Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

06 Passat CV Joints Broke

Gone, kaput; car towed to dealer. 58k on car and had both the boots replaced in November 2010 (about 2,500 miles ago). Pretty sure the VW dealership told me the boots were worn and I need to replace so I wouldn't have the wonderful experience I am now having? Is this true?

I'm a car dumby as is my husband. Warning signs (what I have read) only occurred a few days in advance and I had planned to take the car in this week for an unrelated check engine light. Oops. The car has generally been driven on highways and backroads with minimal pot holes. I don't fly over rr tracks, etc... gravel rd for 1/3 mile at our house. Can someone try to educate me? Did I do something wrong?

My general rule for my cars is that when a boot gets torn, I replace the axle. Why? Because no matter how fast you catch the torn boot, grit and other crud from the road will have gotten into the grease. So to do the job right, you have to rip the old boot out, then thoroughly clean the CV joint, regrease, and reboot. By the time you’ve paid someone to do that, you might as well pay them to put a new axle on. It’ll work out about the same cost-wise, because it’s a lot faster to slap an axle in there than it is to tear down to the joint, clean it, and then re-cover it. And now you have all new parts and best of all, a sealed 1 piece CV boot instead of the 2 piece boots that you use when one tears.

For all you know, the new boot came apart at the seam and belched your axle grease all over again, and that’s why it failed. Or it could have been that they didn’t properly clean it out, and there was enough crud in there to cause joint wear. As to your driving style, I can almost guarantee that I drive a lot harder than you do, especially on the track, and we probably have about the same failure rate of CV boots. It’s just a piece of rubber, after all, and anything that you run over has the potential to hit the boot and rip it open.

About the only thing I’d recommend for you to do in the future is to make checking the condition of the boots part of your preventative maintenance routine. It’s pretty easy to do - turn the wheel all the way to either direction, and then look at the inside of the wheel. Is it covered in black gunk? Then you have a torn boot and should have the problem addressed. (of course, you should make sure the wheels get cleaned after your axles are replaced this time to avoid false positives).

@ Shadow - thank you this was very helpful and will allow me to ask some more appropriate questions of the people doing the repair (when I authorize it today).

Be sure you ask for aftermarket parts for the axles. Autozone lists rebuilt axles for $100 each. New aftermarket ones are generally about the same price. The OE ones from the dealer can be significantly more expensive.

Very good point TXdealer. I source all my axles from I’ve never gotten a bad part from them.

Did the dealer reboot your CV joints or did they replace the axles? If they replaced them with remans, they may have put bad axles in. I have never had any luck with reman axles. In fact, I had one break on me less than three months after I installed it.

It is my understanding that the dealer (different one) rebooted the left and right CV Joints (receipt is in the car). This was in November and 3,000 miles ago. I was told the boots were ‘worn’. I have found an independent mechanic (reputable and recommended) and will have the car towed to them and the repair done. Even with towing I will save several hundred $$$. Unlikely I will ever go to the dealer again (but I paniced). They have provided me with an estimate that is very reasonable based on what I have read on-line.

If your boots were not torn, this should not have happened. Once torn, the CV joints wear very quickly, but they usually make a clicking sound during cornering. Did you ever get the clicking sound?

I just though of something, if it was the inner joint that failed, this could be caused by the mechanic not replacing the c-clip on the end of the axle and the tripod could have come off. If that is what happened, then the dealer is fully responsible and should do this repair under warrantee.

As the postings are not too clear… You should have them replaced for free by the factory at cost. These joints broke at the welds? or the axle? Yes worn boots need to be replaced… but did they replace them right? Those booger boots are not to be toyed with and aftermarket boots Don’t fit the bill !!!

Seriously you have a lawsuit in small claims court if they don’t fix it!! Unless you agreed to cheap replacements!!

I think before anyone could accuse the dealer of maleasance a lot of details would have to be known.

Both boots means what; same axle, both outers, etc.?

Any clicking or rattling before the replacement?

"Worn" boots does not mean split boots so that needs to be clarified.

Axles should bolt to the transmission so lock pins should not be an issue.

Details on how the axles broke would need to be provided. (bolts sheared at the trans, inner or outer joint came apart, both sides(?) involved, etc, etc.

VW does not normally have CV joint problems so this would be very unusual on a 58k miles car.

I appreciate all this information.
According to my receipt - I paid (in Nov) to have the front axle left and right side outer boots and clamps replaced. At the time I had 54.7k on the car. I now have 58.9k
Honestly I don’t remember any clicking back in November when I turned left or right; before the whole thing went caplooie a week ago - I heard the clicking. As I stated I was getting ready to take the car in for service. I am not car saavy but knew something needed to be looked at. It sounded wrong.

In Nov: each part (boot & clamp) cost $42.50 - the repair was done at a VW dealership; labor of course was additional per boot. I do not know if aftermarket boots were used.

I was told worn I did not see the boots at the time to know there ‘real’ condition. All joking aside I did not know the purpose of the boot on a car.

Upon inspection after recent problem the dealer (different one) states; right drive axle broken at outer cv joint.

