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hawairish

CV shaft variations prone to binding

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Posted (edited)

This topic is probably going to have a lot of debate on it, but I'll cut to the point: not all R50 CVs are created equal, and one variation of them is prone to binding even in stock applications.  I think this variation is undoubtedly the reason why there's such mixed opinions about the use of spacers and lift springs in regards to people busting CVs.

 

Let's be clear up front on some things:

  • Binding in this context is the inability for the CV to rotate smoothly, without restriction, when the suspension is at full droop (i.e., tire off the ground).  We'll be talking about any severity of binding, as a CV shaft should always be able to rotate without binding.
  • Without a doubt, spacers can contribute to binding because they move the wheel hub downward, causing the normal operating angle of the shaft to increase.  There's obviously an upper limit to the amount of spacers that can be used.  For the sake of argument, let's say 2" is maximum permissible spacer lift amount for a non-SFD truck.  (@fleurys, please weigh in on your opinion here since you've probably sold hundreds of your spacers and will have more insight than anyone here.)
  • No lift spring can cause binding, ever.  The operating angle of a CV is strictly limited to the travel range of the wheel hub, which is directly limited to the compressed and extended lengths of the strut.  The strut length is unaffected by a lift spring.

 

I'm making the claim about CVs because we observed it first-hand over the weekend while working on @Rockit's and @R50JR's trucks.  On Rockit's truck, we installed a 3" SFD and replaced OME MDs with HDs on OME struts.  On R50JR's, we didn't change anything about his suspension, but he has OME HDs on KYB struts.  Adding my truck to the mix, I have a 3" SFD with OME HDs on KYB struts.  For apples-to-apples, @Stpickens's has the same exact setup as Rockit's.

 

On Rockit's truck, we installed a pair of brand new Cardone 66-6185 (new, not remanufactured) CVs during the installation process.  As we were starting to bolt everything back together, we noticed that both CVs were binding severely—guaranteed imminent failure.  We debated whether it was the CV or the SFD, and I demonstrated that on my truck with a similar setup, I had no binding whatsoever.  We eventually re-installed the original CVs and there was absolutely no binding.  We also later confirmed that Stpicken's truck also had no binding.

 

After taking a few measurements, we confirmed that the OME strut is about 1" longer than a KYB strut, which basically has the effect of having a 1" spacer.  We then determined that the new Cardone CV would begin to bind at 19°, whereas the original CV reached 24° with no binding at the maximum droop.  That 5° also equated to 1" of travel, since we also measured the distance between the rotor and the ground.

 

On R50JR's truck, he had previously dealt with binding when he had a 1" spacer with the same KYB strut and OME HD spring.  Even with the spacer removed, a very slight binding was still present.  Coincidentally, the CV shaft shape looked exactly like the new Cardones.  Neither of them looked like mine.

 

This is definitive evidence that R50 CVs are definitely not the spec'd the same.  I've speculated that it's related to the fact that early model R50s and QX4 (99 and earlier) had struts that were longer than later models (00 and after), and this is confirmed by several manufacturers (including OME and Rancho) producing struts of different lengths.  However, the length change could simply be attributed to the two different strut mounts (aftermarket mounts include a spacer so the same mount can be used for either application.)  If perhaps the longer struts on early models equated to a longer droop relative to the newer models with shorter struts, it would suggest that older CVs may have had a higher maximum operating angle than newer.  As such, it would then be plausible that aftermarket manufacturers used the new CV dimensions and then applied the parts to the full 96-04 model range.  That's my best guess at the moment.

 

Also, we believe the issue is with the inner joint, not the outer because the binding occurred about every 120°, which coincides with the 3 bearing cups on the inner joint.  As far as sensing binding, we put a screwdriver in the brake rotor slots and give it a slow turn.  If there's binding, you'll feel it, but can also watch the front differential hangers shifting at the bushings.

