Constant Velocity Joints or CV joints allow a rotating shaft to transmit power through a variable angle, at constant rotational speed, without an appreciable increase in friction or play. They are mainly used in front wheel drive and all wheel drive cars. However, rear wheel drive cars with independent rear suspensions typically use CV joints at the ends of the rear axle half shafts.
These joints are very strong, and are usually highly over specified for a given application. Maintenance is usually limited to checking that the rubber gaiter (dust/weather boot) that covers them is secure and not split. If the gaiter is damaged, the grease that the joint is packed with, will be thrown out.
The joint will then pick up dirt, water, and road deicing salt and cause the joint to overheat and wear, and the grease can also contaminate the brakes. In worst case, the CV joint may disjoin causing the vehicle to stop moving or lock up rendering the car incapable of steering. Damaged CV joint gaiters will usually cause a car to fail a vehicle inspection.
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