How Long Can You Drive with Bad CV Joints?

Perhaps the most vulnerable part of your car’s suspension system is the CV joint that connects your axle and wheels. 

Experts say that you have 6 months before damaged joints fail catastrophically but most recommend immediate action because of its underlying danger.

The following text will take a look at the major signs of a bad CV joint and some other important factors you need to consider to ensure safe driving conditions.

How Important is the CV Joint in Any Car?

CV joints or constant velocity joints are small connections that join the axle and the wheel to facilitate smooth movement through uneven terrain, bumps, and other elements on the road

These joints also play a role when you turn your car as they allow the axle to flex.

They are extremely important for any car. 

In the absence of a CV joint, your axle will remain rigid and absorb all the forces coming from potholes and bumps, which would result in catastrophic damage to it. 

Additionally, the joints also play an integral role in allowing you to make turns. So, that is another factor that makes the constant velocity joints so important.

Driving on a damaged CV joint can be extremely dangerous. 

The CV joint is quite vulnerable and quickly deteriorates once the damage starts. 

This means that you might soon find yourself in a position where it would become impossible to drive the car if you ignore cv joint damage. 

It’s always recommended to get the CV joints checked as soon as you start noticing the signs of damage.

The 3 Giveaway Signs of Damaged CV Joints

CV Joint damage is relatively easy to recognize because the main signs don’t coincide with many other faults. 

Generally, you’ll have a very short time before the damage propagates to the axle and leaves your car undrivable. 

So, you should be very careful and quickly approach a mechanic in the case of an issue.

Here are some giveaway signs that you are dealing with damaged cv joints:

Busted Housing

The housing for your CV joint will be the first sign that you need to get them checked. 

A busted housing will offer nominal protection to the joint but will continue to leak oil for a long time.

If you get it checked quickly, you’ll only have to deal with replacing the housing provided that the CV joints are not damaged or contaminated by dirt and other environmental elements.

Clunking and Clicking Sounds

Another common sign of bad CV joints is a clunking or clicking sound coming from the suspension. 

You can also hear a humming sound similar to the one with bad bearings. 

However, the wheel bearing sounds intensify as you speed up, so you can easily recognize if you are dealing with that issue or not.

As for the clunking and clicking sounds, you’ll hear them the most while making a turn. In such cases, you’ll need to approach your mechanic as soon as possible.

Complete Failure of the CV Joint

Finally, this is more of a consequence than an actual sign of a damaged CV joint. 

In this case, your joints along with the axle will break down and make it impossible for the car to move. 

When that happens, be ready to spend a significant amount and spend a long time on repairs. So, it’s always better to avoid that by checking your CV joints regularly.

A damaged CV joint becomes even more dangerous considering the fact that it can fail during your drive as well. 

CV joints failing midway can cause your car to lose control and may put you and others at risk.

It goes without saying how dangerous this is and it’s important to reiterate that the only way to avoid such issues is through regularly inspecting the CV joints and going for repairs when required.

How to Test the Condition of CV Joints?

There are several ways to go about testing the overall condition of your vehicle’s CV joints

It starts with the visual inspection. If you know the way around your car, you’d be able to check the CV joints quite easily. 

Simply look for any leaking lubricant from the housing as it’s a giveaway sign that your suspension components are at the very least vulnerable.

Another way to inspect the condition of your CV joints is to check the sounds coming from the car when you drive.

Damaged joints will give you a particular clunking sound as you take a turn and you can use that to check the current condition of the joints.

The process is quite simple.

Take your car to an empty area where you have enough room to move around in circles. 

Move the steering wheel to both extremes and move your car in circles. Repeat the whole process in reverse gear as well and pay close attention to the sounds your car is making.

In the case of damaged joints, you’ll hear a lot of clunking noise from the suspension during the entire process and you’ll know what you need to do to correct it.

The Expected Cost of Dealing with Damaged CV Joints

The overall costs of dealing with damaged CV joints can vary greatly because of the difference in service costs and other factors. 

Generally, the parts cost around $200 and the mechanic can take about $600 or more. 

The overall price depends on your location, the number of damaged joints, and various other factors.

Can a damaged CV Joint Affect Other Suspension Components?

Yes, damaged CV joints can directly affect the performance of other components as well. 

For instance, a faulty CV joint can create excessive vibrations and wobbles in the car. 

This wobbling wouldn’t be of much help when it comes to recognizing the extent of the damage because so many other faults also cause wobbling in the car.

Apart from the wobbling, damaged CV joints also affect the transmission of the vehicle

Although it’s not too significant, it still is important to mention that because many people report dealing with expensive transmission repairs after ignoring CV joints for a while.

Final Thoughts on How Long Can You Drive with Bad CV Joints

To sum up, the CV joint is an integral, yet vulnerable component of your suspension system that may get damaged with time. 

While you can drive your car for a little bit, car experts strictly advise not to.

The reason is simple. Ignoring damaged CV joints can damage your car and lead to further problems down the line. 

Additionally, if your CV joints fail when you are driving, you can lose control of your vehicle and put yourself and your passengers at risk as well.

Therefore, it’s better to avoid addressing the issues related to your CV joints as soon as possible. 


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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