CV joint boot grease leakage

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96 EX Accord w 150k miles. On right inner & outer & left inner cv joints there is a grease leak from the ends of the boots. Boots are good & the boot clamps look ok. Why/how is grease getting out? No
typical bad cv joint symptoms yet. Garage recommended new half axles - apparently nobody changes just boots anymore because of the labor costs. Before I go that route I'll get a lot more miles out of these - at least until they start clicking. I've not heard of grease leaking from good joints/boots. It's the vertical sling out pattern on the facing & backing surfaces & right where the boot/clamp there is seepage. Any ideas?
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Aftermarket shafts with insufficiently tightened boot bands. The shop can replace the bands without removing the shafts from the vehicle. Should be a quick and cheap fix.
The shafts may go a long time yet even with a lesser amount of grease in the joints, so it's definitely worth a try before replacing the shafts.
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Thanks for all the responses on this. Obviously this is a pervasive concern & common experience. The CV joint boots were replaced in 2003 either at the Honda dealer or a reputable garage. Half-axles/CV joints are original. No clicking or thunking at all & boots are good - no cracks at all. The grease really is coming out of the ends of the boots under the clamps. I'm intrigued with the approach of just replacing/tightening the clamps, at least as a 1st step. Does that require special equipment/tools? Is that something I could do myself or is it a 5 min job at the garage that they probably would not charge much for?
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http://www.toolfetch.com/Category--Automotive--Suspension_Steering--CV_Joint_Axle--KD3191.shtml
But I think you'd need to buy some new bands, since the excess is required for tightening and then gets cut off.
I used one (once, in the course). It's a little tricky for the inexperienced to use. I think I'd call around and see what a shop wants to change out the bands. I might go for it, though.

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The important part of replacing the bands without replacing the boots is cleanliness. After removal of the the old bands, the boot should be cleaned along with the axle mating surface to ensure that no grease exists between the boot and that surface. Failure to do so will surely result in the boot slipping and leakage reoccurring...
JT
Elle wrote:

http://www.toolfetch.com/Category--Automotive--Suspension_Steering--CV_Joint_Axle--KD3191.shtml
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Loose bands are NOT common, split boots are.

You must replace the bands. It's best if you let the garage do the work.
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If grease is leaking from the boots, failure is likely not far away. You don't want them failing when you are driving down the highway. How long they'll last is hard to say, but point is, you want some peace of mind.
Your garage is right about just replacing the half-shafts. Reason: "Simply" re-packing is expensive, because the tech first has to take off the half shaft, then remove the boot, then thoroughly clean (and CV joint grease is about the thickest grease-based lubricant you'll see on a car), then re-pack. Major time in labor. Also, rebuilt half-axles have become plentiful, forcing down their price. IIRC boot quality has improved since 1996, so this may be the last half shaft replacement the car needs.
To see how competitive your shop is, check prices for half shafts for your Accord at Majestic Honda (probably around $150 per half-shaft), Napa Auto Parts and Autozone (closer to $75 per half-shaft). Insist on OEM from your garage, though that may be automatic, since one half shaft from one model of Honda does not exchange generally with that of another model. Compare prices.
Figure labor of a couple hours? That's a rough ballpark. Lots here have done the job, so check back for how long they think this should take.
I disassembled a CV joint a year or so ago in an automotive course, then reported on current practices and the thinking behind them for repairing CV joints.
Elle Original owner, 1991 Civic

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OP should ascertain if the boots are split or not.
When I read his message I gathered it was leaking from the boot/band join, which is different from leaking due to a split in the boot.
So, to elaborate: If the boots are split, replace the shafts. If the boots are leaking because the bands are insufficiently tight, replace the bands only.
And to the OP: CV joint boots split with regularity if not examined once in a while.
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I think we should see what KR says about the halfshafts' history.
KR, did you buy this car new or used? If new, has any work been done on the halfshafts before the boots started leaking? If used, have you any of the cars' maintenance and repair history?
If I were the tech working on this car, then I would hesitate to just tighten up the boot bands. It's said that ingress of dirt of any kind into the CV joint grease leads to failure. Maybe if I'd seen more reports of just tightening working fine, I'd go with this fix. But it sure does not come up here much, if at all.
OTOH, since clicking (outer joints) and clunking (inner joints) normally present before full failure, your approach might be worth a try. Whether a shop will agree to do only this is another matter. I guess they might.

Aside: I was reading at your site a little while ago on this, to see if we were of the same thinking. Have you changed your position about changing only the boots when the boot splits but the joint seems fine?
Not that I am presenting myself as experienced as you. Just an observation.
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It sometimes happens (only on aftermarket) that the bands are insufficiently tightened. When that occurs it's not like the boots are loose the way your sleeve is on your arm, but that they're loose just enough to be unable to keep violently flung grease from being flung out the tiny gap. The gap is far too tiny to allow dirt or water to enter, but is just enough to allow grease to leave.
In such a case it is standard operating procedure to simply replace the bands and make sure the new ones are sufficiently tight.
However, as I said, my advice was based on a possibly faulty reading of the OP's description of the problem. If, and only if, there are no visible splits in the boot, should the bands be replaced. A professional tech should be able to tell the difference between a split boot and loose bands.

