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Clunking after new half axles

So I drive a 1991 Corolla sedan, base model, 5 speed with the 4AFE motor. I decided to put new half axles in because of high mileage (almost 240,000), and because there was some grease or oil on the gravel guard around one of the CV boots (which I now think is probably engine oil leaking slowly from the oil pan seal, spread around by the pulleys).

Anyway, I’m a fairly novice backyard mechanic, but I followed my Toyota repair manual closely, and torqued everything to spec. Now, when I turn a slow, tight corner, say around 75 degrees or more, I get a sort of clunking or clicking sound. It is a rhythmic clicking- more like a low-pitched clicking, and it goes away once I’m through the sharp part of the turn. One note: On my upper ball joints, I torqued the nuts to spec (35 ft-lbs I believe), and then had to tighten them a little to get the holes for the cotter pin to line up. Would this do it?

Any input is greatly appreciated, and feel free to ask any questions. Thank you!

Forgot to mention, I put in rebuilt half axles from NAPA.

Hard to guess. If you hadn’t just replaced the axles, the reasonable guess would be worn CV joints which classically fail with a sort of “playing card in the bicycle spokes” clicking. Initially when the steering wheel is turned to the stops. It gets worse … and worse … and worse over time until the CV joint breaks. I suppose that NAPA could have sold you a bad axle.

Maybe it’s something else, but I can’t think what.

Are you sure that you inserted the splines correctly when you installed those axles?
This sounds to me like it could be splines that are chewing up their mountings.

For whatever reason - plain old bad luck perhaps - I have had multiple problems with rebuilt halfshafts. I have had these problems on more than one car, and after the work of more than one shop. I don’t have any faith whatsoever on rebuilds.

I’ve had so many problems that I finally decided that I needed to start doing them myself. I recently did my first - in a '97 Escort - the “new” rebuilt halfshaft is just as noisy as the old one was.

So…I’m betting that one or both of your “new” halfshafts is not quite right.

I believe so. I engaged them, made sure it spun the transaxle, then hammered them (lightly) into place. If this were the problem, would there be any other symptoms? I drove over 300 miles after I did the work with no problems (that I could hear).


For anyone who still cares, I put in a new (refurbished) pair of halfshafts that NAPA gave me for free, although I had to spend about $10 on gear oil and cotter pins. They aren’t making any noise now, although the last ones didn’t at this point either.

I had a thought, on the last pair I pounded them in with a steel shaft when the manual called for a brass one. Could this have been the problem? This time I used a piece of wood.

My feeling is that you more than likely got some bad rebuilds. I’ve never had a problem with reman axles in my entire life but over the last couple of years I’ve run across a number of them.

One of the 2 I replaced in my daughter’s old Mitsubishi lasted only a month before actually binding up and leaving her on the side of the road. Since it was a lifetime part from O’Reillys they gave me another and it went bad within 2 weeks.

At that point they ordered 3 more shafts at the same time. I culled through them on the countertop and found that 2 of those 3 were bad right out of the box. The one remaining one showed to be good and worked with no problems at all.

Thanks for the reply.

How were you able to tell if the axles were bad out of the box? I’d like to avoid these problems in the future, without paying double for new ones.

Thanks again

I’ve had mixed results with re-manufactured half shafts.

One time I installed a half shaft from NAPA. The car only went about 100 yards before the outer joint of the shaft broke apart. When I returned the broken greasy shaft to NAPA, the two workers behind the counter looked at each other and shrugged. One then told me: “We’ve been having a lot of problems with our current CV shaft supplier.”

So its not just me!! I’m not sure if I should be relieved or more annoyed. I wonder how long my current bad one will go.

And to answer the most recent question zildjianboy7, I seriously doubt that it was your first install - I’m sure it was a substandard reman.

Hold the shaft and the joint firmly and simply move the joint around in every direction in a firm steady manner. The joint should move freely with no sign of a catch or excessive looseness.

If you feel anything other than a smooth movement then the part is questionable at best.

Hopefully I won’t need to do this any time soon. Thanks for the tip.

Wonderful… this is so surprising; I’ve had great luck with the people and parts from NAPA up until now. Maybe it’s worth paying double for new ones.

Good to hear.

This is totally unverified but I heard from a guy at a different NAPA than I got my shafts at, that once you start hearing the clunking/creaking around corners that they are very close to failing. Depending on how it fails, he mentioned how it can whip around and can take out brake lines and the like. Don’t take this to the bank because I haven’t done any research, but it was enough to scare me :slight_smile:

These poor quality remanufactured half-shafts lead me to suspect piss-poor metals from China. Thanks U.S. Gov for watching out for consumers!