 

What does it mean for us?  Well it means that, potentially, for all the people who have had binding or have broken CVs when using spacers up to 2" tall, the issue may have actually been the CVs the whole time.  As noted, there's slight binding on R50JR's with KYB struts and no spacers...not factoring the lift he's getting from his springs, this is an extremely common OE replacement setup that should have absolutely no binding at droop.

 

The main CV options are either OEM, aftermarket-new, or rebuilt.  The problem here is that there's not usually any clear indicators of which is which, so there's not really good advice on which to buy.  OEMs are presumably the best option to avoid this issue, but they can be very expensive ($550) though Nissan does have a "Value Advantage" part available ($150).  Aftermarket ones are clearly less expensive, but if brand new Cardone ones aren't built to the same spec, you'd have to chance a rebuilt one being of one spec or another. 

 

At this point, we might need a lot of community input to see if we can determine who has, or had, binding with which CV and which setup before we can know which CVs to avoid.  We may need to rely on physical appearance of parts since some brandings or p/ns might not be visible.  I'm thinking it's best to list the following:

  • CV brand and p/n (if known)
  • Any markings on the shaft
  • Your strut brand and p/n (stamped on the body)
  • Spacer height (if any)
  • Severity of binding on a 0-3 scale:
    • 0 - no binding
    • 1 - slight binding
    • 2 - binding (can be overcome)
    • 3 - severe binding (can be overcome with more force, or not at all)
  • A picture of shaft

 

Since strut p/ns vary by LH and RH side, it may help to include both if perhaps you've replaced struts and/or CVs separately and potentially have a mismatch (@notmeami).

 

Copy/Paste template...

CV Brand/PN:

Markings:

Strut Brand/PN:

Spacers:

Binding:

 

Edited by hawairish
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Posted (edited)

I'll start with these setups:

 

CV Brand/PN: Cardone 66-6185 (New)

Markings: "6185 20/04" (presuming date code of 04/2020)

Strut Brand/PN: OME N145S/N146S

Strut Spacers: 3" (w/ 3" SFD)

Binding: 3-Severe

 

9275-C123-0800-4-CBC-965-F-A4-C4-B1052-E

 

 

CV Brand/PN: unknown

Markings: none

Strut Brand/PN: KYB 335032/335033

Spacers: 3" (w/ 3" SFD)

Binding: 0-none

 

02-C63310-86-BD-4-AA7-961-E-690-E1-C6-AC

Edited by hawairish
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I will chime in...even though I have tried to skip the subject because there is alot of "experts" on facebook and all that have their opinions and people that know me, knows that i'm not a big fan of arguing over a keyboard.. Some would say I lack diplomacy ..but i'll give it a shot

 

Lifting a an ifs front with either stiffer springs or spacers does exactly the same thing to the half-shaft...which is to accentuate the angle..  I have said it many times, the quality of the half-shaft is essential and I am glad that someone actually made some tests and measurements... Thank you !...

 

I have run my first trail pathy hard as I had 2 arb lockers installed on it and I ran at first the ac coils, then my spacers (2.5") and I never had binding in them. mind you they were OEM Nissan... One thing I did was to change the neoprene boots with thermoplastics ones made by rockford...I actually made a post about that explaining how I made them add this boot to their catalog...that's another story..

 

The only time I broke something with a cv was doing a full send climb, locked all 4 on a steep hill and my right tire got stuck in a rut  while having the skinny pedal floored... that ended up in the halfshaft snapping in two.... not the cv joint....the shaft... you can barely hear it at the end :https://photos.smugmug.com/Trail-gazoduc-4-jours-juillet-2010/i-FrTDTBn/0/bf7a4533/640/broken-cv-640.mp4

 

That being said, I also did limiting straps on my struts in order to prevent too low of a drop..therefore saving the over extension...

 

I have over 1000 kits sold and of course my kits are for the beginner off-roader that don't want to break the bank in order to start...but I have demonstrated that with some modifications (limiting straps, thermoplastic boots and good oem quality half-shaft), you can go a long way.

