There's nothing weird involved.
If you know how to replace the CV boot on any other vehicle, you needn't read this thread. It's all very straightforward to a mechanically inclined person.
But, since this is the first time I've replaced a CV boot (rather than the entire axle), and I'm doing it on an ACE, I'm writing it up for the benefit of anyone who hasn't done one.
This process took about 90 minutes, including taking pictures along the way and watching a quick YouTube video on how to separate the CV joint from the axle shaft.
The irony is that it took longer to write this up (2 hours) than it did to do the work.
First, a note about CV boot bands and tools:
CV boot ends are slightly smaller in diameter than the axle, and have a groove for bands to fit into.
Axles also have grooves in them. The ends of the CV boots stretch over the axle and pop into those grooves.
CV boot bands clamp the ends of the boots, preventing them from stretching and popping back out of the grooves, and this also keeps water/grit out and grease in.
There are many different kinds of CV boot bands. Some of them require special tools to tighten, fold, and cut off the extra length of band.
Other kinds of bands are exactly the right length and have clips to hold the band in place once it is tight enough. If you're lucky, these don't need special tools.
Some CV boot kits come with zip ties instead of boot bands. The higher quality versions of these have a metal clip that holds the zip tie closed.
A generic CV boot band tool that tightens, folds, and cuts the band can be had for under $10, but the "good" ones are generally about $25.
CV Boot Kits:
You can get a Dorman CV boot kit for $17 on Amazon - but you have to look up the right part number to get the diameters right, it will come with a generic CV boot band, and you'll need a special CV boot band tool to work with the bands.
The Polaris CV boot kit costs about $35 plus sales tax from your dealer, and includes a CV boot, a tube of grease, and two bands.
The Polaris bands do not require a "special tool" to install.
The tool for the job:
recommend a needle-nose Vise Grip from Irwin Tools.
You can try to make do with any old needle nose pliers, or a Chinese knock-off needle nose locking plier, but if you don't have a genuine Irwin Vise Grip needle nose plier, I highly recommend getting one.
The genuine article costs more, but has tighter tolerances, which translates to less wiggle, so the plier does not twist and pop off of whatever you are trying to hold.
The challenge you will face in fastening the band is:
While following this procedure, remember one of the most important rules about working on vehicles:
If you find yourself forcing it, sweating/swearing, or hurting yourself from slipping or too much exertion, or starting to damage a part, you're doing it wrong.
Tools you will need:
- Keeping the tips of the tool on the pry points.
- Getting enough leverage to squeeze the pry points together.
- Applying enough downward force to hold the band together while not letting it roll around (a bench vise would have been helpful, in 20/20 hindsight).
- Getting the band snapped into the retaining clips once it is squeezed together far enough. If you have a third arm/hand, you're good.
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Remove the wheel
- Whatever you need to remove your wheels
- Jack and stands
- 15mm wrench
- 15mm socket and ratchet
- Flat head screwdriver
- Needle nose vise grip or pliers
- Sharp knife
- 27mm or 1 1/8" socket or wrench
- Rags or paper towels
- Rubber mallet or plastic dead blow hammer
- Pry bar or chisel/wedge of some sort
First, loosen your lug nuts a little, jack up the ACE and put it on stands (I recommend two stands - one for each side of the rear, keep it level) , finish removing the lug nuts, and remove the wheel.
Remove the brake caliper
You'll need the 15mm socket or wrench for this. There are two bolts.
Note: When the caliper is off, I recommend using a zip tie to hang it from the coil spring to keep it out of the way.
Remove the hub and bearing carrier
Pop the axle nut cap off of the hub, remove the cotter pin, and remove the axle nut (27mm or 1 1/16" socket or wrench) and washers.
Note: The washers are concave, not flat! Note which way they are on (mine were concave to the inside) so you can put them back on that way.
Pull the hub straight out to remove it. Wiggle it gently if it is tight.
The bearing carrier is next. Also 15mm, hold the bolt head and spin the nut off. Reassemble the bolt, washer and nut on the removed bearing carrier and put it aside.
Now your CV axle is free, and ready to come out.
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Remove the CV axle from the transmission
All it takes to get the axle out is outward force. You have to overcome the resistance of a small circle clip in a groove that you cannot see or get to.
Some people will say to just grasp the axle and give it a good solid yank - but I recommend against this. It might come apart in a way you don't want, and then it will be harder to remove and you might end up fixing both ends.
Instead, I suggest a small crowbar, or a chisel. You can put it right through the triangular hole in the rear of the ace and jam it between the transmission housing and the CV axle.
If you have a plastic one, so much the better, but I risked it by using a steel one.
