This Instructable will show how to replace a broken CV boot on a front wheel drive vehicle without disassembling it or replacing the entire shaft.
This guide is an inexpensive way to repair the boots only, but if the boots have been torn for a while then the axle bearings may be worn out and the entire axle may need to be replaced. If you hear any noise while driving or turning then you should replace the entire axle.
On step 7 there is some extra instructions on what to do if replacing the entire axle shaft.
Cost per axle shaft: $50-$100 (depending on vehicle)
Cost for boot replacement kit and supplies: $15-$30 (Assuming you have the tools)
Boot kit used here: Boot Kit
I also recommend purchasing an aftermarket maintenance manual (Chilton, Haynes) for your vehicle, it can be very helpful for future repairs and for specific details about your specific vehicle.
Step 1: Step 1: Tools and Safety
I brought my 2001 Suzuki Esteem into the mechanic for an inspection and one thing he found was that the axle shaft boots were torn. I decided to find an inexpensive way to change the boots, and from my search online this is one way to do it.
Before starting anything, I recommend buying and wearing a decent pair of safety glasses through the entire process. Also, wear gloves!
Since this is a messy job I would also recommend placing a towel or cardboard under the vehicle during the entire process.
It is good practice to chock the wheels before doing anything (place something behind and in front of both rear wheels to prevent the it from rolling before doing anything. Also engage the emergency brake for added safety.
If possible, try to find your vehicle maintenance or owners manual for torque specifications on all nuts and bolts, it is good to follow these to ensure you are not over or under tightening anything. You may be able to find general torque specs online, since they may be similar for many vehicles.
Step 2: Step 2: Raise Vehicle
Before raising the vehicle begin by removing the wheel covers (if installed) and by breaking loose the lug nuts. Only turn the lug nuts about a quarter turn. This allows you to overcome the initial friction that keeps them tight while the wheels are on the ground. Also break loose the axle nut while the wheels are on the ground. For my vehicle it required a 30 mm socket that I checked out from the local auto parts store with a refundable deposit.
Now find a strong part of the frame or body under the car and roll the jack under that point. Raise the car high enough to get jack stands under two other strong parts of the body or frame, ideally at the same point on each side of the car.
Lower the jack enough so the majority of the weight is resting on the stands, but leave the jack under the vehicle supporting some of the weight for added safety.
Step 3: Step 3: Remove Axle Nut and Wheel
Now that the axle nut and lug nuts are loose and the car is raised, unscrew them completely and remove the wheel.
Step 4: Step 4: Remove Steering Linkage
The first linkage to remove is the steering rod (tie rod).
Start by using needle nose pliers to remove the cotter pin. Bend the pin so the ends are straight and remove it by pulling on the rounded end.
Next remove the castle nut with a socket wrench.
The last part of this may be more complicated than it seems. Begin by tapping the threaded end that you just removed the nut from with a wood or plastic mallet. If you only have a metal hammer then use a piece of wood between the hammer and the ball joint stud. If this does not work, you may need to hit it harder, just be careful not to damage the threads by hitting it directly with a metal hammer. You could also try installing the nut back on the stud partially so you are hitting the nut instead of the threaded stud. You can also hit the section the threaded rod is stuck in with a metal hammer as specified in the pictures.
Move onto the next step once it is removed.
Step 5: Step 5: Remove Stabilizer Bar Linkage
You will also need to remove the stabilizer bar linkage, since it may prevent you from pushing the lower arm all the way down. This should be a simple task, be sure you don't lose the nut, washers, and rubber bushings.
Step 6: Step 6: Remove Lower Arm Bolt
This bolt not only clamps the lower arm ball joint in place, but it runs through a small rounded slot in the ball joint pin. Remove the nut by holding the bolt and loosening, then the bolt should slide out.
Now the lower arm pin should also slide out from the bottom. You many need to tap on the lower arm with a hammer, any type of hammer will do this time.
