Piston Slap: New CV Boots? A Split Decision!

TTAC Commentator Detroit Iron writes:

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?

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