Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Early sign of CV joint failure?

I’m pretty sure this is unrelated to my wandering issues (see other thread) but just today a new problem popped up on my '08 Corolla. There is a rhythmic rough/squeaking sound coming from the front left. So far I can only hear it at parking lot speeds (10-20 mph). It sounds like a tire rubbing, but it only occurs when I’m coasting fairly straight ahead. If I turn the wheel hard either direction, or if I apply any throttle, the noise stops immediately. If I apply the brakes the noise doesn’t change. 165K on the original axles, and from what I’ve read the left outside is the shortest lived. Should I just go ahead and do both? Any other possible culprit I can eliminate before buying the parts? I plan to do struts sometime soon as well, so perhaps this is good timing for once.

Sounds more like a wheel bearing to me.

That doesn’t sound like a CV-joint noise.

The outer CV-joint will usually make a clicking/clacking noise while cornering.

An inner CV-joint will usually make clunking noise when accelerating/declerating. Much like a U-joint on a rear wheel drive vehicle.

The noise you’re hearing might be coming from one of the brake pad wear indicators.

These are metal tabs that come in contact with the brake rotors when the pads wear to a certain point.

So I would do a brake inspection first.


It sounds like brake noise to me too. While checking the front brakes, ask your shop to also carefully check the condition of the CV boots, inner and outer, both sides. And a quick check of the wheel bearings.

If the brakes are shot, and you need struts, even if the half shafts seem ok now, might be a good time to replace those along with the brakes and the struts. An alignment, and you’ll be In- Like-Flynn.

If you have not addressed the wandering issue…this could be related.

I really think you should take this car off the road until a proper diagnosis is made and the repair done. If I’m right about the steering shaft u-joint…you could lose control at any time.

Think of not only your own safety, but the innocent bystanders that may be in harms way if this u-joint let go completely…which it will at some point.
Imagine traveling at 50mph and coming to a curve in the road. You turn the wheel and get no response. You just continue traveling towards those people on the sidewalk.
By the time you realize you have no control…it’s too late for your reflexes to brake in time.

This will not suddenly happen at the best of times. Like when you are backing out of the driveway.
It will most likely happen when least expected and the vehicle is well under way.
Maybe when you lose control and hit a bridge abutment at 50mph.


How badly was this car wrecked?

Lol, car has never been wrecked (we’ve owned it since brand new). Brakes are less than 10k old. Turns out this one’s on me. I went to pull the front wheels this evening to investigate and two of the left front lugnuts were loose. Occam’s Razor says I must have missed tightening them, although I’ll check them again in a few days to see if they loosen back up. Checked all the other lugnuts all the way around and only those two were loose.

I am continuing to chase the wandering issue, and so far no luck. As for the steering, with the car on the ground there is no discernible play between steering wheel motion and wheel motion. i.e. the steering shaft and rack are fine, no slop at all.

Id have to agree with the other guys again here… Early CV failure is almost always indicated by turning the wheel hard and applying power…they will click fairly rapidly. Thats how it usually goes.


And inner CV joints, an entirely different design, will thunk when turning hard if worn out.

I agree with the others that this does not sound like a CV joint problem.

I also agree with Yosemite that you really really really need to get this front end looked at. Brake wear indicator noise will generally be affected by applying the brakes, and since your noise apparently isn’t there’s no telling what the real culprit may be. Guessing isn’t going to get it fixed, and right now you’re only guessing. No disrespect meant.

Explain how the inner CV-joint will thunk while turning when the outer CV-joint is the articulating joint?

The inner CV-joint is the plunging joint, (allows the axle to change length while going over bumps), or when accelerating/decelerating?


Right. The bearings on the ends of the trifurcated center spider will, given enough time, wear grooves in the outer housing where they usually rotate in their planetary manner, and when the center is pulled out of the grooves due to the normal changes in axle length inherent in turning the assembly can thunk as the rotating yolk assembly fights to stay in the grooves. It’s a normal sign of a worn out inner CV joint. The inner joints primary function is to allow the hub to freely move in & out (the axle to change length) as it moves through its steering and suspension movements, while still allowing some articulation to accommodate suspension movements. But by far the overwhelming majority of its wear is with the steering not too far from center. Ergo, the wear pattern.

For the record, torque from accelerating and changes from decelerating only have an effect of they cause the angle of the body relative to the road to change, causing movement of the hubs up or down through the suspension geometry. Torque applied lightly or braking applied lightly without turning do not cause the axles to need to appreciably change length.

I think I have heard this thunk before though… My guess is that if the inner is going bad…when you turn the front wheels it pulls or pushes the shaft into and out of the inner joint…and if its binding or going bad…it thunks? Either that or its a ball joint I hear thunking…but my inner joints on my VW have had it and I now hear a thunk at extreme turn angles… I was thinking ball joint at first…but I know my inner joints are toasted so I tied the sound to that… Could be wrong…I will know if a few days for sure


I’ve never had the thunk problem, at least never caused by an inner CV joint failure. But if I’m under the car, say changing the oil, and I pull on the axle shaft away from the engine, toward the hub, it definitely does make a thunk-like sound from the inner CV joint area. So I could see how a failing inner joint might produce that sort of symptom.

I have encountered thunking from a worn out inner CV joint. It’s not just theoretical for me.