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#2167972 - 02/11/11 08:58 AM CV Axle fell out!
swalve Offline

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 588
Loc: Chicago, IL
Hello all-

I searched and found only one thread referring to this, and it was for a new install.

About a year ago, I replaced both CV axles on my 1997 Grand Prix. They were Autozone parts- looked really well made. I think they might have even been new, instead of reman.

Everything was fine, up until a couple days ago. I was coming around an expressway flyover ramp when I heard a "thunk" and the speedometer pegged itself at about 120 mph. Revvs stayed about the same. I pulled over, and once I stopped, the speedometer still said something like 30 mph. I put it into park and the speedo went down, and I heard a "wizzz, clink" as it went to zero.

Went around and looked under the car, and saw that the axle has fallen out of the transmission. The boot was torn and grease was everywhere, but the axle still looked to be intact. Everything else looks more or less right- the engine is still in its mounts, the tie rod isn't broken, the ball joint is still intact, etc.

Luckily, I have AAA and they were amazingly fast (15 minutes!) and towed me home. I haven't really looked at it since, because it has been really cold out, and I've been busy with other things.

Anyway, my question is: how can an axle fall out?? From looking at diagrams and just how hard it is to install one, the parts are sort of locked into place. There is what seems to be about 4 inches of play before the parts can separate. Since when you jack up a car, the axle extends pretty far and still doesn't separate. So how in the heck can this happen when the car is sitting on all four wheels? AND when the part has functioned fine for all this time??

EDIT: forgot to mention. When I got it home, I jacked it up to try and pop the axle back into place. I couldn't do it, so I dropped it back down. In doing that, the axle did pop back in. At least enough for me to be able to pull up a couple feet in the driveway. So it is still at least marginally intact.

(I'll report back with pictures if I see anything interesting when I look at it this weekend.)

Edited by swalve (02/11/11 09:02 AM)

#2167985 - 02/11/11 09:11 AM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
eljefino Offline

Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 27266
Loc: ME
Missing spring clip? Did you check your tranny oil level, I think it pours out when you have an axle out.

#2167987 - 02/11/11 09:13 AM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
Johnny Offline

Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 14013
Loc: Retired | Wausau, WI
Well, we have had some really strange/bad weather. Did you drive through any deep snow that might have gotten compacted in there and refroze in to a solid block of ice causing a separation?

#2168003 - 02/11/11 09:41 AM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
javacontour Offline

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 8431
Loc: Illinois
What Johnny said above.

Is it possible you have some worn or broken engine/transmission mounts and hit the "right" geometry that pulled the axle out of the transaxle?

You either have to reboot, or replace the axle now anyway, so I'd double check the axle and look at both your suspension and your mounts.
network down, IP packets delivered via UPS -BOFH

#2168014 - 02/11/11 09:56 AM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
Trav Offline

Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 12300
Loc: MA,
So the axle is intact and came right out of the transmission?
The only thing i can think of is something bound in the CV joint(s) so they/it could not expand,if the joint is stuck/frozen for whatever reason the shaft could pull out.
Very unusual but strange things happen.

If it was new it was probably a Chinese part,the CV joints are iffy at best.
I would get a couple of good used ones with boots still intact and re grease with Redline CV grease and new thermoplastic composite Rockford Dura Boots.

Rockford boots will out perform and outlive almost anything on the market.Made in U.S.A. If they don't list your car call them they will have it if they dont they will make it,i got them for my 2000 GP and Expedition for about $30 a side,these things are tough as nails.
Stay clear of Cardone rehashed axles they have very poor QC.
ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.

