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Chrysler Repair/cv joint replacement: '02 LX body

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QUESTION: I have a 2002 Chrysler Concorde LXI 3.5L 165K miles. Clicking noise when turning right on a curve then noise stops when going straight. Shudders once in awhile when accelerating. I'm thinking the left CV axle is faulty. The boots on both sides are good; no cracks. Questions: 1) How do I tell which side is faulty?
2) Should I replace both sides as a precaution?
3) Can I get away with removing just the lower ball joint to gain clearance for removal or do I need to remove the strut to knuckle?
I've seen both methods but would like to remove as little as possible.
4)Do I need an alignment when done?

Thanks so much for you time.

Tom

ANSWER: Hi Tom,
Have a passenger on board who can position his head at the midline and then listen for which side the sound is coming from. Also, inspect both sides outer cv for signs of excess grease leaking even though the boot is not chracked the loss may be at the inner or outer lip of the boot where the boot clamp is located. If the boot on the noisy side is OK, then you might consider simply removing the boot clamp and adding a dose of CV grease, then install with a new clamp. I have successfully quieted joints that way.  
Once you decide which side it is I would only do that one side.
Both the '98 and '04 manuals that I have show the disconnect needed is between the steering knuckle and the strut, not at the ball joint end of the knuckle.
It would be good to check the toe-in after re-assembly which you can do yourself as that is the only adjustment.
Do you have the Chrysler shop manual or equivalent for all the details? If not, I could copy the '04 manual pages and attach them to an email. I would need to know your email address but don't use the @ symbol, instead us 'at', otherwise the address will be erased. You may be able to replace just the boot and re-grease the joint and do that without also removing the entire drive shaft (inner joint removal). It would have to be done at the ground level instead of at a bench, however.
Sorry for the delay but I just found your question in the 'pool' to which Kevin had referred it.
Please read the PS below and respond.
Thanks,
Roland


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Roland,
Thanks for the answers to my many questions. Guess I didn't know you could re-grease the joint without replacing the entire shaft. I'm all set on the manuals. I have the 2002 Chrysler manual that states to remove the strut from the knuckle. I also have a Haynes manual that states to remove the ball joint from the knuckle. Looks like you would get more clearance for removal of the shaft if you removed the lower strut. If I end up having to replace the axle I might as well replace the strut assembly since I have the most difficult part removed. So how would I check for proper toe-in?
Thanks again for all your help. Tom

Answer
Hi Tom,
To check the toe-in you simply put a paint dot (I use 'white-out') on each tire's center tread at the same level (about axle height above the ground). Then score a thin groove in the paint marks, vertically. Then measure with a tape the distance between the scored marks. Then move the car fore or aft until the white marks are visible on the rear side as high as you can roll them and still have access to them to repeat the measurement. The two measurements should be identical if the toe is correct (e.g. 0 degrees).
On the re-greasing of the joint, chances are over the many miles the grease has leaked out somewhat from either end of the boot (assuming that the boot is not cracked, and you would likely see some grease marks on the chassis/spring directly opposite the end). That results in the clicking sound due to lack of grease. If you remove the clamp on the boot at the leaky end or the larger end (as the case may be) you can pull the boot off the groove add grease and then re-clamp the boot with a new clamp. This has worked for me in the past with other vehicles (e.g.  VW van). If the clicking has gone on for a long time such as to damage the joint then this might not stop the clicking but chances are good it would work. No new joint or half axle needed, no need to remove half axle entirely...
Thanks for the nomination you made of me. By the way, you are entitled to do that for up to 5 answers per month that I make to you and have them 'count'. So feel free to do that for this one and the earlier ones.
Roland

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Roland Finston

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Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

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I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2012 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top Expert" 2010-2015, here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.

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Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars.

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Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Education/Credentials
Advanced degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles

Awards and Honors
"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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