13-Steps for Easy CV Boot Replacement

Sport ATV, UTV, Utility ATV — on August 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

It’s gonna happen. Sooner or later a CV boot on your four-wheel drive ATV will tear. Whether caused by brush, rocks,lead-1 ice, sticks or dried mud, something will pierce the part that protects those greasy CV joints on your machine’s drivetrain.

Grease on the outside of a CV boot is a sign that it’s been punctured. If left unchecked, water and mud will wash away the lubricating paste and destroy the joint or shaft, leaving you with a repair that could exceed $300, for the parts alone. But if caught soon after the damage is done, your wheeler can be back in the woods or on the trail for about $50 in parts.

Replacing a CV boot might seem intimidating, but it’s a relatively simple repair that took us about an hour to complete. We replaced the inner boot on the left-rear axle-shaft of a 2007 Arctic Cat 400 4×4. This story covers the service on that particular machine, but the steps and basic principles here can be applied to most other makes and models.


CV Boot Install - Step 1

Step 1: Set the ATV on a stable jackstand to elevate the wheel that you’ll service. Place the stand under a secure spot to support the machine, such as the frame or gearcase housing. Test the machine’s stability before moving on to the next step.


CV Boot Install Step 2

Step 2: Remove the wheel and unbolt the upper and lower A-arms from the knuckle assembly, which contains the wheel bearing. Let the axle-shaft hang while you perform the next step.


CV Boot Install Step 3

Step 3: Remove the CV boot clamp with a sidecutters, tin snips or similar tool. This will allow you to pull the boot off the CV joint and access the shaft’s retainer clip, which is explained in the next step.


CV Boot Install Step 4

Step 4: On our Arctic Cat, the axle-shaft was held in the gearcase with a metal retainer ring. We scooped out most of the grease to find the ring, and then pried it out with a small screwdriver. With the retainer out, the shaft can be removed from the vehicle.

CV Boot How To

CV Boot Install Step 5

Step 5: With the shaft on a workbench, now is a good time to inspect the knuckle assembly’s mount bushings and bearings. If the machine has a lot of miles or a few hard ones, this is the best time to replace the worn parts.

cv-joint-lighten it

CV Boot Install Step 6

Step 6: Now the CV joint needs to come off the axle-shaft so you can remove and replace the damaged boot. Use a finger to scoop out the grease and expose the circlip that holds the joint on the shaft; use a small, snap-ring plier to remove the clip and slide the joint off the shaft. Note how the joint goes on the shaft (for our machine, the tapered end pointed toward the wheel-end of the shaft). Be careful when handling the CV joint as the ball bearings might fall out. A few fell out of our Cat’s CV joint, but we pressed them in place by hand and smeared some fresh grease over the joint to help retain them.


CV Boot Install Step 7

Step 7: We purchased an Arctic Cat CV boot replacement kit that included the boot, clamps, new clips and a packet of grease for less than $50. Remove the damaged boot and slide the new one on the shaft, then reinstall the joint with a new circlip. The small-end boot clamp can be installed at this time, but we left ours off in case we needed to adjust the boot while reinstalling the axle-shaft on the machine. If you’re confident you can install the shaft without trouble, go ahead and tighten the clamp while the shaft is on the bench because it’s easier to do there than when it’s on the machine.


CV Boot Install Step 8

Step 8: The shaft is ready to slide back into the differential, but make sure the case is clean before reinstallation. Shine a flashlight inside the cavity to verify the gunk and debris has been cleared away. Wipe the cavity with a shop towel, or you might need to use contact cleaner and a scraper to loosen stubborn dirt and mud that’s mixed with grease. For illustration, the large clamp is pictured on the boot in this step.


CV Boot Install Step 9

Step 9: With the shaft in the case, install the new clip to retain the axle-shaft inside the differential. Fill the CV joint cavity with grease and be sure to smear some on the joint itself, too.


CV Boot Install Step 10

Step 10: Now fill the CV boot with grease and then carefully position it over the joint, making sure to slide it all the way against the shoulder on the case. Set the clamp in place over the boot and hook the tabs to prepare it for final installation. Hook the tabs so the clamp’s tapered end will sit inside the recessed portion when the clamp is compressed.


CV Boot Install - Step 11

Step 11: Specific orientation of the boot’s clamp is dictated by things — A-arms, brake components, the frame, etc. — that might interfere with the CV boot clamp compression tool you’ll use to lock the clamp in place. With some trial and error, you’ll determine where to position the clamp on your machine. On our Arctic Cat, we put the clasp at about 10 o’clock for the inner boot and locked it.


CV Boot Install Step 12

Step 12: If you didn’t install the outer clamp in Step 7, put the tapered end of the boot in position on the axle; there should be a shoulder or clamp-groove to indicate correct installation. Make sure the boot is correctly installed before you lock the clamp, otherwise the boot will suffer damage when the suspension cycles through its travel.


CV Boot Install Step 13

Step 13: After the clamps are installed, remount the A-arms and wheel. With the transmission in neutral, spin the wheel forward and backward by hand to make sure everything works correctly before taking the ATV for a test-drive.

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