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Model S Aftermarket CV Axles - Success!

Oct 22, 2019
9
41
Charlotte NC
So my S90DL was making some clunking noises from the front under hard acceleration and while turning, I got under the car and noticed the CV boot was torn, all the grease slung out, and was certainly the issue cause of the noise.
20191020_202540.jpg

Tesla took the car and diagnosed the same thing, but said CV axles were not covered under the powertrain warranty since it's a wear item (like brakes and tires) and would be $2,500 to fix. I thought that was BS, so I looked around online and saw this company was selling axles for these cars, and for a very reasonable price. TrakMotive Announces New CV Axles For The 2012-18 Tesla Model S | Aftermarket Intel

My other option was a used ebay axle, but I didn't really want to throw in something that might be worn out too.

So rockauto had one of the trakmotive axles for $250, I bought it and put it in. It wasn't too difficult, but I would say the passenger side front axle would be easier as there is more room on that side.

The process for the front CV axles are like this:
  1. Put the car in jack mode, jack it up and take the wheel off. I used some big chunks of wood for jack stands because my jack stands are at my shop. You shouldn't need to be under the car here, all the work is done from the side or the frunk.
    20191020_202423.jpg
  2. Remove the axle nut. This would have been easy with an impact gun, as mine was very loose. The nord-lock washer was surprisingly easy to overcome with a breaker bar. If yours is tighter, pop the center cap out of the wheel, reinstall the wheel, lower the car back on the ground and use a breaker bar to remove the nut. This is a 32mm nut, but a 1-1/4" socket fit on it just fine.
    20191020_202121.jpg

  3. Remove the steering tie rod nut, both lower control arm nuts, and the lower sway bar end link nuts. You'll need e torx bits for the control arms, allen wrench for the sway bar end link, and 21mm and 15mm wrenches. Of if you're like me and don't have a 21mm box wrench, a regular adjustable crescent wrench. A 1/2" impact gun will break all these nuts loose and it's easy to remove them with the torx/allen and box wrench combo after that.
  4. When all the nuts are off, push the control arms and links down to get the studs out of the spindle. The spindle should be all loose and floppy on the upper control arm so you can pull it away. You should be able to push the CV axle out of the hub now by pulling the floppy spindle towards you and pushing the threaded end of the cv out of the hub. You don't have to remove the brake caliper or rotor or anything. Move the spindle out of the way towards the rear of the car, maybe a bungie or ratchet strap would help here.
    20191020_204929.jpg

  5. Remove the lower strut bolt from the lower control arm. You will need to be able to swing the strut out of the way a bit to get the end of the axle out of the hole. These are 21mm iirc.
  6. Remove the frunk pan. This is tricky, the carpety bit comes out first, but be sure not to break the connectors going to the light and hostage escape button. There are a couple of nuts and bolts holding the plastic frunk pan in the car. Once these are out, there are metal clips around the perimeter that can be wiggled around until they clear the plastic trim around the frunk area. Get creative moving the frunk pan around, or you could just remove all the plastic trim surrounding the frunk pan. I left mine in because some dealership asshat broke/lost most of the clips holding that stuff on and I didn't want to break any more.
  7. This is the tricky bit, and you're going to have to get super creative here. The driver side axle has almost no room to get a prybar or any kind of normal tool in there to pry the axle out of the differential. On the driver side, you'll have to pull off the velcro on the noise insulation covering the drive unit and move it out of the way. The only real spot to pry is under that bracket in the picture. The passenger side looks much easier as the axle is on a jackshaft. These axles, like most axles, have a little metal spring circlip that retains the axle in the diff, and they need a little prying to get the axle to pop out. You may need to rotate the axle here to get the clip in it's happy place to pop out. This is 100% the hardest part of the job. I ended up using the end of a wrench with a crescent wrench added to the end for extra leverage to get in that spot to pop it out. When it finally did come out, a tiny amount of oil came out of the hole and made a small mess on the floor (good thing I have epoxy floors). Maybe a couple oz of fluid leaked out, enough to be absorbed by a small rag, and not enough to cause any damage to the differential, but you could always do a flush now and put the right amount in the diff. If you jack your car up more than I did you could probably get away without losing any fluid at all.
    20191020_213352.jpg
    20191020_213401.jpg

