How Toyota CV Joints Work

The CV joints: Hopefully you’re not having any trouble with them, and if you are, you’re not alone. This part is common for having problems, not necessarily related to premature failure, but damage. If you’re wondering if your Toyota is having some CV joint issues, or maybe you’d like to understand how they work, this guide is for you. Here’s what you need to know about CV joints, why they fail, and what it takes to replace them. 

Toyota CV joint

What Are Toyota CV Joints?

Automotive CV joints come in two different flavors:

  1. Ball-type
  2. Tri-pod type

Every front-wheel-drive vehicle you see has a CV joint on each end of the driveshaft. The inner CV joint connects the driveshaft to the transmission, and the outer joint connects the driveshaft to the wheels. Rear-wheel vehicles and 4WD vehicles also have CV joints. They serve the purpose of transferring the torque from the transmission to the wheels on your Toyota at a constant speed. They also handle the up and down motions of travel through the suspension. In front-wheel drive Toyotas, the CV joints deliver torque to the front wheels when the vehicle is turning.

The Problem With CV Joints

As mentioned prior, these parts are prone to failure, but it’s rarely an issue of quality. For the most part, they require no special service, and can stay on your Toyota for the life of your vehicle — many high milage Toyotas still have their original CV joints. They are packed with a special kind of grease, and then sealed with a protective boot —  and here’s where people sometimes run into problems. The boot can be somewhat easily damaged, regardless of how old the vehicle may be.

Once the protective CV joint boot is damaged, the special packing grease will begin to leak out, leading to dryness that’s going to cause eventual failure. The other side of the issue is containments making their way in and damaging the system.

For the most part, it’s the outer CV joint boot that will become damaged, leading to the mentioned problems — this is because they experience the most movement. Check for cracks and tears on the boot while you’re changing the oil, and you should catch any problems ahead of major damage. If you find a crack or tear, you’ll be able to tell if it’s a recent problem because it will have a fair amount of fluid/grease coming from the tear.

Repairing CV Joints

If you catch damage to the boot early enough, you can usually get away with simply repacking the grease and replacing the boot — making the repair far cheaper than the alternative. However, if the CV joint has been damaged, you cannot simply repair it, you have to replace the entire part.

Normally, this would be an extremely pricey job if done through a mechanic, but the part itself isn’t very expensive. This is why a lot of people choose to replace it themselves, and it’s really not very difficult. To fix it yourself, you’ll need a torque wrench and sockets to break the main CV joint lock-nut loose and be prepared to have to take out the lower ball joint as well. From there, it’s a matter of following your repair manual, it should only take a few hours.

As with all important parts of your Toyota, only use a genuine OE part to replace it. Don’t choose a cheap aftermarket replacement on such a vital part of your suspension, it could result in premature failure or damage to the surrounding parts.