#2168058 - 02/11/11 10:32 AM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
IndyIan Offline

Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 6650
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Maybe its the wrong axle? It sounds too short. Or your motor mounts are really shot and the engine has shifted alot?
07 Focus ZXW, 5spd manual, 115km MM F1 5W20
06 CRV, 5 spd auto AWD, 230km

#2168073 - 02/11/11 10:43 AM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
defektes Offline

Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 3216
Loc: Hesperia, CA, USA
make sure to check transaxle oil, as some can leak, especially when in use on a freeway. This is why I do not use autozone parts, nothing but bad luck with them.
2002 GMC Sierra 5sp. 4.3L 145K ST3980 E-Core
Chevron Supreme 5w-30, Amsoil Synchromesh In Tranny
Valvoline SynPower 75w-90 Gear Oil In Rear

#2168173 - 02/11/11 12:30 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
gathermewool Offline

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 4270
Loc: New England
I've only ever replaced a CV axle on one car, my old Subie, three times frown

The tranny side of the CV joint was splined into the tranny and held by a spring clip. The hub side was splined into the hub and held into place by the axle nut. Regardless, the control arm will only maneuver so much, so unless the axle is too short in comination with no tranny side spring clip, I don't see a way, in my limited experience, that it could come out.
14 Forester XT
GC 0W-30 + Subie blue filter
08 Civic LX (Auto)
VWB 5W-20 + Fram Ultra Guard filter

#2168222 - 02/11/11 01:21 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
Ironduke4 Offline

Registered: 05/07/04
Posts: 178
Loc: Chicagoland illinois
Maybe when you installed the axle on that side it did not lock into the transaxle and it took it this long for it to work itself out.
When you push the inboard joint in the transaxle you should hear a click then pull and push on it several times to be absolutely sure it is locked in place.
1994 Toyota Camry LE 5SFE Fram TG4967 and maxlife 10w30 150k miles

#2168569 - 02/11/11 08:01 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
stroked93 Offline

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 214
Loc: midwest
worn engine and trans mounts. this is not that uncommon.

#2169233 - 02/12/11 03:30 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
mechtech2 Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
It may not be the exact axle that you needed.
Internally, the parts could be worn out.
And like mentioned, sloppy mounts or suspension parts could contribute tho it coming out.

#2169310 - 02/12/11 05:18 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
onion Offline

Registered: 02/04/07
Posts: 2097
Loc: kansastan
The inner CV joint on that vehicle just isn't the sort of joint that can produce a lot of 'pull' against the shaft. Without the suspension geometry holding it together, that inner joint would just slide apart (except for the boot, of course). So I suspect that either it wasn't properly snapped in in the first place, or there's something wrong with the groove that the snap ring engages... or something wrong with the snap ring.

The engine/transmission mounts would definitely be worth checking, but I kinda doubt that that's the cause.
The invisible and the imaginary look exactly the same.

#2171086 - 02/14/11 04:01 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
mechtech2 Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
Right. Those snap rings are critical. New ones are often oversized and tight, and can't be felt to seat in and click. It's possible that they were being held by friction alone for a while.

#2172210 - 02/15/11 05:52 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: mechtech2]
swalve Offline

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 588
Loc: Chicago, IL
Thanks for the info, puts my mind at ease.

Did the work over the weekend. What happened was a c-clip on one of the bearings on the inner CV joint came out, and allowed the bearing to come apart. There were little rollers all over the place. So what must have happened is one of the remaining bearings ran over one of those rollers, and put a pulling force on the "cup" thing that snaps into the transmission and snapped it out. Then it was just a matter of time until the splined shaft worked its way out of the trans.

From what I can tell, the only thing keeping the shaft centered between the inboard and outboard cup things is the springiness of the boot. It *looks* like there is enough slack for it to do what it did, but not enough slack for it to fall all the way out and start flopping around destroying things.

I doubt it is the mounts, because they are setup in a way that makes lateral movement nearly impossible. Same with the suspension bushings. They would have to be GONE for the lower control arm to flex enough.

Yes, I'm sure it was snapped in correctly when I installed it. Last time and this time.

The grease looks kind of like some metal got ground up in it?

#2172946 - 02/16/11 02:52 PM Re: CV Axle fell out! [Re: swalve]
Merkava_4 Offline

Registered: 01/30/07
Posts: 12213
Loc: Clovis, CA