  8. Pull the old axle out of the hole, move the dangling strut around to get the CV end out of there. Slide the new axle into the old hole and wiggle it until it finds the matching splines and starts sliding in. The circlip is going to be a problem here too as you'll have to use the axle as a slide hammer to get the circlip to slip past the splines. The axle should go in fairly easily with gentle tapping with the axle shaft. Don't yank the axle shaft out too far as you'll pull the CV apart inside the rubber boot and have to jam it back together like I did. When the axle is fully seated, you should be able to reach in there and feel the axle able to slide in and out of the differential maybe a few mm before hitting the stops. If it's still tight feeling, the circlip probably isn't fully inserted and seated. Your prybar arrangement from step 7 should not be able to easily move the new axle back out of the differential. Keep rotating the axle and slide hammering it in until it clicks in place and can't be pulled back out (again, don't use the axle to pull on it, you'll pull the CV apart in the boot).
    20191020_213736.jpg

  9. Reverse the steps to put it back together. Take some time to look around the frunk to see if anything is out of place or broken. I found some neat blue painters tape on the subframe that I'm not sure why it was there. I took a whole bunch more stuff off that I ended up not needing to because I thought I could get to the axle prying spot from the bottom. That's why my skidplate shields are off in the pictures.

I didn't use the washer from the new axle, I used the old nord lock washer that was on there. I tightened up everything with a weak air impact gun and finished it up with a 1/2" breaker bar. I'm not sure what the torque values are, but I tightened up everything to at least as tight as they were to take off. These are big fasteners and you aren't going to hurt anything putting a breaker bar on them. Axle nut is supposed to be like 180ft lbs, so I just used my body weight on the breaker bar to tighten the nut (it's a bit more than a foot). It was much easier to get off, maybe 60 ft lbs, so it might be worth it to go around and check your other axle nuts.

The new axle is nice and quiet again! So hopefully problem solved for 1/10 the price. This took me about 2 hours, but I was drinking IPAs and using the tools I have at home rather than the tools I have at my shop, so it could be done faster. The removing of unnecessary parts and struggling with the old axle was the hardest part. This is about a 5/10 difficulty.
 

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sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,271
6,228
Merced, CA
Tesla has replaced my front CV/axles FOUR times under warranty and they're about to do it a fifth time under warranty even though my warranty expired 52K miles ago because they finally came out with the redesigned part that doesn't vibrate under acceleration.

If their stance is that it's a wear item and not covered, you'd have had a 100% slam dunk case in arbitration. Plus reporting to BBB and your local state AG.
 
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maximizese

Member
Jan 16, 2018
488
478
California
Thanks for sharing your experience as it is very helpful for the collective group of owners for a variety of reasons. My question is: Do you think the axle when bad due to a lack of grease/infiltration of contaminants due to the boot tearing, or do you think the boot tore from the inside as a result of the axle components disintegrating? How long do you think you were driving around with a tear in the boot?
 
Oct 22, 2019
9
41
Charlotte NC
Thanks for sharing your experience as it is very helpful for the collective group of owners for a variety of reasons. My question is: Do you think the axle when bad due to a lack of grease/infiltration of contaminants due to the boot tearing, or do you think the boot tore from the inside as a result of the axle components disintegrating? How long do you think you were driving around with a tear in the boot?

Most of the grease around the tear was pretty dry. It's really hard to say how long the boot was torn. Usually, for CV Axles, the first sign of anything wrong is grease flung everywhere, not any kind of noises. It takes a while for the grease to be flung out and the contamination to actually cause enough wear to make noise. The grease also helps dampen some of the clatter from inside the CV, so when that goes you start hearing all the fun metal-on-metal noise.
 
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Reactions: maximizese

zabloct

Member
Jun 17, 2020
17
14
Poland
My car was a used car, the warranty might be different from cars purchased new. The dealer explicitly stated that axles were not covered under the power train warranty
Hi SwissPatriotRG,

It’s been a year since you swapped your axles, would you be able to give us some update about the quality of these new axles, are they still good? I also get some clunks on hard acceleration and wondering if these ones from rockauto are worth it.
 

Amacharola

Member
Jan 27, 2020
89
50
York, PA
Just checking in on this. I have a couple noises coming from my front end. I have a rattle metal on metal noise on the front passenger and thought it was the normal sway bar link going bad. It was a bit loose in the joints so I replaced it with a Tesla part I bought from the SC. I still have a bit of noise and recently started hearing a clicking when decelerating. Today it developed into a clicking noise around 30mph or so. It sounds like it’s coming from the right front as well. Frustrating but I did have a rock auto cv joint on hand for my right front. How has the quality been? I’m about to dive into that this week? Anyone?
 
