From: Unca Joel Walker
Bentley Page(s): 42.7 - 42.9
Symptom(s): Knocking noise while turning
This a fairly simple repair job ... but it is one of the messiest. wear very old disposable clothes (that you were going to throw away anyway). on the 1968-1979 buses, skinny people can do this without jacking up the bus. for us vanagons and fat people, you'll need to put the bus up on jack stands.
get an old refrigerator cardboard carton (from the trash around appliance stores ... they'll usually give you one). put this on the ground so you can lay on it while working. keeps you from getting cold and dirty. works better than a blanket cause you don't have to wash it when you get grease all over it ... and it's usually cleaner than the blanket to begin with.
clean off the joints as much as possible before you start work. then get the bolts off ... i usually leave one bolt in the wheel/trans while i take all the others off. then i can finger-loosen the bolt while i hold onto the axle shaft. do one side at a time. try to keep the axle oriented in the same relative position (i.e., wheel side to wheel, axle side to axle). why? well, i don't know ... but it's stuck in my brain that that's the way it ought to be done. KEEP TRACK OF THE LITTLE TWO-HOLE SPACERS AND LOCK WASHERS.
i put the axle into a vise on a bench (lucky me) and tap the metal ring on the boot (with a hammer and punch/screwdriver ... gently) until the boot is disconnected from the cv-joint. DON'T LET THE JOINT TILT!! if you do, the joint is hard to get back straight and some of the balls may fall out. ** if you are replacing the joints with new ones, you don't have to worry so much here. in fact, keep the old joints and disassemble them, you can clean up the little balls and play Captain Queeg from Caine Mutiny with them. **
the joint should slide off the axle. on older buses, there may be a great big circlip on the end of the axle. you'll have to get this off first. later models do NOT have it, so i guess you can leave it off. Editors Note: Bentley sez "Always replace these." it's a real pain to get back on! Ed. Note: circlip pliers DO NOT LET THE JOINT GET DIRTY or into metal shavings or rocks or anything like that. also note the relative position of the joint and its markings ... so you can put it back on the shaft in the same way. (i.e., so the writing is lined up with the shaft in the same way they were). also watch for the other joint to suddenly want to fall to the floor ... cause you just removed half the weight. that is, the axle-joint will become unbalanced when you remove one of the joints ... be ready for it.
once the joint is off ... slide the old boot off, clean as much of the old grease as you can, and put the new boot on. then start cramming as much new grease as you can into the new boot. i use Valvoline Moly EP grease that which comes in a cardboard tube for about $1.50. i put one-half a tube into each joint/boot. it has been my experience that you can't put too much grease, but you can sure put not-enough. another grease is Texaco MolyTex EP2, in the tube.
squeeze some grease into the joint as well. once or twice, i've cleaned off the joint and regreased it ... but you have to be really careful about not tilting and so forth. i don't think it will hurt to just re-grease it without cleaning. if you can get most of the old grease out, the rest can be cleaned nicely with 3M Brake Cleaner in the spray can ... it works really well, but the can doesn't last too very long (the way i spray it all over the place).
clean up the outer edges of the joint, and the inner edges of the new boot flange (the metal part), then get the boot flange started onto the joint. be sure to look at the other joint (still on the axle) to make sure you're putting it back on correctly. tap the boot flange gently with a hammer to get it 'seated' onto the joint.
now to the other joint ... the other one on that same axle.
then get back up under the bus and put the axle back in. be sure to tighten the bolts back to specs. i always use the porsche star-hole bolts to replace the old vw-bolts. costs extra and you have to have a special tool to remove/tighten them, but they don't round out and can be removed or tightened easily even when greasy. they cost about $1.30 per bolt and you'll 24 of them! :) lots of people don't do that. :) you'll need a few (say, six or more) extra bolts ... get them from a junk yard or FLAPS. why? cause several will round out as you take them out. also get at least two (2) of the little hex head wrenches/socket thingies. these round off, too.
putting the axle, with both joints on it, is the hardest part ... it's heavy. i put a couple of bolts through each joint and try to get one of the bolts started at each end ... then i can let go of the axle and put the other bolts in. BE SURE TO PUT THOSE LITTLE DOUBLE-HOLE SPACERS BACK. AND DON'T FORGET THE LITTLE LOCK-WASHERS!
Once you've got it all buttoned up and secure, torque down the bolts (check the bentley book, but i think it's 33 ft-lbs).Ed. Note: It IS 33 ft. lbs. then drive the bus for about 300-500 miles, and re-torque all the cv-joint bolts.
i'm sure there are several things i've left out ... but i can't think of them right now. it's not a 'difficult' job, but it is a messy one. try to keep things clean. both sides are the same, and each joint on each axle is the same. the cv-joints are the same for all buses from 1971-1991, and the boots are the same.
with sufficient grease in the boot, you'll be ok for many many miles . i've gotten to the point of doing it to my new buses (well, ok, the last new bus i got in 88) immediately after i get them. that was 73,000 miles ago and not a peep out of the joints yet. i feel like i ought to re-grease them this summer, though ... paranoid preventive maintenance. :)
the first time you do it, it will likely take you at least six hours to finish ... which means you'll have to get cleaned up to eat lunch/supper. best to have sandwiches or burgers ... so you don't have to go inside and side down anywhere.
be sure to have a set of vise grips handy. some bolts may not want to come off the joint (being already rounded out from before).
Mike B's method for removing the Outer CV bolts:
I have written about the best method for removal of the outer cv bolts in
previous posts, but here's the short version again;
1. Loosen the outer 46mm axle nut(s). (you do not have to put the van on
jackstands; drive-up ramps would be better if you're bigger than I am (and
I'm kind of big!)
2. Remove all of the inner cv bolts.
3. Bring the axle/ inner cv(s) off the flange(s) and gently let them hang
down. Cover each cv with a large ziploc baggy closed around the axleshaft
with a tie-wrap or a short twist of wire to keep the mess contained and the
4. Slide the outer cv(s)/ axle stubs inwards; out of the bearings.
5. Remove the now easily-accessible outer cv bolts, using vice-grips to
hold onto one bolt head while you loosen the other ones. Do NOT clamp the
axle in a benchvise or with pliers or a vise-grips, it'll cause surface
damage that will lead to failure. ON the last bolt, move the vice grips to
one of the loosened bolts to break torque on the last bolt.
This gives you the ability to properly clean the dirt, mud, grease. etc. out
of the hex or 12-point holes with a pick or piece of wire, before trying to
insert the appropriate tool and break torque on the fastener. I always tap
the 6- or 12-pt bit 'home' inside the bolt recess before applying force.
This method has worked for me for many years with a 100% success rate. Any
other methods I have tried have only resulted in stripped-out bolts.........
See Comments on this entry (F.W.I.W.)
Free in the Android Market, the Vanagon Rescue Squad app for Android
phones. Scan the QR or search the
Market for Vanagon.
NEW! Now on the App Store for iPhone and iPad.