 

That's all i'm gonna say as I just wanted to share my opinion and experience... I'm sure others will have something to say about this and I will respect that.

 

Bringing a product to market is not an easy thing...there is always some that will say why it is crap and why it will not work or it cost too much etc...  All I have to said to you is bravo and keep at it if you believe in it. I'm sure you'll end up with a great kit to sell and i'll be the first one to refer you guys when your kit is ready for primetime.

S.

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I can't contribute huge info here since I don't have my rig in front of me anymore, but here's what I do remember 100%:

 

CV Brand/PN: Cardone

Markings: Can't check

Strut Brand/PN: KYB

Spacers: 1"

Binding: 1 - you could turn the tire all the way around by hand and I never had a CV totally fail, but you could feel resistance every ~120° when the vehicle was jacked up.

 

I know with Toyota's the OEM CV's are equally expensive, but are equally the way to go unless you go with a quality aftermarket, unfortunately not an option for R50's at this time. I have a CVJ CV on one side of my 4Runner and some random cheapo one on the other side, and the difference in smoothness of rotation at full droop with no spacers is astounding. CVJ rebuilds OEM Toyota CV's to very high specifications for a much cheaper price than OEM, maybe something similar can be arranged for R50's? The size of the market would make it hard though.

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Thanks @fleurys for chiming in.  I especially wanted you to see this because I've seen some of the complaints on FB and they're totally unwarranted; there are simply "bad" CVs out there that will bind with with the slightest amount of lift.  Hopefully this post becomes a means to identify them beforehand.

 

Thanks, too, @mjotrainbrain.  Rebuilding OEM CVs seems like the way to go, and I think that's why remanufactured CVs will be hit or miss since they might be made from OEM parts.  I doubt we'll ever have a shop specializing in OEM rebuilds...the market's not there, and there may not be a good way to identify them.  I'm hoping someone with a genuine part can shed light on identifiers.  (@RainGoat, were yours ever changed?).  I was also just reading up on Nissan's Value Advantage parts line-up and it reads like the CVs are all new but perhaps aftermarket..."a quality product validated by Nissan Engineers".  At 4x-5x the cost of an aftermarket, I'd hope these are the "good" CVs.

 

I refrained from mentioning it in the 1st post {puts on tin foil hat}, but what if this is a conspiracy by the aftermarket to sell more CVs but producing a product that can't range as well as OEM?  That's defective in my book.  Since Nissan still lists one CV to cover all R50 applications, I doubt the part number change they made in between was to lessen the angle range.  Otherwise, it would surely fail on the early model.  If the aftermarket is supposed to build to OE specs, several degrees off seems like a major oversight.  It's nonsense to have an aftermarket CV that binds on an OE-spec strut, even a little, and that's defective in my book.  I also wonder if it affects 1st gen Frontiers and Xterras...the only difference between those CV and ours is the shaft length (ours are shorter).  The joints, bearings, and boots are all identical.  Probably not an issue on those trucks because the only way to induce binding is with longer UCAs, and if they have as much wheel travel as ours, the longer shaft means they have lower operating angles.  Anyway, don't dive into the conspiracy theory here, but just something to think about.

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Posted (edited)

Awesome! It’s always good to get math and crowdsourcing info on this topic, I know it’s been speculated before that different axles have worse tolerances.

 

 

First Experience:

CV Brand/PN: OEM I Assume. See pic

Markings: BCM1085 on the shaft/differential side band of the outer boot (as opposed to the hub facing side of the outer boot) T82FA on inner boot.

Strut Brand/PN: KYB. Couldn’t find a stamped part number, I assume they’re the facelift part number. 

