CV Joints servicing & mainttenance (This is an easy but messy job!!!, the total time for both side was 8 hours non stop)

More textual information can be found on Tom Carrington  Web-site (i use some of is well written text on this subject, tom did a very good job, i just have better pictures than him, he he he...)

Note: You can click on most pictures for a larger view
Special parts & Supplies Needed:
  • 6 & 7mm allen head wrench or "triple-square" tool (depending on the year of your van), socket version preferred
  • CV Joint grease (Approx 4oz per joint)
  • CV Joint boots
  • Plenty of rags or paper towels
  • Old clothing
Have an 6 mm Allen socket and a 7 mm Allen, sand or shave  the end of the 7mm to get this one to 6.5mm (to get 6.5 at one end and 7 at the other end, see left picture). Why! in case some of the 6mm bolts are striped along the way!!!!!! If so, force the 7mm with a hammer into the Allen bolt. Remember to clean each Allen bolt hole with a pick before.

Another solution by Edward Nutter for the shave 7mmAllen: An easier solution is a 1/4" allen head. It's just .014" (.35mm) larger  than 6mm and is a convenient off the (U.S.) shelf solution for the same problem.

Step 1: Removing the axle shaft
On VW Vanagons, they are bolted to a flange protruding from the transmission on one end, and to a similar flange on the back of the wheel hub on the other. The bolts (6 per joint) will either be a 6-point allen head or 12-point "triple-square" design cap head bolt. (on most car you need to remove the spindle or wheel assembly / ball joint to get the axle out, it's much faster and easier on a Vanagon)


1A- Remove the outside 6 Allen screws first, if one screw is really stuck, you can stop the job and screw the other bolt back. The inner joint Allen bolts can be remove with a vice grip if stuck, not the outer one.
1B- Remove the inner screws. When all scews are remove, if the axle is stuck,  smoothly tap the shaft. Mark each joint (inner & outer) with a pen or tap some letters with a punch & hammer for further reference. Whip off the old grease.

Step 2:Remove the boot & mark all parts (Now that the joint is out, place the driveshaft in a vise, or use a C-clamp to secure it to your workbench)


2A-Before you remove the boot, carefully mark the outer side of the 3 main joint parts for further reassembling. What i did is I barely touch each outer part (side of the trany of the inner joint). with a Dremel cutting wheel. 2B- Remove the boot with a big flat screwdriver and a hammer. Slide the boot toward the midle of the shaft a few inches.
Note: rotate the joint (outer race) clockwise and counter clockwise and look for any play (loose)

Step 3: Remove the joint from the shaft


3A-Remove the C-retaining clip that secure the joint on the shaft. Here you can see all the internal component. Take note of the pink section, the small inner race portion is align with the outer race big section. This is very important, the opposite will work when reassembling but you will break the joint that way. 3B- If the joint appears to be stuck on the shaft, use a long punch and a hammer against the inner race to drive the entire joint off. Do not, at any time, use a hammer on the splined shaft or the outer race!
Note from Tom: Here's the really important part - Notice how the grooves for the ball bearings in the outer race are not equally spaced. The inner race also has large and small spaces between the ball bearing grooves. To assemble the joint correctly, make sure to align the thin spaces of the inner race with the wide spaces of the outer race. Be careful - You can do this wrong! In fact, the joint goes together easier when you are doing it the wrong way. If you assemble it the wrong way, the joint will bind when it tries to flex.

Step 4: Disassembly and cleaning of the CV Joint: (have fun...)


4A- rotate the inner race 90° and the bearing cage at 45° and pull those 2 out, the 6 balls should easily come out of the cage. 4B- After removing each ball from the bearing cage, rotate at 90° the inner race from the bearing cage and remove this one. Clean everything!!!! good luck!!! (i use engine cleaner and brake cleaner to remove all oil residue.)

Step 5: inspection of the joint parts


Ok, now it’s the time to decide if you replace the velocity joint or not. Here is few reasons that the joint should be replace:

  • Excessive play (loose) on the first check before disassembling (see above in red)
  • “All” ball position on the outer race or inner race are pitted or heavily damage
  • Broken parts
  • Fissured parts
  • When moving the joint, you feel or hear strange stuff

Mine was pitted only at one place (see picture), so what I did is to rotate the inner race to 1/3 of its original position and of course change all balls original position. That should give me another year or two of operation with those. Remember that I didn’t have any loose or play, I think that the pitted area was cause by dirt particle. Another good reason to change the grease.  

Note: the small mark on the bearing cage are quite normal

Step 6: Assembly of the CV Joint


6A- The cleaned parts. Make sure that all the "marks" you did on step 2 are on the same side 6B- Insert the inner race into the bearing cage the same way you did remove this one on step 4. Insert all balls (if your good) or only 2 ball on opposite side. Check if parts are on the right side and have the right alignment.
6C- It is easier to insert 2 opposite ball first (red arrow) and twist the inner race to insert all remaining ball one by one. Check if parts are on the right side and have the right alignment. 6D- All parts are back together. You can see the original marks (yellow arrow - just for the picture). Put some grease to hold everything if you are alone. (but i prefer to wait until i am sure that everything is OK before i put the grease).

Step 7:  Reinstalling the CV Joints on the shaft


  1. Insert the new boot first (put some grease, it help).
  2. Insert the CV-joint (check side!!!!). If he is hard to go in, tap on the inner race (green arrow).
  3. Put the NEW C-clip on the shaft to hold the CV-joint in place.
  4. Grease the CV joint outside and inside by pushing the grease firmly into each ball. Use all remaining grease inside.
6B- WARNING, the new boot act like a spring, the boot distance should be adjusted equally each side of the axle so the shaft as proper play each side and the CV-Joint is working on is center axe. Put a tie-rap (orange arrow) Grease (red arrow) C-Clip (Green arrow)

Step 8: Reinstalling the axle

Note: Some people suggest swaping/side the 2 axle, click here to see a picture

Install the drive shaft. Make sure it is well seated on the mating surface. Reinforced plates (Green arrow), New bolts, check torque (orange arrow). Tie-rap (Red arrow) Distance (Yellow arrow)
Hope that will help a few of you guys! Many thanks to Tom Carrington for is web site info and is permission to use some of is very well written text.