Step 7: Step 7: Disconnect Steering Knuckle From Axle
The entire steering knuckle (what the wheel, brake disk, brake caliper, and shock/spring system are mounted on) should now be free enough to pull outward. Move it out just enough to remove the axle from the splined hole.
Move to the next step if only replacing the boot.
If you are replacing the entire axle then read this:
If your axle is bad you should remove the other end of the axle shaft from the transmission to remove it completely. There are several different axle designs and different ways to do this depending on the vehicle. There may be some sort of retaining clip holding the inboard end of the axle to the transmission, and if you remove the axle there are some extra steps you may need to perform before doing this:
1. Drain the transmission fluid first because it may spill out of the axle hole.
2. Replace the axle seals in the transmission before installing the new axle (The seals keeping fluid from leaking out while the axle is installed and spinning).
3. Install the new axle and re-assemble using the reverse of the previous steps.
This process can actually be a little easier than replacing the boot if done correctly. I recommend searching online or in a printed maintenance manual for your make and model vehicle for the specific method of removing the axle shaft as they may all differ.
Step 8: Step 8: Remove Old Bands
Begin by using a screwdriver to pry loose the banding holding the old boot on. The axle is pretty tough do you don't have to worry much about damaging the metal components or the old rubber boot. Other useful tools for this process are metal snips, wire cutters, and pliers.
Step 9: Step 9: Remove Old Boot
Once the banding is removed you can begin cutting the old boot off. Some useful tools for this job are utility/razor blade knives, wire cutters, snips, and pliers.
Once the old boot is completely removed begin cleaning off the shaft and bearings. Use an old rag to start wiping the initial debris away. To completely remove old grease or debris from inside the bearing, spray some carburetor cleaner or acetone in the bearing until no more grease or dirt is coming out.
Step 10: Step 10: Install New Boot
Begin by cutting the funnel so that the end slightly overlaps the large portion of the axle when installed. Use a utility knife to avoid creating jagged edges. Also make sure to remove all sharp edges with a razor blade to allow the boot to slide smoothly without catching or cutting.
Make sure you grease up the funnel (or cone of some sort) so that every portion is covered.
Now reverse the boot, and begin pushing it with a rag onto the cone with constant pressure. This could take some serious force! Be careful not to jam your hands or yourself into something!
Once you get the boot over the end of the funnel reverse it again so that it is the correct orientation for installation.
Apply liberal amounts of grease into and on the bearing. Apply the rest of the grease to the boot section near the bearing.
Step 11: Step 11: Install New Bands
The banding can be tricky, but with this kit you don't actually need a special tool. Follow the instructions given on the photos for more details. Basically you have to install the band, pull it tight while not allowing it to rotate, then pull the extra banding back the opposite way to create a bend in it. Then use pliers or a hammer to bend the tabs down over the extra band portion, and cut/bend off the excess.
Step 12: Step 12: Cut Away Excess Boot
The boot may have some extra material depending on the size of your axle. Cut off the excess boot as demonstrated in the photos.
Step 13: Step 13: Re-connect Linkages
Please use the correct torque specifications to tighten these linkages found in your vehicle specific manual or online.
1. Re-install the axle shaft into the steering knuckle.
2. Re-install the Lower arm pin, bolt, and nut. Tighten to specs (Tight!).
3. Re-install the stabilizer bar linkage and tighten nut to specs (Tight!).
4. Re-install steering linkage, tighten castle nut until tight and align castle nut slots with the hole in the ball joint stud. You want to allow the cotter pin to pass through the castle nut slots and the hole. Bend the ends of the cotter pin down to prevent it from slipping out.
Step 14: Step 14: Re-install Wheels
Install the wheel, install and tighten lug nuts and axle nut, then raise the vehicle enough to remove the jack stands.
Now lower the vehicle just enough for the tires to touch the ground to prevent them from turning.
Tighten down the lug nuts and axle nut to specifications (pretty tight!).
Lower the vehicle all the way and you are done!