CV joint diagnosis (1 Viewer)

eikelben

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Background
About 6 months ago purchased a '93 Land Cruiser with 284k (currently at 290k). The previous owner appeared to take great care of it with receipts to prove it. Had a full engine rebuild at 265k, just under 3 years ago, and had the work below done 1.5 years ago at 279k. Before buying the truck I spoke with the independent mechanic that he had do all the work for about an hour on the phone – seemed like a great guy, very meticulous in his work (as evidence of all of the write-ups on the invoices, similar to below). I'd happily take the truck back to him for service, however being 8 hours away, it's not an option. The truck has 35" tires (315 75-R16 KO2s) with an 3" OME lift. Truck has done little to no off-roading beyond a dirt road as far as I'm aware.

The issue
Being new to a solid axle configuration (although I'm no stranger to working on vehicles / motorcycles) the noise I'm getting appears to be a CV joint – the classic popcorn-popping sound when pulling away from a stop with the wheel turned to the right or left, (particularly when ascending a slight incline at same time). However, when looking back over the service history, it seemed odd to be encountering an issue with the Birfield when it was so-recently serviced.

Not related, front and rear sway bar bushings have all been replaced since purchasing. Vehicle tracks straight and true on the highway (honesty I can't believe how refined this vehicle feels for it's age).

Is there anything I can test definitely to verify that is indeed the issue? Am I totally overlooking something more or less obvious? Thoughts in general?

Thanks in advance for your time.

Invoice from previous owner:
Customer states that the front Birfield joints are leaking, recommend replacing seals, wipers and bearings. Removed front wheels from vehicle, removed brake calipers and pad assemblies. Removed dust cap and circlip. Removed otter flange for 4WD. Removed lock nut, stake nut, lower preload nut and preload washer. Removed outer wheel bearing. Removed hub assembly from vehicle. Removed back side dust seal and inner wheel bearing. Removed rotor from hub and steam cleaned all parts. Pressed out both the inner and outer wheel bearing races and pressed in new wheel bearing races. Packed new wheel bearings with grease and installed into hub. Reinstalled rotors onto hubs and installed rear dust seal into hub. Removed Birfield snout from outer housing with dust plate and wheel seal. Removed Birfield CV axle from vehicle. Removed upper and lower trunion bolts and pins. Removed outer housing from Birfield joint. cleaned out all old grease and steam cleaned housing. Cleaned joint ball and buffed with scotchbrite. Removed axle seal from housing and replaced with OEM axle seal. Removed Birfield felt ring, rubber seal, rock guards and plate. Greased up inner axle housing and joint. Removed and pressed out both upper and lower trunion bearings. Packed new trunion bearings and installed outer housing. Packed Birfield with grease and installed CV joint into differential housing. Installed Birfield joint sweep seal, ring and felt. Torqued rock guards to spec. Torqued trunion pins to spec. Re installed front snout and filled Birfield with grease. Installed new front seals and gaskets. Re installed dust shields and ABS sensor. Installed front hubs with new bearings and seals. Set preload to specification for both front hubs with new bearings. Installed locking clips and lock nut. Re installed hub flange and dust caps with circlip. Filled axle housing with gear oil and test drove vehicle. Drives normal at this time. Inspected both front Birfield joints and there is no leaking at this time.

Parts installed:
Toyota front axle rebuild kit for Birfield joints
NTN wheel bearing - Toyota Genuine
Front hub wheel seal
Front axle seal- Toyota Genuine
Mobil 1 Synthetic wheel bearing grease
Steering knuckle bearing - Trunion bearing
Front wheel bearing- Toyota Genuine - Timken
Mobil 1 Synthetic 75W-90 gear lubricant LS - With limited slip friction modifier
 
Joined
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Looks like the mechanic did not remove the axle shafts from the CV joints (Birfield/Birf) which makes it difficult to fully inspect the inside of the bell or cup of the Birf for wear, and at that mileage you'd expect wear.

