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I'm trying to get a bearing on some mixed stories about problems with aftermarket axles. There's many stories about balancing problems with them that I'd like to substantiate.

My question is then what are the differences with aftermarket vs OEM CV axles? I'll list out a few of the differences I've come across online, does anyone know these differences to be accurate or can add to the list?

  • aftermarkets use solid axles while OEMs are hollow and thus the rotational inertia would be different.
  • OEMs use balancing weights in the center with a rubber disc clamped to the shaft
  • aftermarket parts use lower quality materials
  • aftermarket axles present shorter lifetimes
  • aftermarket axles use less grease

Are aftermarket to be generally avoided or is there a trick to getting them work like this fella in an Amazon review suggests:

There is a trick to after market quality. I put the axle in a vise first and break in the outer joint by moving it around until it smooths out a bit because these will vibrate if you just through them in.

Here's a collection of sources I've found online for this subject from that I've gathered here for data.


Honda Civic - CV Axle Snapped In Half

"The thing is with aftermarket axles regardless of the brand, you got to take it for a little shimmy to make sure it doesn't have torque wobble. And usually you'll notice that like let's say its usually at low speed, taking off at a stop sign, the steering wheel will you know have a semiaggresive wobble, where the whole car feels like a dog wagging its butt kind of, just shimmies back and forth. And usually it smooths out with speed, and it usually doesn't get better you know if you get an aftermarket CV axle. Subarus are the worst. You know we don't put any aftermarket CV axles in those, I'll buy the parts and just rebuild them."

The Axle Dilemma - OEM? Aftermarket? Rebuilt? Used?

If you have been in the DIY community for very long you have likely seen too many examples of aftermarket axles that are noisy right out of the box, that begin to leak grease/oil shortly after install, or that have fitment issues. While the price may be tempting, are they are worth the gamble? But hey, at least with the homokenetic style they are easy to swap out often!

2003 Jetta Vibration Diagnosis- Is it Driveline, Clutch, or other?

...shop agrees that if the owner takes it to a Volskwagon dealer and gets a diagnosis done and the diagnosis shows that it was something that the shop did that caused this problem they will pay the diagnostic fee and work with the owner on making the repair. Owner takes the car to Volskwagon dealer and without even having to look Volkswagon dealer has a diagnosis, very simple: it is a known problem that with after market axleshafts, there will be a driveline vibration or shudder, and that is the problem. So instead of the $200 axle shafts that the shop installed the owner will need have get like five or six hundred dollar OEM Volskwagon genuine part axleshafts and that will fix the problem.

related commentary to video

  • Juan Perez: Hello, from experience the VW dealer is correct. The solid shaft axles cause the vibration. I thought too that it was transmission issues since it is rpm dependent. Oem and aftermarket "OP Parts" brands do not cause this resonance. stay away from empi, advanced , napa, autozone as they are solid shaft design. Hope this helps and this time the dealer was not being a traitor.

  • Ray Aguirre: its the c/v axles, o/e axles "rods" are hollow and some aftermarket ones are solid thus these vdubs dont likey.

Lisle CV boot clamp pliers review and CV axles discussion

So let's talk about CV boots, axles, you know CV axles, the front wheel drive axles. Let's just talk about those in general. The past three years I've been working at a general repair shop, after market repair shop. We fix all types of cars, we dealt with mostly after market parts. We didn't really change the boots because it was just too time consuming and it wasn't really worth it. We just replaced the axles with new axles.

We would use aftermarket new, like from napa or advanced auto parts, or autozone someplace like that. It was usually just napa and advanced auto parts. I mean the axles were good for the most part. Sometimes we would have an issue where we'd get a vibration from the axle and we'd have to warranty it out. Which is why the factory axles are better. They're just better axles but its just a pain in the a** you know changing the boots out. Nobody really want pull the axle apart and change the boot because its just a greasy nasty mess.

So it's easier to just change the entire thing with something from the after market. But the chances of getting an after market axle that won't give you a vibration; you know there's a possibility there. I'd say 70% of the axles I did that were after market were ok I didn't have any issues or maybe the customer didn't notice any issues, or maybe I didn't notice any issues you know going down the road immediately, but who knows what came up you know in the future.