Oct 22, 2019
9
41
Charlotte NC
Just checking in on this. I have a couple noises coming from my front end. I have a rattle metal on metal noise on the front passenger and thought it was the normal sway bar link going bad. It was a bit loose in the joints so I replaced it with a Tesla part I bought from the SC. I still have a bit of noise and recently started hearing a clicking when decelerating. Today it developed into a clicking noise around 30mph or so. It sounds like it’s coming from the right front as well. Frustrating but I did have a rock auto cv joint on hand for my right front. How has the quality been? I’m about to dive into that this week? Anyone?

Hi SwissPatriotRG,

It’s been a year since you swapped your axles, would you be able to give us some update about the quality of these new axles, are they still good? I also get some clunks on hard acceleration and wondering if these ones from rockauto are worth it.

Checking back in, new axle is still perfect, no noises coming from it, and I'm still very happy I fixed it for cheap! The car still ludicrous launches with it same as ever, and I haven't snapped it yet :)
 

tezcatcatl

Member
Jan 23, 2021
80
20
Netherlands
Thanks alot for the detailed explanation. I feel like this will come handy for me one day sooner or later. :)
May I ask you a question, considering your experience with this?

I recently bought a Model S P90D. I took it to the dealer before buying it for a general inspection and they found out that Front Right wheel has the halfshaft connection cover thingy thorn on the wheel side and grease is leaking.
I asked them to take photos but they forgot so I couldn't check myself yet. There are no noises, no rattles, nothing, yet.

Dealer that said this part is not serviceable and recommended changing the whole halfshaft, which is quoted at ~440 euros something excluding labor.
I on the other hand, found this: https://www.autodoc.nl/triscan/14452978

My question is, if I buy this, can my regular mechanic easily replace the cover, refill the grease and done? Atleast until the potential wear kills the halfshaft?
 

tezcatcatl

Member
Jan 23, 2021
80
20
Netherlands
The CV joint is usually toast by the time these tears are found.

So the fact that mine is not making any noises nor vibrations, is a good thing or nah?

My options:
-Change the rubber cover, pay 90 eur for the part, 30 eur for the labour.
And make a bet on the lifetime of that joint with the replacement cover and refilled grease.

- Go to the dealer and pay 500 eur and get the whole thing replaced.

- Buy the part (Triscan brand) online for 250 eur (Halfshaft + the cv joint as Tesla recommended), and get it replaced for 100 eur labor at a regular garage. After that I might have to do wheel alignment for another 100 bucks. Which would get me to 450 euros.
I dont know if the 500 eur offer of Tesla includes wheel alignment though..

I just want to know if the covers are replaceable I think. If they are, I will take my chances.
 

Amacharola

Member
Jan 27, 2020
89
50
York, PA
I’d say that you would need to replace the CV shaft. Replacing the boot is not good enough. Inside of the boot is a flexible joint covered in a thick grease. Any contamination to the grease will result in a failure of the joint.

I would only be entertaining replacing it and getting alignment done
 
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tezcatcatl

Member
Jan 23, 2021
80
20
Netherlands
I’d say that you would need to replace the CV shaft. Replacing the boot is not good enough. Inside of the boot is a flexible joint covered in a thick grease. Any contamination to the grease will result in a failure of the joint.

I would only be entertaining replacing it and getting alignment done


Interestingly enough, while the aftermarket shaft + joint as a kit is priced at 250 eur, only the joint replacement is priced at 300 eur.

https://www.autodoc.nl/triscan/14452974
https://www.autodoc.nl/triscan/12831063

300 for the part + 100 labor + 100 alignment reaches 500.
I rather let the dealership do it all for that price in this case.
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,271
6,228
Merced, CA
So the fact that mine is not making any noises nor vibrations, is a good thing or nah?

The chances that there's already been damage that isn't yet obvious is nearly 100%.

I'd replace the shaft. I'd also make sure to clean the boots and wipe down with silicon spray every 6 months or so. I've done this for 35 years on my cars and have never had a boot failure on on my of my 300K+ mile cars.
 

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