What does CV axle replacement cost run for your vehicle?
CV axle replacement cost varies by year, make and model
If you have a torn CV boot or the CV joint is noisy or vibrating, many shops prefer to install a rebuilt or new CV axle, also called a half shaft. CV axle replacement cost varies by the cost of the part, but labor to remove the shaft is similar among most makes and models. Replacement involves remove the wheel, brake caliper, pads and rotor, disconnecting the tie rod and ball joint and removing the axle nut. Then the old CV axle can be removed from the steering knuckle and popped out of the transmission. Re-installation is just the opposite. The labor times usually run from one to two hours per side.
The cost of a rebuilt CV axle or new CV axle varies widely
Rebuilders often buy old CV axle “cores” from junkyards and rebuild them. So they pay less for CV axles if the car make and model sold in large quantities. For example, rebuilders pay less for CV axles for a Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry than they pay for CV axles from a Mini Cooper or Audi, simply because those models are rarer.
The size of the market also determines whether offshore manufacturers will offer new CV axles for the same price or less than rebuilt units. Here are some wholesale pricing examples for a 2010 Ford Taurus. To arrive at RETAIL repair shop prices for the CV axle, add 15% to these prices and then double that price. The reason for the 15% and doubling is that shops don’t buy their parts from online sources because they can’t tie up a repair bay for days waiting for the part to arrive. They buy from a local auto parts store and the wholesale prices from those sellers is usually about 15% higher than online sellers because online sellers always add shipping costs to the part. Auto parts stores have already paid for shipping and they have a higher overhead expenses. Plus, they usually deliver the part to the shop and that adds to the price. The shop doubles the part cost because that represents their profit on the part. They’re entitled to make a profit just like any other business.
A Cardone rebuilt CV axle replacement costs $55.89 from Rockauto.com.
A SURTRACK/TRACKMOTIVE NEW CV axle replacement costs $44.89 from Rockauto.com
A genuine MOTORCRAFT NEW CV axle replacement costs $140.79 from Rockauto.com
We know that Cardone is a reputable U.S. rebuilder and we know that Motorcraft quality should be equal to factory standards. But the $44.89 price for a SURTRACK CV axle is pretty impressive.
Should you buy a rebuilt or new CV axle shaft?
Consider the cost of labor before you make that decision. If you’re replacing both CV axles and the shop labor is going to be around 3-4 hours, that’s a significant investment (at $100/hr. it’s $300-$400). You may think you’re better off with a new CV axle, but new CV axles non-OEM axles are usually make in China. Some of them are such low quality that shops won’t even install them due to the high failure rate. Using the prices above, you’re probably better off spending more on a Cardone rebuilt unit instead of a buying a new unit from China. But if you’re getting the job done at a shop, ask what kind of experience they’ve had with new CV axle shafts.
CV boot is torn
The question I see most often from auto forum users is; “The shop says my CV boot is torn. Do I have to fix this right away?” Yes, you do. Once a CV boot tears, the spinning motion throws all the grease out of the joint. Then dirt gets in and grinds up the metal interior pieces. That may not sound like a big deal since you’ll probably replace the entire CV axle as a single unit. BUT, if you put off the repair, the dirt and grit can grind away the joint to the point where the axle shaft actually breaks. Once that happens, the axle spins around and destroys all components in its path.
Examine the photos below. This is a 2008 Subaru Outback with torn inner CV boots. If the axle shafts break, they’ll hit the power steering fluid lines on the driver’s side, the transmission cross member, and the tie rod. On the passenger side, a broken axle can destroy those same components plus brake lines and fuel lines. In other words, putting off a CV axle replacement due to cost, can ultimately cost well over several thousand dollars in additional damage if the axle breaks. How often does that happen? Often enough!
Can you replace just the CV boot?
If you catch the tear early on before all the grease has flung out, and the joint doesn’t contain any grit, you might be able to get away with just a boot replacement. But keep in mind that you have to remove the entire CV axle to replace the boot. A $20 CV boot is cheaper than a $125 CV axle, but the labor to remove the old boot, clean out the joint, repack with new grease and install the new boot is over and above the $300 to $400 labor to remove and replace the entire CV axle shaft.
Can you install a split boot?
Split CV boots are designed for do it yourself to install while the axle shaft is still in the car. You remove the old boot and as much grease as possible before cleaning the joint. Then you glue one seam of the new boot and slide it onto the CV joint. Now here comes the tricky part: you have to inject the new grease into the joint and boot without getting any on the second seam. Remember, you have to glue that seam. I’ve tried it—it’s not easy. If there’s any grease on the seam, the repair won’t hold. Even it you get the boot seam squeaky clean, it won’t last nearly as long as a real one-piece boot. In other words, if you’re really short on cash, have the time to do it right, and are willing to have it fail again, go ahead and install a split boot.
©, 2016 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat