CV Joints and FWD Axles
This is a very common issue. In fact, on some vehicles, axle replacement is almost a maintenance item. The noises often associated with FWD axles involve the CV joints, or Constant Velocity joints. These joints allow a wide range of motion while still being able to transfer power from the final drive to the wheels.
The noise you often hear with this is a clicking noise when making a tight turn. If you hear this noise, you likely have a bad CV joint. Determining which side is fairly simple. If you make a right turn and hear the noise, it’s the left axle. The opposite is true for the other side.
You can also do a visual inspection. If you see a torn or split outer boot, this is likely the joint that’s making noise. For the repair, replace the joint or the entire axle. These days FWD axles are pretty affordable, and it’s easier than changing a boot or joint. Some FWD vehicles also have a center bearing that is similar to RWD models.
These can also make noise from time to time. As with the RWD models, it’s difficult to nail these down. Just as with the RWD axle, check for movement at this bearing. If you find any, replace it. They really aren’t serviceable.
One note on FWD replacement axles. You might notice that the axle you take out has a rubber damper in the center of the axle, but the new one you’re putting on does not. I can’t really say why this happens, but it does. The rubber is a damper and helps reduce axle vibration during operation. I have yet to see an axle without one cause a vibration. It’s really up to you how you want to handle this. Let’s just say some remanufactured axles are better than others and leave it at that.
Here are some videos you might find helpful when dealing with FWD axles.