CV axles getting "stuck/binded" during sharp turns

Car is 2000 Corolla with 58k miles. My front left CV axle was leaking last year so I decided to replace both front CV axles with some generic brand from advanced auto parts (I think the brand was called ToughOne and it was new CV axles…not remanufactured). This was about 5000 miles ago. Before replacing the CV axles, this issue mentioned below never occurred.

The issue is that sometimes, when making slow sharp turns (more evident in right turns) and then immediately coming to a stop, sometimes the CV axles gets “stuck”. If I let go of the brakes at the stop…the car rolls backwards (it feels like something is loose and the wheels “freeroll”)! During this time, the engine is at 900-1000rpm (it should be 650 at idle). It’s like the CV axles get disconnected from the transmission.Then, if I press down the gas pedal a little bit…the engine hits around 1400rpm and the CV axles “connect” again and there is a slight jolt and everything is alright.

This also happens at sudden stops (braking hard). Also a related issue: When making a quick sharp turn at normal speed, as soon as the steering wheel comes back to the center…the engine immediately hits 2300 rpm and then comes back down to 1600rpm. Its like the CV axles are disconnecting (transmission is still engaged and computer detects loss of power and raises engine rpm) and then reconnecting (computer detects power to the wheels are restored…and the engine rpm drops to normal levels).

The transmission fluid is fine, transmission shifts smoothly.

Do you think the new CV axles are bad? The mechanic had trouble disconnecting the old axles…so he used a hammer…maybe he bent something?

If the car rolls backwards freely when the tranny is in “D” “engaged”, than the engine is not solidly connected to the drivetrain. That’s a tranny problem, specifically the torque converter.

Said differently, yes, you’re correct, the axles that contain the CV joints are getting disconnected from the transmission, but it is not the fault of the axles.

Some rolling may be normal when you stop on an incline. Your engine is connected to your transmission by a fluid coupling device called a Torque Converter (TC). The TC is like a bagel, sliced, hollowed out, and with vanes and fluid inside. When you accelerate, the vanes in the front drag that fluid which drags the vanes in back and pulls the tranny input shaft. When the car is stopped and no accelerator input is applied, many modern cars are designed such that the engine, by virtue of the way this device is designed, totally disconnects from the tranny and the car can roll. Manufacturers do this to gain that extra miniscule added gas mileage by allowing the engine to run freely at idle, without any load at all.

The engine will normally increase revs as it downshifts to compensate for the added resistance of making a sharp turn at the same speed, then drop its revs back to a lower level when the resistance ebbs (you straighten out again) and it can operate in the higher (lower ratio) gear. This is normal.

You said the transmission fluid is “fine”. What color is it? Does it have a strange odor?

And my last and perhaps most important question: have you been driving this car since new or is it new to you?

Interesting but I have 1 question. So if the gear is on “D”, and I’m at a full stop holding the brakes…the tranny is disconnected. How come, when the problem occurs, then the engine rpm is around 800-900rpm and the engine “feels” like its in “first gear with a load”? If the tranny was disconnected, the engine must idle at 650rpm.

I bought it at 46k miles last year…other than the CV axle issue…no problems.

After I bought it, I drain and filled the transmission fluid (not flushed) with…Royal Purple. Even with the CV axles replacement, I did not have this issue until recently.

2013 April - Bought Car
2013 June - Drain and Fill Trans fluid with Royal Purple
2013 August - Replace both front CV axles
Since 2014 January - The issue in my post above occurs

Could it be the Royal Purple ATF causing it? Can it go bad after working for almost a year?

Yes, it could absolutely be the Royal Purple. I’d bet on it. Modern transmission are extremely sensitive to their fluids, they must be the correct ones. And that includes the fluid in the torque converter. I strongly recommend you drain the Royal Purple out, including out of the torque converter, drop the pan and clean it out as best you can, and refill it with the correct fluid from the Toyota dealer’s. Some of the regulars here who are more tranny-experienced might even have better suggestions for purging, but you need to get that stuff out of there.

Re: the idle RPMs, it is possible that the tranny, which is supposed to feel no drag at stop, is feeling drag in the TC from that Royal Purple and is increasing its idle to compensate.

If you can you jack up both front wheels (parking brake on), turn one front wheel and see if the other one turns smoothly in the opposite direction. Do it again with the steering wheel turned in both directions. For the axles to “disconnect” from the differential and then reconnect would be crazy. I would try a complete trans flush with Toyota fluid. There are also solenoid failures that can cause odd problems.

Thank you both for the info, I will try the trans drain and fill on Thursday. My mechanic is a Toyota, Honda, Nissan mechanic. Do you think he will have the right ATF for the corolla?

“Do you think he will have the right ATF for the corolla?”

I wouldn’t know. Note that “drain and fill” changes only about 1/3 of the fluid. That’s why I’d do a full flush.

Spend the extra cash and stop at the Toyota dealer. Your tranny is at risk here.
By the way, I absolutely agree with insightful that a full flush (nonchemical only) is appropriate here.

This problem is now fixed. It was low transmission fluid.

Long story:
I was checking the transmission fluid the wrong way. Before, I would let the engine warm up, go through each gear, put it back into park and then check the transmission fluid.

Yesterday, instead, I had someone put it in drive and hold the brakes while I checked the fluid. It was dry!

I took it to the mechanic and watched him drain it…only a bottle’s worth came out. After putting Toyota ATF, the problem is now fixed. Hopefully, I did not damage my transmission by having low fluid. Strange, I did not notice any leaks and the underbody is clean.

“Yesterday, instead, I had someone put it in drive and hold the brakes while I checked the fluid. It was dry!”

Thanks for the update. Did you check it the “old” way immediately before the “new” way? Over many years, I have found checking fluid level somewhat of a crapshoot.

Yeah, the day before yesterday…it was the old way and yesterday it was the new way. The fact that so little came out when the mechanic drained it, it must’ve been dry.

There still could be a problem. When you checked it the “new” way, you forced the fluid into the torque converter (which should also be full doing it the “old” way). BUT, if there’s an internal leak allowing the torque converter to drain in PARK, that would explain what you’ve seen. Just sayin’, keep an eye on it.

You have to check the owners manual for the proper way to check trans fluid. In GM its running it through the gears warm and then checking in park with the car running. In my Acura its getting the fluid hot, evidenced by the radiator fans going on, then shutting it off and checking within a minute. So just depends but agree, 3-4 quarts should have come out.