Axle boots and heat shields

I have a 2004 Subaru Outback Sport wagon with ~59K miles. Recently, a heat shield came off, probably from rust. I was told not to bother replacing it. However, I often take this car off-road for hiking/camping. How careful do I now need to be about protecting the exhaust pipe? In addition, while they were inspecting the heat shield issue, they told me that the R and L axle boots were worn, and needed to be replaced, to the tune of $450. When is it worth it to just replace the axle?

That $450 quote is probably for the axle. Nobody replaces boots these days.

I hope whoever told you not to replace the heat shield was right. They tend to keep your car from catching on fire.

I would replace the heat shield as it is mounted to protect the floor of the vehicle from the excessive heat the converter emits.

When the rubber boots are cracked, they alone are replaced to retain the joint grease. No need to replace the complete axle shafts. (Unless they are damaged)

“Nobody replaces boots these days”. Since when?

No body told my independent tech. He’s been replacing the boots for over 25 years.

The only time he replaces the axle shafts is if the boot has long been split and all the grease has spun out.

I’m curious. For those who still replace boots or whose mechanics still replace boots, how is it still the preferable choice over replacing the axle?

By the time one removes the axle, disassembles, cleans, inspects, and repacks the CV joint, isn’t that a lot of costly labor for a used CV joint?

Are the aftermarket axles that unreliable so that the motivation for simply replacing the boots is justified?

I’m not talking about split boots. If that’s the only way they do it, then it all makes sense (aside from the concerns with split boots).

I’ve had it done both ways, and the cost was pretty much the same. Never had a problem with with a repacked joint or an aftermarket axle.

More likely the heat shield came off (was knocked off) during your off-road adventures. I suggest you replace it. As others mentioned, the heat shield does not protect the exhaust system, it protects the underside of the car from excessive heat. A missing heat shield could result in a fire.

You are lucky to have found someone who still changes boots. I wish I was that lucky. None of the mechanics I have asked do it. They say that with all the labor involved, it is easier to just change the axles.

michelem, if you want to find a mechanic who changes the boots, you might have to conduct an extensive search. Good luck.

Roadrunner, how much does your mechanic charge for CV boot replacement?

I couldn’t give you a dollars and cents amount as he didn’t tell me.

This was mentioned in the course of another discussion we had.

He only said that it saved the customer money by not replacing the complete axle as opposed to re&re the boot and re-grease the joint.

FWIW he charges $65 per hour.

I have only had one boot split and that was on a '88 Chev Corsica. That’s so long ago now I don’t remember how much he charged me. Same independent tech and the labor was cheaper then too.

Maybe you could ask the next time you talk to him? No rush. Just curious. My Civic is 11 years old with 183,000 miles. I would like to replace the original boots before they leak when the car reaches 200,000 miles if it would save me money over waiting for failure and replacing the axles. I will probably keep this car for another 5 - 10 years.