Generally the factory axles are much better, they ride smoother, they balance well, and if you can rebuild them, I mean especially if it's your vehicle, if you can rebuild them by putting a new boot on it and its not clicking or anything when you turn, just change that boot and put it back together you'll probably better off. Because I mean chances are you've got at least a hundred thousand miles out of it--I don't know if you're going to get get a hundred thousand miles out of an after market axle. I need to add the reason why we do the boots instead of replacing the axles at the dealer is because of the price of the axle. A new OEM axle costs anywhere from $500 to $700 dollars so cost wise its kind of prohibitive. You know customer doesn't want to spend $700 dollars on the axle plus two hours to install it.

  • We don’t do purchasing decisions - you decide how to spend your money. – Solar Mike Jan 19 '18 at 9:57
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    It's very hard to say in a specific case as there are many manufacturers and quality varies enormously. Volvo don't manufacture their own CV joints, find out who they buy theirs from and get it from them, you'll get the same part for less. – GdD Jan 19 '18 at 9:57
  • Not looking for a purchasing decision, just trying to substantiate these claims. I'll reformat the question later today to elevate the meat of the questions earlier in the body so they don't get buried with commentary and background. I know generally the debate between aftermarket vs oem but on this matter it sounded distinct with more complexity involved in nailing a reliable part. – jxramos Jan 19 '18 at 16:42
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Meh.

I don't agree. Often, the "aftermarket" axles are reman from OEM cores, so there should not be dramatic differences in the product.

The biggest failure is the boot, which allows the balls and tulips to shed lubricant, gather grit, and become sloppy/clunky.

The amount of tooling and effort required to rebuild these in-house leads me to buy quality remans (with a warranty). Since these are often 1/4 or 1/3 of OEM pricing, it makes perfect sense. Getting the original CV stubs out of the splines is the hard part. I lube and replace with reman units. If these should fail too soon (yet they don't), my customers would get new ones for free.

And I have a half dozen personal Subarus and related vehicles (Saab 92x) at my shop now. I have not experienced what you have. In fact, often Subarus are fun, as it is the exact same CV shaft part number at all four corners.

Your mil(e)age may very vary...

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A new one for free!!! Well thats all fine and dandy but who pays the tow bill? Same person has the issue of being stranded at a potentially dangerous location?

I know because i am a mechanic that shit happens, new parts fail almost as much as reman. So im not ripping on any company at all. Im just stating the facts, if you can find a better quality part, buy it instead of the crappy one. The hard part is knowing if its quality. I have seen so many parts fail not due to wear but do to a fracture in the casting, or internal stress from improper metalworking, a number of reasons. Not the part companies fault if they receive bad steel stock, for sure the part companies fault of the let an inferior product out without proper testing.

At the same time, as a mechanic i do know for a fact that not all products are better as the price goes up. Quality is what we want. How do you know the difference? Well you never wil,l plain and simple. Some mechanics do get use to parts that offen fail and parts that dont come back, but there is still exeptions to that. The day you say, " i have been using brand X of this product and its great" the next day your engine blows up.

Some companies can remanufacture to better then oem. Some are just poor, unreliable, and down right not safe. For all the years i have dealt with quality parts, and piss poor parts, i can tell you now.... you may have a buddy that has a cheap china part last forever while he beats the hell out of his car, while you get the expensive part from germany or japan or usa and baby that thing like its all you have left, yet it fails a day after warranty. TWICE. Its just the luck of the draw.

Always remember. There is quality stuff comes from piss poor places, and there is piss poor stuff comes from quality manufacturers.

There is no such thing as the BEST when a million happy customers agree, but a guy down the street bought it, failed and cost his life.

My personal opinion is, many oem parts are better, but no where near all. Some parts you say, WTF where they thinking when they built this sob, get the aftermarket and say, yeah thats how it should be. Somethimes you get an aftermarket part as say "well f@#$. Thats not even close to right.

Experience is the only way to learn. You can ask experienced people. But your experience will be different.

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