Diagnosing FWD axle problems

I could ask this in an automotive forum, but I’ll bet the collective Dope-o-Sphere can answer it just as well. I feel a little stupid having to ask this, but most of my heavy wrenching experience is on RWD cars…

I think my 2007 Odyssey has a bad CV joint - not too unexpected at 100k. Right now, I’m working on a history of what I had casually ignored as chassis creaks, a specific report of “funny noises” from the Mrs., who doesn’t drive the van often, and one quick trip around some corners - I have to go miles to find a parking lot big enough to turn circles in. I’ve been dismissing the noises as the artifact of ass-freezing weather (low teens to zero) on older bushings, slightly dry joints, etc.

I’ve been getting groaning and pops on left-turn acceleration for a while. Last night, I am pretty sure I got some clicking and pops in a right-hand circle at slow speed. Later today, I will find an open area and amuse the yokels with some amateur skidpadding in both directions.

So say I hear the characteristic bad-CV noises… how do I isolate them to one axle or the other? Which axle will make noise in which turning direction?

A CV joint can make noise turning left or right, going forwards or backwards. Usually you can hear that the noise is coming from one side and thus figure which axle is involved. Sometimes it’s not really clear which side is noisy, and if the noise can be duplicated in the shop there’s an opportunity to get under the vehicle and isolate it that way. Occasionally both sides are noisy, but that may not be obvious until the louder side is fixed.

Yeah, that’s kind of what I figured. I am pretty sure it’s driver’s side, since that’s where the noise is loudest, but I guess I won’t really know until I do a decent driving test and get it up on the rack to look. PITA in the winter because I have to move stored summer cars around through snow and slush to get a lift free… maybe I’ll just turn the radio up louder until spring. :smiley:

You jest, but I’ve seen lots of cases where a CV joint makes noise for over a year and still hasn’t actually broken. Unless the noise gets noticeably worse, you’re probably safe putting it off for a few months (assuming it is a CV making the noise).

Look under the van at the CV joints. Are any of the boots torn and maybe axle grease thrown about? If so there’s a very good chance that’s the bad CV joint.

Tip: turn the steering all the way to the right and then check the right outside boot. Next turn the wheel all the way to the left and check that one. Very seldom is it the inner joint/boot that is the problem.

I know. It was only partly jest - I just did a bunch of vehicle work in a 30 degree garage and having slushy shit on the cars and tracked all over the floor… sucks. I would just as soon not tackle another big job until the weather improves.

Yeah, I know. I just went through this with the Subaru I bought - I had dealer paperwork that said it had a bad axle, and did all the research and planning to replace them soon, and then the mechanic/dealer replaced them as part of the safety inspection. With $50 Chinese axles that probably have a 20k mile lifespan and shudder at idle already. sigh. I’d rather have had the OEM ones to trade for rebuilds - I am not sure raxles.com and the others take the cheap shit for core trades.

I haven’t done any more than the quick “oh-oh” checks listed above. I will do a more thorough drive test and get a look at the joints and boots soon. And then turn the radio up until at least pitchers and catchers report.

I know someone who drove with a noisy popping CV … and the brake system at that wheel fell off … he had to use the hand brake .

I can’t think of how that would happen. Typically the wheel is attached to the hub, which is connected to the car via upper and lower arms or an upper strut and lower arm. The brake is also attached the hub.

The axle goes from the transmission case to each hub but in no way mechanically supports or attaches the hub. A complete axle failure would leave no drive power to that wheel but should not cause it (or the brake) to come loose.

Possibly the vibration from the CV loosened the brake caliper bolts. That’s all I can think of.

Inside a cv should look like this

A crunching, grinding cv probably looks like this inside