Where do I say that? If that appears anywhere I'd better get rid of it.
My opinion has always been that if the boots have been split for an unknown length of time under unknown conditions that the joint should be replaced.
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I hear you. I also found a few reports (though lacking updates) of same in the Honda newsgroups. Indeed, especially with aftermarket shafts, and with three of four leaking, it seems like a good first guess.
I have yet to hear of a catastrophic CV joint failure on the Honda newsgroups, besides. Clicking and clunking, but not a dangerous failure while driving. Though I am sure it could happen.

http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/rustybrakes/brakes4.html#cv seems to imply that one should just replace the boots if one finds them split. It's a little vague. I think I'd be more emphatic that the choice these days is to replace the halfshaft.
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This is that text, in part:
"Did you know that your superbly-made and top-quality original Honda outer CV joints are very expensive new?
Did you also know that if you never allow the boot to split, those CV joints will easily last the life of the car? Did you also know that it takes about two years from the start of a crack in the boots to the point when the crack turns into a gaping slot that lets water and dirt in?...
If the crack is more than 1/16" deep, get the boots replaced now! It might cost you $200, but at least you're keeping your precious factory CV joints..."
Maybe I ought to be explicit about the opposite situation, that if the boots ARE split it is advisable that the joint/shaft should be replaced?
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I understand your point about trying to preserve the original came-with-the-car joints. But that boot replacement and joint cleaning labor is going to cost a person. Wouldn't it be cheaper and just as reliable to buy the remanned OEM ones that Majestic Honda offers and replace the whole half-shaft? About a year-and-a-half ago, Majestic wanted $130 for a remanned half shaft for my 91 Civic.
I am okay with tightening the bands (well, from my amateur reading and limited hands on) if a close inspection indicates the bands appear a bit loose and are likely leaking. But if the boots are badly cracked, I think remanned OEM from Majestic or another genuine Honda parts dealer is likely the best alternative, dollar-wise, time-wise, reliability-wise.
Two cents in this fine holiday season. :-)
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I suppose if the shaft assembly is an actual /Honda/ reman and not just an uncertified aftermarket that happens to being sold by Majestic, then it would be OK. Dealerships are independent companies and are free to sell anything they want to the public.
In any case the part number would tell you. Also, the genuine Honda remanned parts I've seen all either have a sticker on them which indicates that, or come in a box with the same assurance.
Since you have absolutely no idea what sort of condition any aftermarket reman is in, it is always preferable to replace your boots before they split and keep the original shaft assembly.
My point in all of this is that the new OEM boots are so good you'll probably never have to replace them ever again. with aftermarket you're looking at the definite possibility of failed boots/joints in a few years. So that $130 may end up being a wash, or false economy, not even counting the aggravation and time required to replace the shafts again.
The newest cars already have these new boots, so may never need boot replacement at all.

The bands can appear tight but still be leaking grease. There's an awful lot of force and flex while the boot is spinning around, force and flex you can't simulate with your hands.
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Tegger wrote:

I have the two original half shafts for the '83 in the shed and they have cracks but are not split. Since the car only had 110K (miles) on it, I'm assuming that they were original so it might well pay to have these professionally rebooted, yes?
JT
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Absolutely! *Especially* with a car that old. How often are you going to run into actual unremanufactured OEM joints/shafts for that vehicle?
Your problem here will be that the garage can't simply add new grease to the old as usual. The old grease will be dried out and useless, so they'd have to get rid of it all with a total teardown and clean.
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Elle wrote:

I know people that have driven vehicles with noisy c/v joints for thousands of miles. In fact, both of the rebooted c/v joints on the '83 are leaking and I have no plans to fix 'em. I don't know if they are noisy since the tranny growls pretty loud as it is. When the need arises, I'll simply install rebuilt units with a warranty.
JT
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I drove around on my noisy left-hand outer joint for a good two years. The clonking was almost deafening by the time I finally decided to do something about it.
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Tegger wrote:

The joints currently in the car are from the wrecked '81 that donated the engine. A local garage "rebooted" 'em but shortly thereafter, one developed a small split which I believe was probably caused by a flying rock when driving down a friends dirt road too fast. At any rate, I don't plan on doing anything for a year at least when the rebuilt original engine will be going into this car along with a refurbished tranny.
JT
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On Thu, 20 Dec 2007 19:40:25 +0000, Tegger wrote:

So, you're saying that examining the boots will keep them from splitting, huh?
Ummmm........
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