Cv Axle Repair / Replacement Options

outback97 Oct 26, 2020

  1. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    Hey guys, I was crawling around under the '06 this weekend and noticed that it looks like the CV is slinging grease around.


    We have a little over 120K miles on it and I believe the half shaft is original. There's been no noticeable clicking or clunking or vibration from this CV. I believe it's fairly recently that the boot started allowing grease out, so I think it's still mechanically in good shape.

    Since we acquired our second Xterra a couple years ago, this one pictured is mainly used by my wife for running errands around town and occasionally desert day trips. It is currently only driven ~2K - 3K miles in a year.

    I'm looking at options, not in any particular order.

    A) New OEM half axle for $450 or so

    B) Used good condition OEM half axle (availability and price unknown, have posted a WTB on local group)

    C) New aftermarket half axle for $100 to $140

    D) Remove current half axle and re-boot with a Nissan kit for $80 or so. Perhaps there's aftermarket ones that are good at a lower price point.

    E) Use a split boot kit for $30 or so.

    I know in almost all cases OEM parts are better than aftermarket, but what is the mode of failure with aftermarket? Wearing after 40K miles instead of 120K miles? I could afford option A but if we get a decade of service from option C then that seems like a viable choice. On the other hand, I don't want to compromise safety for a few bucks, so if the failure mode of a lesser aftermarket one is grenading while driving down the highway, then that's not worth it.

    Any aftermarket CV's that are considered better than others? The how to linked below references a Duralast one.

    If I'm rebooting, it would probably make sense to do both boots while it's out on the workbench. I'm guessing one side (inner or outer) will be easier to remove and you can do both boots by just removing one side?

    I did a lot of work on the front suspension (new UCA / LCA / tie rod) within the past year and used antiseize where appropriate, so hopefully it should be pretty straightforward to take things apart. The only thing I'm slightly apprehensive about is pulling the CV out of the differential. Mainly because I haven't done that before and there's currently no leaks there; I don't want to mess up the seals.

    I'm planning on referencing the below guides along with some other tips I have picked up from reading additional threads.

    Any thoughts or advice? Am I missing anything important?
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  2. jsexton

    jsexton Wheeling Supporting Member

    Lewis Center, OH
    I personally try to get as new as possible and as low mileage as possible oem half axles. You can usually find decent ones around $50-$70 each shipped.

    My second choice is remanufactured aftermarket half axles. These are mostly rebuilt OEM axles, sometimes parts are replaced. These are harder to find than new aftermarket half axles. Sometimes there are plenty, sometimes there aren't any, or are very expensive.

    Last choice is new aftermarket half axles.

    My opinion is mostly based on strength. The aftermarket half axles always seem to break the easiest. I've seen several actually break the shaft itself (never seen an OEM one break the shaft). I suspect normal wear and tear would be in the same order though.

    As far as replacement boots, I wouldn't bother with that. I've done it when installing extended axles for r180 titan swap. It's time consuming and very messy. I've never heard anything good about split boots either - just seems like a terrible idea. Honestly not sure why they are even made.

    Hope this helps
    AlbatrossCafe and outback97 like this.
  3. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    Super helpful, thank you.

    I found a somewhat local seller listing a R180 plus two CV's for $100. I don't need the diff (it's a 3.13) and they're from a 2005 with a claimed ~100K miles. They have a fair amount of surface rust in the small photo I've seen, so I may keep looking.

    That's interesting about the aftermarket ones breaking. Keep in mind that we are not wheeling this thing hard, but that is still concerning. Thanks for the reply.
  4. AlbatrossCafe

    AlbatrossCafe Bought an X

    Western WA
    I have an R180 CV with about ~65k miles on it that I've been sitting on since I Titan swapped. Cover shipping and it's all yours. I've posted it for free everywhere and no one wants it...
    Xterrorista and outback97 like this.
  5. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    Thanks, PM incoming!
  6. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    To update my search, @AlbatrossCafe has been kind enough to offer up a newer OEM half axle, so with any luck FedEx will have it to me end of this week. Hopefully all goes well with the delivery and I can get it installed this weekend!
    Mar10OR, TerryD, IM1RU and 1 other person like this.
  7. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    It's not looking great for my shipment. @AlbatrossCafe reported that they picked it up on Wednesday, but then also showed up Thursday attempting to pick it up again. Meanwhile the call tag reference number provides no info or tracking. They claim to have no record of picking it up on Wednesday and the only information they have is that they tried to pick it up Thursday but it "wasn't ready". Yeah, that's because you already picked it up the day before and apparently lost it.

    Over the course of a couple of days I've spent over an hour on the phone with FedEx with no resolution. Pretty frustrated with them.
  8. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    I was really hoping to work on this while we have some good weather, so rather than waiting for a FedEx shipment that is probably lost, I tried to make some progress on this today. Currently kind of stuck so I'm hoping for some suggestions. A used OEM CV was Plan A, so moved on to...

    Plan B: Replace outer CV boot, regrease and reinstall original CV axle.

    I cannot find a replacement inner boot, so I decided to try just taking the wheel side (outer) CV joint off. I cut off the old boot and mounted the CV in a vise and started hammering using a wood block since I don't have a brass hammer. That got me nowhere, I couldn't get the outer to budge. I figured I could spend hours working on this thing, so I decided to move on to...

    Plan C: Aftermarket CV axle.


    I went to AutoZone and got a Duralast unit. $120. Upon inspecting it, everything looked pretty good, with some minor differences in the design from the OEM one. One thing that concerned me was the c-clip that holds the splined end into the diff looked a bit off. I rationalized it and figured it would be fine.

    Cleaned up the diff hole and started trying to get the aftermarket one in. Pushed and tapped with hammer and it seemed like it was going in. Awkward angles and only having two arms, I got the wife to swing the hammer while I held the thing in place. But it just seemed off so we stopped.

    It didn't want to go in, but now it didn't want to come out. shiat. I ended up pulling the inner CV joint out of joint in the process. Eventually with enough swearing I got the axle to come back out but it was a struggle.

    I got the joint back into place and I *think* that part is OK again, didn't tear the boot.

    Here's the two c-clips, the nice round one is from my old OEM CV axle, and the other is from the aftermarket unit. There are clearly rough spots on the widest edges of the aftermarket c-clip that I can see and feel. Not sure if they're visible in the photo, but I think that's what was hanging this thing up.

    IMG_3672-c-clip-comparison.jpg IMG_3670-2006-xterra-duralast-cv.jpg

    All that to ask a question:

    Can I just put the nice smooth OEM c-clip onto the aftermarket axle end? Do y'all think that wonky clip is what was making it so hard to get this thing into the diff? Or was it just me running out of talent?
  9. IM1RU

    IM1RU Need Bigger Tires Supporting Member

    SLC, UT
    Since we talked last night, did you get the new CV in?

    I'm concerned that you pulled the inner joint apart on the new one..... without removing the boot, I don't know of any way to inspect it..... there is a clip that holds the inner together, so you need to make sure that is in place.
    outback97 likes this.
  10. Mar10OR

    Mar10OR Bought an X

    Burlington KY
    Be safe. Return that one and tell them it did not fit. Get another one. Time and inconvenience do not equal safety.

    My Patronly advice. Lol.
    outback97 likes this.
  11. outback97

    outback97 Bought an X Supporting Member

    Thanks guys. I did end up exchanging the CV and got the new one (using OEM clip) installed today. Seems to be working well. Hopefully the aftermarket CV gives us some good service.

    I appreciate the help!
    jsexton, Xterrorista and Mar10OR like this.

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