Spacers: 2” Spacers

Binding: I’d speculate 2-3. Sorry, Never tested by hand at full droop. However, the passenger side shaft would bind at full lock in parking lot scenarios and such. I occasionally could also feel the axles bind when under heavy acceleration and the front end would lift slightly. This, combined with the knowledge that my axles would have beyond-stock downtravel at full droop, made me switch to springs before going off road.

 

2nd Experience: By then, I had manual hubs, so I had much less time w/ axles engaged, no “by hand” testing:

 

CV Brand/PN: Aforementioned Axles

Markings: Aforementioned Axles

Strut Brand/PN: Same KYB’s

Spacers: None, just 2” AC coils

Binding: 0. None observed under legitimate, wheel lifting type  off road usage. I tend to be light on the throttle as I lose traction, but still, I never observed binding.

 

 


3rd experience:

 

CV Brand/PN: Driver side- Unknown, pulled from JY. Passenger- same as previous 2 axles, assumed OEM.

Markings: Driver- 7037 on snap ring of outer boot differential side. BT114 on inner boot. BT110 on outer boot. No distinguishable markings anywhere else. Passenger- GSP on outer boot hub side snap ring. CS-P on inner boot diff side snap ring. No other distinguishable markings, see pics.

Strut Brand/PN: Same struts as before, KYB OEM spec

Spacers: none, just 2” AC coils up front now

Binding: 0. Tested off road, including use of a lokka, and just now in my driveway- No binding, full droop, full lock, both ways, forward and reverse.

 

PICS

 

The first two presumably OEM axles: 

ndxv6dT.jpg

 

Current Driver side Axle, Notice the entirely round inner flange: 

OU90Chu.jpg

 

 

 

piDzReH.jpg
 

 

Current Passenger Side axle. The shaft isn’t notched the way the first two axles I had were, so it’s possibly just an OEM look alike or an earlier production model:

tH63mXr.jpg

Edited by PathyDude17
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Awesome, @PathyDude17!  I totally forgot about the round inner joint flanges; perhaps that's the easiest indicator of early model CVs.

 

Am noticing your first CVs have the same style shaft as mine.  Wish I knew if mine were OE or not...I only know the boots were replaced previously.  I rebuilt one of mine the other month (and hated every minute of it), but can't seem to find the pics I took.  I vowed to never rebuild another one, but with this discovery and the fact that I'm sitting on spare boots, I may need to face the music and rebuild the other.  I've been wanting to keep a spare CV for off-road use, but I can't move forward on that until I have an answer about these.  I may just end up bringing an angle finger to the JY and finding the right set.

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4 minutes ago, hawairish said:

Am noticing your first CVs have the same style shaft as mine.  Wish I knew if mine were OE or not...I only know the boots were replaced previously. 
 

 

I may just end up bringing an angle finger to the JY and finding the right set.

Next time I’m at the ultra R50-populated JY I’ll try and check the CV shafts. If we could find enough “notched” axle shafts, perhaps we would be comfortable with deeming those the OEM axles?


At the very least, it would seem the notched shaft + carved (not round) differential flanges is a good indicator of quality, as you and I have both had good success in Offroad/4x4/Front locker usage w/o spacers.

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It would be great to have a way to identify an OE part over a rebuild. I guess the level of wear and the lack of additional markings will go a long way..

I have been waiting for years now to move forward with a sus lift because of all the mixed stories on binding.

Thanks for doing all this research. I will have a close eye on the info that inevitably comes about.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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Posted (edited)

My 2001 LE

CV Brand/PN: OReilly's Import Direct/NI8185

Markings: "KAI 025" on the outer cup band. Has a smooth round outer cup

Strut Brand/PN: KYB-335032 & KYB-335033

Spacers: SFD w 4.75" strut spacers + OME HD coils

Binding: 0 currently, had 2" spacers on top of the OME HD when I first lifted the truck before installing my SFD and broke 2 CV axles but never observed issues at full droop though there was likely some

 

o2AKrnc.jpg

 

Pines to Spines 2003 LE "Gambler"

