Long time no talk (I sound like a native American an Indian). (Yeah, not so much. – SM)
I have an 09 Outback with ~65k miles. I had noticed a bit of a burning smell after running it for a while and it was pretty strong after a recent trip. I thought it smelled like a belt slipping but when I popped the hood the two belts looked fine. After looking around for a minute I realized that the passenger side CV boot had torn and was dripping grease on to the cat. Checking the other side revealed that the driver’s side boot was also torn. Apparently this is a pretty common failure for scoobies. The Internet says I should be concerned if I hear a “popping” sound or the clunk associated with failing bearings. Luckily I am hearing neither. The dealer had a set price of $370 per boot for replacing the boots that the service manager somewhat disconcertingly blurted out almost before I finished describing the problem. The independent shop thought they could do both for less than $500 if the axles weren’t bad, but if they were bad then it would be another $450 per.
My question is this: Can I just get split boots from JC Whitney and pack them with grease or do I really need to have the pros fix it?
The split boots are probably a great idea, Dorman makes good stuff for old cars when the OEMs can or will not. That said, I’ve never used split boots on my rides as I roll RWD only. But here’s the real problem: armchair analysis.
- Do you think road dirt/debris lodged inside the boot will eventually eat the axle bearings?
- Do you have any doubts to that question?
- Is that your final answer?
Only you can answer that and decide what’s worth your time/money. The $20-something for split boots is a cheap fix that’ll probably work, as you mentioned the axles are neither clunking nor popping: now try it from a standstill with the steering wheel turned at full lock (i.e. full left AND full right) and listen for the clunk.
If that test works out, well, go ahead and use the split boots. They will probably extend the life of the axle long enough to justify their expense.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.