I found that I could not get enough leverage to pry the axle away from the transmission, so instead I hammered the pry bar in, separating the axle from the transmission.
Once it popped out about 1/4", the circle clip was out of its groove (still couldn't see it) and I was then able to just pop it the rest of the way out with only a few pounds of force.
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Remove the torn CV boot
First you need to remove the CV boot band. I attacked it with a small flat head screwdriver, and just kept peeling and prying until it popped off.
I suppose in hindsight I could have used the needle nose vise grip to squeeze the band together until it popped loose, but my way did not take long.
Cut the boot off. The sharper your knife, the better. Don't cut yourself.
Inspect the CV joint
Now that the boot is off, you can see how much damage was done to the joint, if any.
If you are very lucky, you will have noticed your torn boot before a lot of grit could get in there and contaminate your grease.
I was very lucky (Thank you VERY much, caimin74, for calling my attention to the axles, so I noticed my torn boot right away), and there was very little grit in my grease.
I was able to just scrape out the contaminated grease from a very small area. If you are not so lucky, you'll need to remove it all with solvent.
Note: If you see any obvious wear or feel any slop in the CV joint, stop here and go buy a new one.
Or roll the dice on how long yours will last. Your call.
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Separate the CV joint from the axle shaft
You may have noticed that the hole in the CV boot is tiny, and the end of the CV joint is relatively big.
I recommend against trying to stretch the boot over the CV joint. I know women do something similar during childbirth, but I don't think it's a good idea to try it with a CV boot. :biggrin:
This is the fun part. Here is what I did:
- Wrap the good end of the CV axle with a leather glove to protect it and hold it with the bench vise, with the bad end downward.
- Hold the CV joint on the downhill side with one hand and pull downward while beating on the CV joint with a rubber mallet or plastic dead blow hammer.
- Make sure you're holding it so that when it pops loose, it doesn't drop and roll around, possibly damaging the threads and picking up grit from the dirty floor.
It doesn't take that much force to pop the CV joint off of the axle shaft. It's another "circle clip in groove" thing.
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Slip the boot over the axle and put the CV joint back on the axle shaft
Note: The big end of the boot goes outward. You'll feel pretty dumb if you put the boot on backward, and then have to take the CV joint off of the axle shaft again to fix it. This is not the voice of experience.
To put the joint back on the axle, here's what I did:
Stand the axle upright, good end down, with a pad under it to protect the end.
Slip the joint onto the axle until you feel resistance.
Beat on the threaded end with a rubber mallet or dead blow hammer until you feel it pop onto the shaft.
Wiggle and tug on it to make sure it's really on there (circle clip in groove, which you cannot see).
Now you can fit the boot ends into the axle grooves and put the bands on.
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Put some new grease in there
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Install the CV boot bands
I covered most of the gotchas in the foreword. Use a needle nose Vise Grip if possible. Be patient and careful.
I expected this process to be a pain in the butt, so I started playing some music that was soothing but upbeat to help me stay calm and positive.
There are two raised parts of the band that can be squeezed together with pliers while you snap the holes in the band down into the pointed raised bits that hold the band together.
It really wasn't that difficult for me. The smaller band took me about 2/3 of the duration of "Six Blade Knife". The larger one took about half of "Sultans of Swing".
I didn't swear or draw blood. The pliers did slip a lot though, and I wanted to pull a Zaphod Beeblebrox so I could see better and make it easier to get the band down onto the retainers.
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Put the CV axle back into the transmission
This is much easier than removing it.
Get it lined up, put the splines into the grooves and slide it in until you feel resistance.
Then smack the outer end with the rubber mallet or plastic dead blow hammer until the axle pops in (circle clip into the groove which you cannot see) and it's in there nice and tight.
Wiggle and tug on it to be sure. A loose CV axle is no fun, and can strip out the spline grooves, which gets VERY expensive.
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Put everything back together
Assembly is in the reverse order of dis-assembly.
If you wipe the old grease and grit off of stuff and apply a small amount of grease to the splines and shafts, it will go together a lot easier, and probably last longer too.
I wish I had an ACE service manual so I could give you torque specs on things, but I don't. So I just put them on "pretty tight" and called it good.
Admire your work
Examine your result and pat yourself on the back.
Give yourself a treat for a job well done!
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Finally, ask yourself if it was worth the effort, vs. paying the dealer to do it next time.
This will depend largely on many important factors:
How busy is your dealer is during this time of year - how long will it take them to get to your ACE?
Are you a control freak / perfectionist? Do you trust your dealer to get this job done right?
How valuable is your time - how much money could you have made at work in the time it would take you to do this?