CV Brand/PN: uknown

Markings: none

Strut Brand/PN: unkown

Spacers: Pines to Spines 4" SFD

Binding: 0

 

BJ0QyYX.jpg

 

 I currently have 3 sets of CV's to look at- My 2001 which has new units from ORielly's, a used set of what @02_Pathy thought were OEM and the set on the Gambler, which look identical to the assumed OEM set. The biggest difference I can tell right away is the entirely smooth and round outer cup on the OReilly part whereas the "OEM" units have a step in the casting. Assuming the 190K 2003 Gambler has never had a CV replaced and @02_Pathy really did replace OEM units I think this may be an identifying trait?

 

9bdN2eS.jpg

 

 

Also worth noting- @02_Pathy installed a brand of CV I've never heard of and has had no issues since, although they have the same part number as the new OReilly units in my 2001 and could just be a re-branded part. He gave me the "OEM" units in their boxes

 

CntKazf.jpg

 

Edited by TowndawgR50
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I’m going to be at the junkyard tomorrow morning tearing apart as many r50 cv axles as are available for measurements.


Sent from my Pathfinder

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The inner joints on mine have a step.  In fact, if I had to make any direct comparison, mine look like the picture of the Cardone remanufactured unit, p/n 606185, on Rock Auto:

 

606185-fro-ra-p.jpg

The shaft shape seems to be what we, so far, leaning towards being OEM.  This reman'd unit could potentially be that.

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Hawairish, your observations confirm something I learned a few years ago when I replaced a CV axle with a replacement I bought either at O'Reilly or Autozone... or possibly RockAuto.

 

I cannot recall whether the axle was a Duralast-branded part or whatever brand O'Reilly sells. I have typically bought CV axles locally rather than waiting for parts to ship from Rockauto due to the urgency of the repair. Anyway, during the replacement, I noticed that the inner cup on the previous CV was different than on the replacement axle. The wall thickness of each of the cups was different, and the bearing sizes were also different. I believe that the thinner-walled cup with larger bearings allowed more operating angle before binding, whereas the other axle whose inner CV cup had thicker walls and smaller bearings had binding at a lower operating angle. I was able to check the wall thickness and bearing sizes by popping the grease cap off the back of the inner cup. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell just from brand/part number/new/reman whether you'll get a thin-walled inner CV or a thick-walled inner CV.

Anyway, if I recall, I think I may have returned the thick-walled CV axle back to the store I bought it from (eg. Autozone) and got one from the other store (eg. O'Reilly Auto), which had thinner walls.

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Hawairish, your observations confirm something I learned a few years ago when I replaced a CV axle with a replacement I bought either at O'Reilly or Autozone... or possibly RockAuto.
 
I cannot recall whether the axle was a Duralast-branded part or whatever brand O'Reilly sells. I have typically bought CV axles locally rather than waiting for parts to ship from Rockauto due to the urgency of the repair. Anyway, during the replacement, I noticed that the inner cup on the previous CV was different than on the replacement axle. The wall thickness of each of the cups was different, and the bearing sizes were also different. I believe that the thinner-walled cup with larger bearings allowed more operating angle before binding, whereas the other axle whose inner CV cup had thicker walls and smaller bearings had binding at a lower operating angle. I was able to check the wall thickness and bearing sizes by popping the grease cap off the back of the inner cup. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell just from brand/part number/new/reman whether you'll get a thin-walled inner CV or a thick-walled inner CV.

Anyway, if I recall, I think I may have returned the thick-walled CV axle back to the store I bought it from (eg. Autozone) and got one from the other store (eg. O'Reilly Auto), which had thinner walls.

Good observation. We did notice the inner flange was thicker on the new cardone axle, while the oem has a thinner flange. We were not sure if that necessarily meant the cup itself was different. Any thoughts on the variation in axle manufacturing?


Sent from my Pathfinder

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