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Yaris CV Joint - time to failure - help?

—this is long-winded, sorry!—

I just bought my first car: a 2007 Toyota Yaris. It has a torn CV boot on the driver’s side (don’t worry, I was aware of this when I bought it). I’ve done my homework, and I understand that if I do nothing, at some point I will start to hear a clicking or clunking sound when turning the wheel, that will gradually grow louder over time. Eventually, I’ll be driving along, and the CV joint will break for good, resulting in either: a) the gas pedal won’t propel the car, I will slam on the breaks and be stuck on the side of the road, or b) (in rare cases) the driver’s side wheel will fly off, leaving me stuck in the ditch, and possibly dead. I don’t want a) to happen, but I really don’t want b)!

I’ve also learned that replacing the whole CV axle is probably the best fix for this, and that the a cheap way to do it is to order the part myself and bring it to a mechanic. In a cruel twist of fate, Autozone and the like are currently out of remanned driver’s side Yaris CV axles (plenty of passenger side ones though!), leaving me choosing between: 1) Ebay or 2) wait. I would probably wait, but I’m planning to drive round trip Boston-Michigan (1500 miles) at the end of the month, and I definitely don’t want any risk of a breakdown leaving me stranded in Michigan. So here’s my question:

Should I absolutely be fixing this before I drive to Michigan? In other words, if I don’t fix, and then get 50 miles into driving to Michigan, and start hearing that click-click-click sound, am I screwed? Once the clicking starts, do you think the joint would fail before 1500 miles, or do I have a grace period?

If you say that yes, I should be fixing this ASAP, then should I be considering Ebay as a source for car parts? It sounds like a bit of a sketchy venue for an already-sketchy market, but if I can get reliable parts, I’m not really in a position to be choosy.

Or maybe I’m taking too many risks and should just fly to Michigan

First, don’t buy your own parts and take them to a mechanic. This will create more trouble than its worth and a lot of mechanics won’t even deal with it and I don’t blame them. In very practical terms, unless you are going to become a DIY mechanic you will probably end up losing more money in the long run on bad parts. Remanned halfshafts are a great example. Their quality is often very poor. If you go get one at Autozone and its bad out of the box, you’ll be paying 2X for the same labor. If your mechanic buys the part & its bad it is their problem, not yours. I once had an episode where I got 2 bad ramans in a row - 3 trips to the shop to get it right.

Second, CV joints normally don’t go from torn boot to dead in a rapid way. Its normally a slow process over time. So a torn boot isn’t an emergency. On top of that, if you were out on a trip and the joint started to get noisy this is a pretty simple & routine job for any mechanic. So you can always get it done without much ado. So I think you are worrying too much.

Is the torn boot accompanied by big globs of grease flung all over around the joint?

You Logged Into Repair And Maintenance, Not Hope And Procrastination. I Can Only Advise You To Get It Done, Now. Find A Source For A Quality Part And Get It Taken Care Of Before The Trip.


Wow, that’s a fast reply, thank you!
Good to know that I may be worrying too much, and that it’s a routine repair. I also appreciate the advice about avoiding buying my own parts?I certainly wouldn’t want multiple bad remans in a row, and I agree that it’s better to have the responsibility for a bad part fall on the mechanic. On the other hand, I’m being quoted part prices around $600 for OEM when I talk to mechanics (although I’m seeing prices online of closer to $350, so maybe I can negotiate this), plus labor I might be looking at $750-$900. In contrast, reman (based on online prices) might only run me $220. Surely there has to be some middle ground between these two?

But how would you define “quality part”?

The thing about just replacing the whole halfshaft if your boot is torn is normally about the fact that by the time the thing is removed, the joint torn down, cleaned, regreased, rebooted, etc. then you are looking at more labor cost than it would have taken to just toss a remanned axle on.

If you are really being quoted prices this high then in your case having someone replace the boot only does make sense - as long as the joint isn’t showing any problems.

Those prices are insane. However, its possible that you are being quoted prices for new ones. Most replacements these days are remans - but sometimes for newer cars if there is a halfshaft that is also a new spec it can take a while for enough of them to go bad for the market for remans to exist. This will keep the prices high.

Anyway, if I were you I’d be asking shops about just replacing the boot.

I’m glad someone agrees that these prices are crazy. I’ll keep asking around, and I’ll ask about boot replacement too, although I guess I’d be worried that CV joint-ruining sand and dirt have already gotten in, and I’ll have to replace the axle soon anyway…but if replacing the boot will buy me time it might be worth it. Thanks!

Failing joint symptoms can vary but the most common is that it will start off clicking through a corner. Over time this leads to a rattle and then eventually a full-fledged knocking sound. Joints can go for thousands of miles and many years like this although by the time it becomes a heavy rattle it’s a good idea to replace it.

Take the car out and make a somewhat sharp right hand turn and accelerate coming out of the turn while listening for any clicking noises.
Joints can also fail and not have any noise symptoms. The car may exhibit a vibration on acceleration or cornering or exhibit a jerky feeling at times.
If you hear no clicking and there is no vibration then I think you can go a long time like this without repairing it.

If the joint is quiet then you might consider having someone install a Quick Boot. These are replacement boots available from most car parts stores and they can be installed without removal of the axle in 5 or 10 minutes. It’s a very simple procedure.
(I would avoid eBay parts if at all possible.)

Thanks for your reply, this is all very reassuring. Maybe the best thing is to hedge my bets: have a quick boot installed for now, and listen to see when/if clicking ever starts, in which case I’ll think about replacement.

This post reminded me that I have been driving on a pair of torn boots on one of my halfshafts for a good 40K miles. The boots were torn when I bought the van. Not knowing how long they’d been torn I figured I didn’t want to bother with something like a quick boot or even anything more thorough. I figured I’d just go with it until it makes noise. So that’s why I forget about it. It still shows no symptoms whatsoever after 40K. Even so, everytime I think of it I’m thinking “I should really just replace that thing.”

Once in a while I think that I should have just fixed the boots given how long its gone on. So I’d still say to have someone do the boot work if the joints don’t have any symptoms.

Ha! well, that sounds like a victory for Hope and Procrastination (above). Sounds like the quick boot may really be a worthwhile bet to take, given that there might not be any actual issue with the CV joint yet.