03 Impala diagnosed with "torn" axle

I just took my car in for the normal oil changed and the repair shop called to say that during their inspection they noticed that my right fron axle had a tear in it and it’s losing all it’s grease. Same thing has happened to the left but it’s not that bad. Mechanic mentioned that I may have noticed a clicking sound when making turns…which I have for a few years now. Another repair shop told me that the clicking noise was from my rack and pinion and that my power steering fluid has a slow leak. I am now totally confused about what is causing the clicking noise, but I guess I have to have the axles replaced no matter what.

Apparently, you were told that the axle boots are torn. When this happens, grease can leak out and grit and dirt can contaminate the CV joints. When you hear a clicking noise while making a turn, that confirms that one or both of the CV joints is on its way out. If you have been hearing this clicking for a few years, your CV joints are surely shot. Replacing the CV joints will involve axle replacement.

While we can’t see, hear, or examine your vehicle, at this point, I would tend to agree with the CV joint diagnosis, rather than the steering rack diagnosis. However, GM vehicles do have a bad record for steering rack problems, so it is possible that this problem exists also.

I did just call back to the shop and they said that it was the rubber boot that was torn with most of the grease gone on the right side. Thanks for your confirmation.

I Hate To Throw A Monkey Wrench Into The Diagnosis, But . . .

. . . These cars suffer from intermediate steering shafts (a short steering link with universal joints on each end) that can make noise while turning. This is something that could have been going on for several years. Rather than a “click”, it’s more like a dull “clunk” or a “popping” sound and a discriminating driver can actually feel it in the steering wheel when it’s doing it. I believe you could even produce this sound while turning the wheel with the car statioary.

I don’t think it is dangerous, rather just an annoyance. The reason I bring it up is that because the axle needs to be serviced or replaced and I didn’t want Patio67 to think the repair was done improperly if this condition exists, as the axle work won’t remedy a steering shaft issue.

Get a competent mechanic from the repair shop who’s familiar with sounds of CV joints and intermediate steering shafts to give a listen while operating the car. Go along for the ride.

Thank you for your post. I hear what sounds like a clicking sound when I’m driving slowly, like making a turn in a parking lot. It’s definitly not a clunk, but could be described as popping. If the sound persists after the repair I’ll have to ask for the ride along. I’ve gotten by with it for so long, mentioning it every now and then when I take my car in for service with no resolution. They claim they don’t hear the sound, so the ride along would work. Again, I appreciate the feedback.

CSA makes a good point. GM trucks do have a history of suffering from intermediate steering shaft problems (I wasn’t aware that their cars also have this problem), so it is possible that you have this problem, in addition to bad CV joints and possibly a worn-out steering rack.