It's not clear what/where he packed with grease; he stated:

Removed Birfield snout (?Spindle) from outer housing with dust plate and wheel seal. Removed Birfield CV axle from vehicle. Removed upper and lower trunion bolts and pins. Removed outer housing from Birfield joint. cleaned out all old grease and steam cleaned housing. Cleaned joint ball and buffed with scotchbrite. Removed axle seal from housing and replaced with OEM axle seal. Removed Birfield felt ring, rubber seal, rock guards and plate. Greased up inner axle housing and joint. ( so did he smeared grease on the inside surface of the steering knuckle?)

Removed and pressed out both upper and lower trunion bearings. Packed new trunion bearings and installed outer housing. Packed Birfield with grease and installed CV joint into differential housing. Installed Birfield joint sweep seal, ring and felt. Torqued rock guards to spec. Torqued trunion pins to spec. Re installed front snout and filled Birfield with grease.

Above he referred to the knuckle as a housing (steam cleaned housing),
so did he mean to say he filled the housing (knuckle) with grease? But then later he says he "greased up the inner axle housing and joint"

It appears the mechanic packed the Birfield CV joints with grease, albeit with the axle shafts still in place (OK, but not the best method IMHO because you can't clean out any grit that's gotten inside the bell or cup of the CV joint and can't inspect them for wear).

He refers to the Birfield "Snout" (which appears to be the Spindle?) and states, after installing the Front Snout that he then filled the Birfield with grease (but he already did this??).

Did he mean to say he stuffed grease into the spindle tube, or filled
the steering knuckle with grease after installing the Spindle? This is possible if he pumped it in via the inspection port or ABS port.

Either way, sounds like worn and/or dry CV joints; could be he didn't pack enough grease into the steering knuckles. You can get a rough idea of the amount of grease inside the knuckles by looking into the inspection ports
and sticking a long screwdriver into the knuckles via that port and pulling it
out; if it comes out almost dry then there's not enough grease.

You can also swipe your finger on the swivel balls where the steering knuckles swivel; start at the top and slide your finger down to feel for a grease level.

If the knuckles are dry you can pump a tube of a high Moly content grease (Valvoline Palladium, NAPA sells it) into each knuckle via the inspection ports to see if that helps.

One tip/trick (next time) to possibly get rid of the clicking is to swap the CV joints side-to-side (left to right, right to left) to even out the wear (the left side CV joint tends to wear faster than the right). FWIW I did this to my 96 FZJ80 10 years and 70,000 miles ago, no clicking since.
 
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eikelben

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Mechanic notes don't reflect new axles or birfields.
I did notice that – is there a "standard" threshold on when to replace or not replace them preventatively or just when you encounter an issue? At very least it seems they would have been inspected thoroughly.

I guess the followup question to that is what to replace them with? Sounds like OEM isn't the way to go in this instance?
 
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Regreasing won't fix a worn birf. Ive reversed them AND cleaned and relubed to no avail. Hell even cheaper brand replacements can click pretty good under load when brand new.

And OEM is like the ONLY way to go unless you wheel hard and desire chromo stuff.
 

eikelben

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You can get a rough idea of the amount of grease insde the knuckles by looking into the inspection ports
and sticking a long screwdrive into the knuckles via that port and pulling it
out; if it comes out almost dry then there's not enough grease.
I did check that when I originally got it home and found the level to be at about ⅔ full - which if I am not mistaken is the acceptable level? That said, once it has gone dry (if that is indeed the case) I would assume replacement is advised as opposed to regressing and crossing my fingers?
 
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I did notice that – is there a "standard" threshold on when to replace or not replace them preventatively or just when you encounter an issue?

I guess the followup question to that is what to replace them with? Sounds like OEM isn't the way to go in this instance?
Mine have been clicking for 5 years. I wheel moderate trails. They are starting to click in high range now. Haven't decided or researched what to replace with yet, but it's on the top of my to do list.
 

eikelben

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And OEM is like the ONLY way to go unless you wheel hard and desire chromo stuff.
Perfect. That's the information I'm seeking – I don't do anything with my Cruiser like what I see people do on YouTube! I'm primarily interested in reliability since some of the areas we go are quite remote and without support / cell service.
 
