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Punctured axle cover?

My 2005 Subaru Outback was in for some routine maintenance and the dealer said it had a punctured axle cover. $700 because they have to remove the axle. Is it safe to drive? I don’t have $700 right now! I’ve been doing research on the web and I can’t even find a part called an axle cover.

Well he meant (Edit: well, I assume he meant) differential cover. If it really is punctured (and I guess you’d have to have them show it to you and trust that they aren’t the ones who punctured it), then yeah, that’s not really something that you can let go. Your differentials need fluid in them for lubrication or they’ll wear out very, very quickly. If the cover was punctured and the fluid leaked out / is leaking out, you’ll be looking at 1000+ to replace the differential :frowning: Sorry for the bad news.

(But you might ask if there’s any way that they can patch it…)

CV joint boot? You have to remove the axle to replace these. Price seems a bit high, but they are most likely replacing the axle assembly instead of just replacing the boot. If you continue to drive it this way, you risk having the axle CV joint fail while you are driving. This could cause damage to the vehicle much more costly to repain than the $700 they have quoted for the axle.

I think Silver may be right, it sounds like it’s a CV joint boot. Find an independent Subie shop, have them take a look and give you an estimate. You need a second opinion, in the next week or so, but it’s not an emergency, “must be done today” type of thing, unless you’ve noticed new noises. Is it one of the two front axles? Do you hear a clicking noise as you turn?

I’m a Subaru owner, and I’ve never heard of an “axle cover.”

I think they are talking about a CV joint boot. There are two Constant Velocity joints on each drive axle, and there are four drive axles on your Outback, two in front and two in the rear. Basically, one axle powering each wheel, and two joints on each axle.

When the rubber boots covering the CV joints tear or are punctured, the grease that lubricates the CV joint is thrown out and the joint has no more lubrication. When this happens the CV joint starts to make noise and it will eventually grind itself to pieces.

This does NOT happen overnight, but it does happen eventually. You can safely drive the car, FOR A WHILE, but not indefinitely.

$700 is an outrageously high price for one axle. I’ve had two complete axles replaced for less than half that amount. I think the dealer is quoting a price to remove the axle, disassemble the CV joint, replace the boot, and reinstall the axle. This is a labor-intensive procedure, which explains the price.

It’s less expensive, and much quicker, to replace the whole axle, because there is so much less labor involved. I’ve had two drive axles replaced on my Subaru, with rebuilt CV joints, for less than half the price you’ve been quoted.

Find an independent mechanic and save some money. This is not rocket science, it’s just “remove and replace axle.” You don’t need brand new Subaru parts, rebuilt aftermarket axles will work just as well.

So, to summarize:

You don’t need to fix this today, but you need to fix it soon.

You don’t need to spend $700 to fix one leaking CV boot.

You DO need to find an independent mechanic with whom you can work, and save yourself a LOT of money on vehicle maintenance. I suggest you search your local phone book for an independent who specializes in Subaru.

As others have pointed out, he was talking about the “boot” (rubber cover) over the Constant Velocity joint in your drive axle.

McP’s post is excellent, as always. I would add that the joint will begin to make noise when it begins to deteriorate, either clicking, possibly thumping, and perhaps grinding. While I’d begin to look into options right now, you can wait until it starts making noise to have the work done.

I’d also add that there are “split boots” made to replace torn boots without the expense of replacing the axle. They’re not considered as durable long term, but they are an option to consider. Since the joints are not making noise yet you probably caught the situation early enough that a split boot will be a good solution to save the joints themselves.

Something lost in translation?

Get in touch with whomever you were talking with and find exactly what it is they meant. We need the proper terminology for it.

Post the answer back, ok?

If it is the CV joint boot, the price is way too high.

Question: have you been hearing any ‘clicking’ noise when making slow turns?

Personally, I believe it’s the CV joint boot too.

Hi Mb,
Did I miss something? Where does it say (besides in your post) “the joints are not making noise yet”?

Is it your rear axle(differential cover?). $700 starts to make sense and I would drive no futher.

I didn’t say so in the original post, but the car is not making any noise at all and it’s driving very well. Thanks for all the good advice. The dealer can’t find the mechanic’s write up on it, so they are going to look at it today to see if they can figure out what he meant.

Here’s the word from the dealer. It’s the CV Joint boot. They said we still had another 6-8 months of safe driving and in 6 months our car will be old enough to use rebuilt axles at a much cheaper price. The boot is cracked, but not leaking. So we will plan on replacing it in 6 months’ time unless we hear noises. Thanks again, everyone.

So was the $700 supposed to be to replace the boot? Because even for that job - labor intensive as it is - that price is outrageously high.

There is also nothing about the age of the car that has anything to do with what kind of a replacement you put in. You can but a rebuilt axle in any car, no matter the age. Maybe they mean that right now it is hard to find rebuilt axles because these usually come from old failed axles and there aren’t enough of these around yet - ? Strange.

In any case, they are correct in saying that there is no need to do anything immediately. Once the axle starts to make noise (usually first heard as a sort of binding popping noise when you turn the wheel) that’s when you want to get on to replacement.

And do yourself a favor and find a good local independent mechanic rather than the dealer. If you wanted to have this thing replaced today I’ll bet you can find someone who would do it for a couple hundred bucks (rather than $700).