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by Eddie Carrara
Car clicking noise while turning is common in front-wheel drive vehicles. I was fixing this noise on several different cars per day at one point in my automotive career.
A clicking noise while turning in a front-wheel-drive car is usually caused by damaged or worn CV joints. CV joints are not the only cause of a clicking noise, but it ranks high when it comes to noises when turning from my experience.
The CV joint allows flexibility at each end of the axle shaft as the vehicle is going down the road. CV joints on a car are similar to the ankle and wrist on the human body. Imagine trying to walk with ankles that are ridged and had no flexibility, or try doing anything with your hands if your wrists were stiff.
Your wrists and ankles allow movement in any direction to the hands and feet. If you didn't have ankles and wrist, you would eventually end up breaking your arm or leg; it's the same with axles. If you didn't have a CV joint at each end, the axle would break because there is no flexibility.
CV stands for "Constant Velocity," no matter what angle the axle is at, it will supply the same amount of force to the wheel from the transmission, without any extra energy from the engine. A CV joint consists of ball bearings mounted on an axis or wrapped in a cage, assembled at the end of a shaft (axle). A large rubber boot completely seals the CV joint from external elements (moisture and dirt) and seals in axle grease.
The grease inside the CV joint is permanent grease. There is no reason to replace grease inside a CV joint. Unless exposed to the elements, the grease will remain useful. The joint could become exposed to the dirt and water if the boot rips open or if the boot becomes punctured from debris or human error. Also, the boots bands can become loose over time and could leak grease.
If caught in time, and the joint is not making any clicking noise, it is possible to replace the boots and bands, repack the joint with new grease, and extend the life of the joint for another 100k miles, but only if the CV joint is not making a clicking noise.
When a car makes a clicking noise from the front of the vehicle while turning and accelerating, the cause is damage to the CV joint. Once the joint makes noise, you cannot add grease to the damaged joint and make the noise go away. The damaged CV joint needs replacing.
It is possible to clean the debris out of the CV joint and repack it with new grease to slow the joint's destruction, but the noise will never go away, and eventually, you will need to replace the CV joint.
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