July 2003: Suspension Rehab, Part II - CV Joints


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OK, here's a new subject for you: CV Joints. I've not seen this covered before, so I felt like it was worthy of taking notes and good photos to show what's involved. If you haven't looked under your car before, there is one of these attached to each side of the rear suspension. One end bolts to the differential, the other to the rear stub axle. The rubber boot contains the CV or Constant Velocity joint which can flex in two different directions at once depending on the position of the rear wheel at that moment. In essence, it's part of the magic of a 2002 - it's the link between the engine and the wheels on an independent rear suspension as in all modern BMWs since the Neu Klasse period cars were introduced. Here below is the before and after of how most of these items look after 28 years. Depending on where you live, and what time of year you drive, these could be like this in a couple of years.  They usually don't go bad, but need TLC. You simply buy the CV Joint Boot kit (4 needed, 12-20$ each) from a parts house and then follow my directions to get you back in the saddle again. Note: I'm making the assumption you know how to get them off the car before we start. I'll document the installation steps later as the rest of the suspension is done.
Once you get them off, you want to inspect the insides by popping off the cover with a flat bladed screwdriver. Here is one with and without the top covers.
Ok, you will need to remove the bolts carefully and place them in solvent. I use basic Kerosene over night as solvent. Get some of the metal bristle tooth brushes available at auto parts stores to clean the crud off.
You will have a set of three like this for each end of the half shaft. If they are gold, as these, they are original. If black, they are the hardened replacement bolts.
Next, remove the straps holding the boot on. Some are screw type, some are just straps. Either way, discard them as they are no good anymore being on the car for so long. The boots crack with age over time.
Using a sharp knife, such as an Exacto, cut off the boot.
Wearing good gloves, because this is a Moly grease and it gets into everything, pull off the boot.
Ok, here's an overview of the business end of the CV Joint. Note the yellow lines, as if your unit comes apart, you will need to carefully reassemble it (ask me how I know). In order to assemble the ball bearings one at time, you will need to first align the spider and the ball bearing race exactly as shown in this picture. Then you rock the ball bearing race back and forth, one at a time adding the ball bearings back until complete. This may take you a couple of times to get the hang of it, but it's like a Rubik's cube puzzle.
Inside is a retaining clip. Use a screwdriver or circlip type pliers to remove this. I've propped it up here for clarity to show you how small it really is.
Ok, take it off and place it away until you are ready to reassemble.
In a vice (if you're lucky) or a press, you will need to push the shaft out of the CV joint assembly. I used a punch in that recessed area of the shaft to knock it on through so it could be completely cleaned.
After the assembly comes loose, there is a cupped washer here on the shaft. Please note it points upwards toward the CV joint and goes on first before reassembly of the CV joint itself.
Don't forget this washer. It's unique to all the parts you are removing.
Ok, at this point you start the cleaning process as follows:
HALF SHAFTS: With either a wire wheel or bead blaster, remove all corrosion, paint and seal up from future corrosion as desired.
CV JOINT: Use a strong solvent. I use CRC BrakeKleen2 (green can) to rapidly remove the old moly grease over a plastic bag lined trash bag, along with compressed air to get it all out.

Well, It looks like this when clean. Note the position of the ball bearings here after reassembly and refer to the previous picture for that lineup. Note that this is the end that faces out towards either the stub axle or the differential.

This is the side that faces inward, toward the half shaft itself. Spray paint these with either Krylon or similar in a satin black finish. I used a Dremel with a wire wheel to remove all the paint.
Ok, now load up the joint with the new CV joint moly grease, loading up both front and back sides of the bearings. It should look like this when you're ready to start.
Once lubed up, slide the rubber boot onto the shaft. Getting it over the big wide mouth part is not hard, just takes some practice on the first one, the rest are easy once you get the hang of it. Add the stainless steel hose clamps provided in the CV Joint boot kit after you've positioned the boot properly.
Once side down, one to go.
Repeat the process on all 4 ends. I chose to rotate the location of the stainless steel clamps in order to not put all the tightness in the same location.

Repeat the installation process. Put the cupped washer back on and then pound the CV joint back onto the half shaft. Add the retainer clip and put the dust cover back on with a small hammer.

Set these aside until the suspension is ready to accept them. Admire your work... drink a beer! You just saved yourself about $400 from the price of a set of new ones!

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