5 Types of Constant-Velocity (CV) Joints

Last Updated on May 11, 2019 by themechanic

Constant-velocity joints, also known as CV joints, assist in transferring transmission power to the wheels underneath the vehicle. The flow of transmission power to the wheels is consistent with the rotational speed and there is very little friction. Most front-wheel-drive vehicles have CV joints in them. A rear-wheel-drive vehicle may have them too if it contains an individual rear suspension system.

5 Types Cv Joints

Not all CV joints are the same. There are different types of CV joints available which accommodate various types of vehicles, such as front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. Below we’ll go over the 5 main types of CV joints so that you can understand the differences between them better.

1) Plunge/Fixed Joints

Your standard front-wheel drive vehicle contains a plunge joint and fixed joint. The plunge joints are inboard joints and the fixed joints are outboard joints. Most of the performance is done by the fixed joint. When you steer the wheel and turn around corners or angles, the fixed joint is what helps you do this. However, in a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the plunge joints are utilized more. And if a vehicle has a separate rear-wheel suspension system, there will be one plunge joint per axle shaft.

2) Tripod / Ball-Type Joints

When you install an inner plunge joint in a front-wheel drive vehicle, it can be a ball-type joint or tripod joint. Tripod joints basically have a tripod, or a spider, which has 3 trunnions. Each trunnion has a spherical roller that is connected to a needle bearing. Ball-type joints feature a cross groove or double-offset style. The tripod joint is the most popular type of plunge joint.

3) Rzeppa Joints

Rzeppa joints are used regularly in vehicles. In fact, they are considered to be the original CV joints because they were invented way back in 1920. Alfred H. Rzeppa was the engineer who invented the Rzeppa joint. It changed the way automobiles functioned forever. Over the years, other CV joints were invented but his joints became influential in the auto industry.

Rzeppa joints are outer CV joints that contain six spherical balls per joint. You can achieve a 50% reduction in your operating angle by using these joints. The gears have teeth which don’t allow torque to be transferred to the other side of the joint because the balls go on the tracks.

4) Fixed Tripod Joints

Fixed tripod joints are outer joints which you may find in some front-wheel drive vehicle models. The outer housing is where the trunnion is mounted on the joint. The input shaft has an open tulip with 3 roller bearings, each one rotating against one another. The joint is locked together by a steel spider which secures it properly.

5) Inboard & Outboard Joints

In the average front-wheel drive vehicle, there is a drivetrain which has 2 CV joints for each half shaft. One CV joint is called the outer CV joint and the other CV joint is called the inner CV joint. You’ll find the inner CV joint located close to the transaxle, while the outer CV joint is located close to the wheel. Although, if we’re talking about a rear-wheel drive vehicle, then the outboard joint is near the wheel and the inboard joint is closer to the differential.

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Replacement Cost

If there ever comes a time when you need to replace your CV joints, it will only cost you about $150 to replace one joint. But in many cases, you’ll need to replace several joints at the same time because they’ll be equally worn out or damaged. Then you’re looking at $300+ for the replacement parts. And if you don’t know how to replace the parts yourself, you’ll need to pay $100 to $300 to hire a mechanic to do it for you.

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