Replacing half shafts or cv joint

I have an 02 Nissan Altma with a cv joint starting to go. How hard is it to replace the cv joint, or should I do the half shaft and should I do the other side

Thanks Joe

Replacing the CV joints is labor-intensive, which is why so many mechanics replace the whole axle. With a new axle you get TWO brand new cv joints. In the long run it’s probably the best way to go.

Look at the cv joint boots on the other side. If they look dry and cracked, you might as well replace both sides now. Then you can drive for years and not worry about the cv joints.

How hard of a job is it for a weekend car guy to replace the halfshafts

Hard to say how difficult, depends on the car, may require tools you don’t have. Easiest way to tell is get a repair manual for your car (car parts store) and see what’s involved. You’ll have to be able to safely support the car, no bumper jacks allowed!

Some are more difficult than others, requiring disassembly of suspension components. You WILL need a service manual if you’re going to attempt this yourself. It’s not impossible, but I’d want to read through the procedure before deciding.

I haven’t worked on all brands and models but on a Nissan Maxima I worked on the only thing out of the ordinary I found is that it was more difficult to pop the axle out of transaxle. It was in there pretty tight. That said, I can’t say if the Altima is the same.

With a manual in hand and a decent selection of tools, for your first time you should be able to handle this job in less than a day. One other thing you might want to do is inspect the axle seal for leakage and replace if necessary. Before you do make sure you have the means to install it properly.

Replacing half shafts (and I agree that that is the only sensible way to go) can be a real bear even on a rack. Removing the shafts from the transaxle can make you yell words you don’t want your kids to hear. While I’ve seen them done on jack stands, it’s not something I’d readily do…perhaps when I was younger I would have…had we had FWD cars back then.

IMHO this one is best left to a shop unless money is really really tight.

I’ve done many CV joints/driveshafts at home. The biggest problem I have run into is getting the driveshaft lock nut off. Many need a special socket and a big breaker bar to get them loose. Many of these nuts are torqued to 200 ft lbs or more then they are staked in place. Trying to break them loose at home without power tools is almost impossible.

The other thing to consider is… how are you going to get the lock nut properly torqued? An axle nut that isn’t properly torqued can lead to a whole lot of problems.

Don’t remove both shafts at the same time. It used to cause problems on some models.

Usually, replacing a CV axle on a front wheel drive car is one of those things that I say leave to the professionals not because it’s especially difficult but because a professional working in a garage with power tools can do it much, much faster than you can and consequently it usually doesn’t cost enough in labor charges to justify all the time you’d spend doing it yourself. And without all the nice tools and a lift, it can be a real bear of a job-- not terribly difficult but not really enjoyable.

Also, as the others have mentioned, you definitely want to replace the whole axle because the labor cost of paying your local mechanic to replace the joints will far exceed the cost of a whole new axle. Also, do inquire about the cost difference on a new one versus a rebuilt one. Some rebuilds don’t replace the hardened bearing races, which can result in a somewhat reduced life so if you can get a new one for 20 bucks or so more I’d go for it. (Although CV-Joint almost never just spontaneously fail-- it’s almost always due to dirt and dust getting into a torn boot)