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How do I change the CV Joints on my 2003 Acura TL?

My 2003 Acura TL 3.2 has been making creaking sounds when I turn around corners and I've been told that old, noisy CV joints are likely the culprit. How do I change them out?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I did this work on my own. I would like to share what I learned on this site. I wanted to write this because I was not satisfied with the instructions I've seen elsewhere on the internet about how to do it. However, I realize that I don't have all the answers, so I decided to instead write a narrative describing how I did the work. It would be great if someone more experienced could elaborate more about it.

I've posted this write-up on my personal web site along with some photographs that I took to illustrate what to expect. I hope it is helpful. http://danielsadventure.info/cvjointchange/index.html.

Let me also point out that the shop "AutoZone" that I refer to here is a chain of auto part stores in the United States.

Last weekend, I was visiting family where we have a large garage to do this sort of project. I purchased the new parts from a shop called "AutoZone". I tried to follow the directions I found on the internet to do this work, but after many hours of struggling, I wasn't able to do it. In order to get the job done, I returned to "AutoZone" and spoke to the clerk there about my troubles. I was delighted with the knowledge and insight that the people who work at "AutoZone" had regarding my trouble. Following their advice and with some help from family, the work got done on the passenger side.

I completed the work today on the driver's side in the same garage. The total time to complete the work on the driver's side was under three hours, including a short break. Here is what I did today:

First, I cracked the lug nuts on the driver's side, raised the car up on a jack, secured it with a jack-stand, and removed the wheel. When I remove the wheel, I can see the brake rotor behind. The assembly attached to the brake is known as the "wheel hub". The large nut in the center is called an "axle nut". On my particular car, this is a 36mm bolt. AutoZone will allow you to borrow a 1/2" drive 36mm socket for a $20 refundable deposit.

Next, my assistant removed the axle nut using a ratchet with a 4 foot pipe to extend the handle. This is absolutely essential because the axle nut is very tight!

There is a part behind the wheel hub called the "strut fork". It is a fork shaped connector that attaches to the strut (shock absorber). It is held in place with two bolts. I used a 14mm socket to remove to upper bolt. The lower bolt has a nut on one end. The bolt and the nut are both 17mm. I used two sockets at once: one to hold the nut in place, and the other to remove the bolt.

Next, I remove two bolts. There is one bolt up and to the right from the wheel hub. There is another bolt at the very bottom of the wheel assembly. Both are held in place with cotter pins. I pinched the cotter pins with a pair of pliers and carefully tapped them out with a hammer. Then I removed both bolts with a 17mm socket. I needed to use my pipe again to get enough leverage to remove the bottom nut.

The joint that the lower cotter-pin secured bolt goes into is called the "lower ball joint". The joint must be separated in order to remove the old CV joint. In order to get it apart, I used a tool specifically made for this purpose: a ball joint seperator. AutoZone will loan this tool to you for a refundable $15 deposit. The tool looks like a tuning fork. There is a rubber gasket where the joint comes apart. The proper procedure to seperate the joint is to place the U-shaped end of the seperator around the rubber gasket and pound on the other end with a hammer. Eventually, the joint will seperate.

Finally, with the lower ball joint seperated, I could lift the wheel hub assembly from the joint and pull it away from the CV joint. Once that was done, I found where the old CV joint was connected to the transmission. I pried the old CV joint out with a pry bar and tossed it in the trash.

I found installation of the new CV joint to be relatively straight-forward. I had one assistant hold the wheel hub assembly (It is heavy) out of the way while I slotted the new CV joint into the transmission. It took several mallet blows to drive the new CV joint all the way into the transmission. In order to avoid damaging the new CV joint, I tapped a block of wood against the CV joint instead of hitting it directly. I've read that a rubber or plastic mallet also works very well.

Once the new CV joint is installed in the transmission, I simply reversed all the previous steps to put the car back together.

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Nice write up! Did you take any pictures of this? May add value to your answer! –  Gabriel Mongeon Dec 26 '11 at 14:49
    
As I linked in my answer, the photographs I took are available on my personal web page. –  Rice Flour Cookies Dec 26 '11 at 19:23
    
What I think would be very helpful would be if someone with more knowledge could tell what similar vehicles this same information applies to. –  Rice Flour Cookies Dec 26 '11 at 19:30
    
I've overlook that, sorry... I'm not sure that this will apply to every similar cars, but I think any car that have the same kind of suspension will be similar. –  Gabriel Mongeon Dec 26 '11 at 20:12
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