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I'd recommend URW brand from partsouq for light duty replacement. The are like $80 each compared to like $400+ each for OEM and work well as they are at least japanese made.
 

eikelben

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The are like $80 each compared to like $400+ each for OEM and work well
Since this is my only vehicle and I plan to keep it indefinitely, I'm willing to put in the money to keep it reliable, just don't want to buy more than I need.

That said, due to the remoteness of where I take the truck, saving the money up front may not be worth it in the end. Considering something like RCV Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser 4340 Chromoly Birfield and Axle Set (CVJ2474-P-RCV) or Longfield Axle Shaft and Birfield Joint Kits 301720-1-KIT. Anyone with experience, please feel free to weigh on these or other (better) options.
 
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The issue with chromoly bits is that the have a lot of of resistance to torsional breakage but the the material is inherently softer and will wear much faster. With our full time 4wd rigs that is a big consideration since those parts are always is motion.
 
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I've had good luck with Cozza, and I beat on them fairly hard. I haven't run them for 250k miles, which is how long my OEM birfs lasted, but that was mostly street time. For the price, even if I have to replace them every 50k I can justify them as a consumable. They've lasted about 25k so far with no signs of trouble.
 
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That's how I feel about the URW ones I have. Which I must say look exactly the same as those posted above. Probably made on the same machines. :meh:
 
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Someone said regreasing won't fix worn birfs or that swapping won't help,
well, it sorta depends on what the starting point is (how worn the Birfs are) and what the goal is IME.

Of course grease will not replace worn metal, however, if the mechanic did not properly grease/pack the birfs and knuckles, then low grease can cause clicking with servicable Birfs IME.

If however the goal is to have all new parts with new vehicle reliability, and cost is no object, then of course new OEM CV joints, new axle shafts, new spindles, bearings, etc,etc would be better (and cost around $2500).

When I swapped my CV joints side-to-side it was meant as a temporary
fix (I also staked my worn spindles at the same time) as money was super short. Turned out I've put 70,000 miles on the vehicle since then, no issues.
FWIW.
 

Howard705

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Check the VC isn't frozen up. Mine was and clicked bad. Removed it and clicking all but went away. Probably caused excessive wear driving it with VC so bad for 30k miles.
 

eikelben

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If however the goal is to have all new parts with new vehicle reliability, and cost is no object, then of course new OEM CV joints, new axle shafts, new spindles, bearings, etc,etc would be better (and cost around $2500).
Well, I certainly can't say cost is no objective, however as a daily driver reliability is of higher importance than saving a buck on the front end. Additionally, there is some value in having it done and moving on with my life, instead of knowing it's always likely to fail at an inopportune moment. At least that's my luck…
 

eikelben

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Wanted to follow up with you all. @Kernal has been assisting me with some troubleshooting and looks like the CV joint will need to be swapped and/or replaced. The PO's mechanic used Mobil 1 Synthetic wheel bearing grease (102481) instead of the proper grease. The level was slightly low so I added some Valvoline Heavy Duty Palladium Grease (3% Moly). The noise still persists; can't say it's necessarily any better but I'd like to think adding the grease helped. Given the time of year, I'm hoping to push it off till warmer temps are in the forecast. Fingers crossed that decision doesn't come back to bite me in the ass. Thanks again to those who provided insight.
 
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Like I said, my birfs have been clicking for 5 years, with moderate wheeling each summer. They are just now making more noise while in high range, but I do have a axle seal that failed and they need grease.

I don't think putting it off till spring or summer will hurt anything. I don't think they will suddenly grenade.
 

eikelben

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Just another follow-up for posterity - ended up pumping some additional grease into each side (20 additional pumps, 100 total) and after driving a bit, I definitely can say the noise is reduced. I do know the right recipe to get the noise to happen, but under daily driving, it's mostly absent.
 

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