’s prone to damage. Here’s what you need to know about Volkswagen CV joints.

CV boot

What Are VW CV Joints?

There are two types of CV joints:

1. Ball-Type

2. Tripod-Type

Every front wheels drive car has a CV joint on each end of the driveshaft. The inner CV joints connect the driveshaft to the transmission; the outer CV joints connect the driveshaft to the wheels of your VW. Most RWD or 4WD cars also have CV joints. They are necessary to transfer torque from the transmission to the wheels on your VW at a constant rate. They are also made to handle the up and down motions that travel through the suspension. In front wheel drive vehicles, the CV joints deliver torque to the front wheels during turns.

Problems with CV Joints

As previously mentioned, these don’t exactly wear out on their own, but they are a part that’s commonly damaged. CV joints are packed with a special kind of grease and then sealed with a VW boot — no maintenance is required by the vehicle’s owner as long as the boot isn’t damaged. It’s pretty common to find that most extremely high mileage VWs still have the original CV joints intact.

The problems start to occur when the protective boot is damaged. When this happens, the special packing grease will start to leak out, contaminants get in, and the eventual result is loss of lubrication leading to CV joint failure.

You’ll find that the majority of the time, it’s the outer CV joints that become damaged, leading to CV joint problems. That’s because they experience the most movement on your car. Do regular checks for cracks and tears in the protective boot. If damage is recent, there will be fluid/grease coming out of the tear — so the sooner you catch the problem, the better in this case.

Volkswagen CV Joint Failure

If you have identified that a protective boot is torn early enough, you can simply repack the grease and replace the boot. If you haven’t caught it early enough and the CV joint itself has failed, you can’t repair it - you must replace it. This can get expensive if you pay a mechanic, but it’s simple enough that most people can do it in their own garage.

Fixing it yourself will require minimal mechanical ability, a torque wrench, and a socket wrench with sockets. Be prepared to have to break the lock-nut loose and have to take out the lower ball joint as well.

Replacing a failed CV joint yourself will save you a ton of money, but it’s still not ideal to let one fail to begin with. Always check the condition of your CV joints when you’re doing regular maintenance like changing your oil and brakes; this way you can catch issues early enough to fix the boot, instead of the whole unit.