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What Is A Dead CV Joint?

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I don't think my CVs have ever been serviced in 40 years. I’m taking the time to re&re all 4 and I’d like some opinions. Should I re-use or replace some of the CVs? Problem is I don’t know what constitutes a dead joint.

I’ve found 2 areas of concern

1. On the running surfaces of the CVs there are shiny polished patches where the ball bearings run. To the touch, the surfaces don’t seem to be scored. The shiny patches appear to be on both sides of the run, meaning forward and reverse gear wear on the CVs?

2. One of the bearing cages will not hold the ball bearings without help. The other bearing cages are tighter and the bearings are gently “snapped” into position. This was especially evident when trying to disassemble. Bearings wouldn’t pop out without help.

All other parts and assemblies appear to be in order.

Experience and opinions please.



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Great post - nice photos.

I don't have an answer and am wondering the same thing. I currently have slight noise (gear whine when holding throttle, goes away at acceleration) at 75mph+ on what appears to be the drivers side CV. Packed with new grease and did not help but I didn't check for wear just yet.

Hopefully someone can help steer us the right direction. My gut is that any wear is not good, but if yours seemed to "work fine", I would repack and call it a day if no one says otherwise.



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Nice photos and good questions. I've rebuilt CV's a few times and they last a long time as long as the grease does not get contaminated from a torn boot. Mine showed wear on the cage (loose), but were fine when I put them back in. My non-professional opinion is that if the cage is not cracked, the balls not pitted, and the CV gear and housing channels smooth, you are fine. I have read that some racers will put valve grinding compound into brand new CV's and run them with car on a stand (no load) to polish the CV's to reduce running resistance, then clean fully and pack with grease. So perhaps a loose CV gives a performance advantage. CV's are pretty robust, so I think you should be fine. Will be interested to hear from others with more experience than I.

EDIT: Here are a couple links that may be of interest...


For off-road use, it’s better if the whole joint is kept just a little loose. There may be a slight increase in noise, but it shouldn’t bother you during racing. The benefits are that the joints will survive heavy knocks, and they’ll also handle the large, rapid changes in direction, as the suspension cycles up and down.


Polishing CV's will give you longer life and hopefully allow for more CV joint travel before they start to click, bind, and break.


CV clocking and axle orientation

--Fred '74tii & '69GT3

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worn CV joint

not noises but a binding, vibrations - felt from worn ramps

when the axles are loaded in different positions from

the 'normal' running position, where most wear occurs. Of course

if water water or dirt have entered through a torn boot,

other wear has occured which would cause noise and vibrations.

LOOSE is worn.

TIGHT is not worn.

Choice is yours


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Thanks for the input.

c.d. : Your picture shows that I've got a lot of life left in my old metal.

I've learned a lot and more. "Clocking" is a new term to me. That is the alignment between the opposing CV joints on the same halfshaft. Probably not relative to the confined distance of arc on the 02, but aligning properly allows for maximum angle of use from the CVs. Dune Buggy reference.

I'm ready to regrease and re-assemble units.

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For some reason, the VW (Bentley) manuals discourages switching axle shafts from side-to-side. I've never seen an axle failure, only a CV joint failure.

A popular upgrade on off-road VW-based vehicles is the use of Porsche 930 CV joints and axles.

Weird how the VW (4-joint) and BMW rear suspension is similar in design.


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Paul, yours look like almost all 2002 cv's- almost new.

They're one of the most understressed parts of the car.

And yeah, Porsche, BMW and VW all used the same design of joint...

in 90 and 100 mm versions.


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Great information. I'm going to service my CVs and will use this information for judgement calls.


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