An “honest” independent shop is now handling the repair and also making sure the boot on the left side was installed properly. These people have not called to share more ‘bad’ news. Perhaps I will know more on Monday.

What is a c-clip? I get the idea this helps hold the things together. If they neglected to put this clip back on, how long would it (normally) take to fail? About 1,600 of the post replacement miles where on interstate (NC to FL and back). The local driving is on I-40 or the winding roads of N. Durham.

Without knowing details about the damage, about all I can offer are a couple of possibilities. Put aside the C-clip thing at this point as the VW should use a shaft that attaches to a transmission hub with bolts. Most CV shafts use circlips but other means have been used to attach shafts also; bolts, serrated drive pins, and in some cases nothing at all. The inner joint fits into a race attached to the transmission itself.

One possibility could be that bolts were left loose at the transmission attachment point. Another could be that someone did not properly tighten the CV shaft main nut.
In the case of the latter this can lead to the splines stripping from the wheel hub, the shaft, or even both. When this happens the car will quit moving.
Yet another could be that someone did not properly assemble the joint after cleaning, repacking the grease, and installing the new boots. A very careful exam and someone should be able to figure out what went wrong.

CV joints seldom ever fail without plenty of warning signs. (rattling or knocking, etc. and especially so while cornering.)
In the case of stripped splines this may come across as a grating, grinding, or whirring sound. Hope some of that helps anyway.

Axles should bolt to the transmission so lock pins should not be an issue.

Huh? I have never seen an axle that bolts to the transmission.

Since this is a failure at the outer CV joint, then the c-clip should not apply, unless the outer CV joint is replaceable on a VW. The C-clip that I was referring to would be the one that keeps the tripod on the shaft inside the inner CV joint.

Replacing the CV joint boots because they are worn or old is not really a bad idea. As long as there is uncontaminated grease inside the joint, it doesn’t wear out very fast. I think most could easily last the life of the vehicle, if the boot didn’t tear or get ripped. Since most boots are rubber, they will rot over time and end up with a tear in them, the grease gets contaminated and the joint now wears out very rapidly.

What bothers me here is why only the outer boots and not the inners. And, how did they replace the outer boots without removing the inner boots and CV joints first. The only way that that could be done is if the outer CV Joints can be removed and replaced. I have heard of these but have never seen one. Every axle I’ve ever worked on, the inner CV joint is removable, but the outer is not.

EDIT: I guess they could have used split boots, and one of those boots didn’t get sealed up properly and things went downhill from there. If the OP will check her invoice again for the labor cost, that would be a clue. If the labor was for an hour or less, then I’d suspect split boots.

If VW has an axle with a removable outer joint, then I’d suspect that it was not reinstalled correctly. Otherwise I can’t imagine how the axle could break at the outer joint. I could see the outer joint coming apart if it is a fork design like Toyota uses instead of the double offset design.

I can’t help it, I know that I am working with very limited information from the OP, but I still suspect that the problem is related to the work done at the dealership. If I had “eyes on”, I might have a completely different opinion.

I get the car back in the a.m. but I went to visit the shop and they showed it to me on the lift. The new boots that were put on in November look fine - no splits, tears or grease stuck to the undercarriage / wheel area. The boots appear to be a one piece design. The shop will tell me what happened when I pick up the car. They are as intrigued as all of you.

You all have vastly improved my knowledge of cars and for that I am grateful.

ps. the labor cost was the same for each replacement boot - I suspect a standard labor charge for the repair at the dealership. Given it was done at a dealership assume their labor costs were higher than most find conscienable.

Attaching the shafts to the transmission with bolts on VWs has been common since the late 60s and the demise of the old swing axle setup on early VW Bug/Beetle, and Bus.
Generally speaking, the bolts are the so-called Triple Square bolts.

Subarus for decades attached their axles to the transmission with a serrated drive pin and way back when even Subaru attached their halfshafts with bolts.

It’s also pretty common with VWs to reboot shafts because the joints hold up very well and I’ve done a bunch of them. This is not a problem unless someone makes a mistake.
This job is near idiot-proof, but I’m inclined to agree that someone may have slipped here. Please keep us informed as to the actual cause just as an FYI.

OK4450, I stand corrected. I did replace an axle on an old Beetle, but that was a loooong time ago. I forgot how it was done. Haven’t touched a VW since.

If the joint(s) were not clicking or knocking before the boot replacement or afterwards then one would have to think that someone messed up. It will be interesting to hear what the cause of this was.

I would too. Please ctswanson, keep us posted.

ok - car fixed! Car is driving great - no noise up by either front wheel.

Let me clarfiy that the axel was broken at the right front wheel. It appears this small metal clip shaped like a ‘c’ with a little flex to it is supposed to lock into place and hold everything together. I don’t know if this gets touched during a boot replacement but this ‘c’ shaped piece of metal apparently did not get or was not locked into place and this caused the axel to break.

I hope this helps you all as I can’t offer any additional information.

I thank you all again for the dialogue. It was helpful to me in sorting out and understanding this problem.