Changing CV boots on IFS Isuzus.
Short Cuts
Authoring and Photography By:Dan Houlton
First Published: May 2000

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Re-assembling The CV Joint
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Lining up the balls and cage for insertion into the CV cup.

This is the part that can be a little difficult to get.  You need to let the vehicle back down so that it's weight is on the jack stand under the lower a-arm.  In order to get the inner portion of the CV joint into the outer CV cup, the cage must be as parallel as possible to the cup.

You'll notice that the cage will pivot around on the race.  As you're guiding it into the cup, push forward at the top of the cage to pivot it towards parallel with the cup.  You'll also notice again the grooves in the cup.  You must turn the half shaft so that the balls of the inner joint line up with these grooves as you insert it.  If you have manual hubs, you can lock it and turn the rotor to turn the half shaft, otherwise you'll have to turn the half shaft itself.

This can be frustrating and you'll swear there's no way it'll go in, but once you get it the first time, you'll have the "feel" for it and future jobs will be easy.  If you're still having problems, this is where un-cranking the torsion bar can help.  Un-crank the bar a few turns, counting them so you can re-crank when you're done.  With the vehicle weight on the lower a-arm, this will cause that arm to lift a bit.  

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A jack stand under the hub will hold the spindle up and the CV joint together while you re-install the circlip.

When it does lift, it'll want to jam the CV joint back together so turn the steering wheel towards the side you're working on so that the spindle will fall outwards further.  When you're done, the end of the CV joint is still outside the cup, but the half shaft is not at such an extreme angle and it'll be easier to pivot and guide the race and balls into the cup.

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Here you can see the circlip about to slip back into place.  The gap in the circlip is not centered over a groove.

Once you do get joint going back together, push inward on the spindle to push the inner portion of the CV joint all the way into the cup.  Grab another jack stand and place it under the hub itself so that it holds the spindle up and the joint will stay together when you release the spindle.

Now go ahead and re-insert the spring steel circlip inside the inner edge of the cup.  When doing so, be sure that you do it such that the split in the circlip is over a land in the cup.  In other words, all the grooves that the balls ride in should have a solid piece of circlip across them.  If the split ends up in a groove, pull the circlip back out and re-insert it rotated slightly.


Finishing The Boot
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The new clamp and big end of the boot about to go on.

Now comes the fun part.  At this point, the CV joint is back together and fully greased.  The CV boot is on and the small end of the boot has not yet been clamped.  The weight of the vehicle is on the jack stand under the lower a-arm and you have another jack stand holding the spindle up so that the CV joint is plunged as deep as it'll go into the outer cup.  Now you need to slip the big end of the boot up over the CV cup and get a clamp on it.

Start by putting the large clamp on at it's loosest setting and let it slide down around the small end of the boot out of the way.  Now slide the boot up so that it's over the bottom part of the cup.  Using two hands, wrap your fingers around the sides and bottom of the cup and boot to hold the lower portion of the boot in place and use your thumbs to push the boot up and over the top of the cup.

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After the big end of the boot and clamp are on, cinch the clamp down with a pair of side cutters.

This is the part that usually takes the longest.  Everything's greasy and it's hard for you to get a grip on the boot with your thumbs.  It helps immensely if you wrap a paper towel around the boot to give you a better grip on it.  If your torsion bars are cranked, you may struggle for a while with this, but it will go up over the cup.  You may just want to crank the t-bars down though.  The looser they are, the more parallel the half shaft will be and the easier the boot will slip up over the cup.

Once you do get it over the cup, use one hand to hold the boot on the top side of the cup firmly while you slide the clamp up and around the big end.  If you don't hold it, the boot will slide back off the cup.  

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The clamped boot.

Once you get the clamp up over the big end of the boot though, it's safe to let go.  If you can, try to squeeze the clamp down to a tighter notch.  The tighter you can get it the better.

There are special tools for cinching these clamps and they work very nice usually, but you can use a pair of side cutters / wire snips if that's all you have.  The side cutters tend to make the cinched portion of the clamp stick up while the special tool will keep it flatter, but it makes little difference in this case.  If you use side cutters, remember you're just trying to cinch the clamp up, not snip it off.  You can squeeze it pretty hard, but don't put all your might into it.

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The ridge on the half shaft just above the outer boot is the raised sealing portion for the inner boot.

Clamping the small end of the boot is easy from here.  Slide the small end of the boot over the ridge so that it's tight against the lower boot.  Put the clamp on and cinch it down.

This is something I changed though when I was tearing inner boots every time I went wheeling.  There is a raised portion at the center of the half shaft that the inner ends of the boots sit on.  Stock, the small ends of the inner and outer boots rest tight up against each other.  When you have the t-bars cranked for lift though, this really stretches the inner boot and leads to frequent tears.

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The small end of the inner boot is slid inward from stock to stretch the boot less.

What I've done is leave the small end of the boot inward of this raised portion so that it doesn't stretch the boot as much.  The shaft here is slightly thinner, but the clamp will still cinch it down tight to seal it.  

This last boot that I replaced lasted for just over a year installed this way and there were no signs of water or dirt getting in through the small end of the boot.  Grease does tend to squirt out a little bit and covers the exposed portion of the half shaft and that will collect dirt, but it hurts nothing.

I highly suggest trying this if you're having trouble repeatedly tearing boots.  I've also used a heavy duty plastic zip tie to cinch down the small end of the boot.  I'm not so sure you can get them as tight as the metal clamps which may be why they leaked a little bit of grease out, but they do hold tight enough to keep the elements out.  With this new boot, I'm using the metal clamp so I'll see if that makes a difference.


Putting Things Back Together
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Tighten the castle nut to line one of the windows up with the hole in the tapered shaft.

The last step now is to re-connect the upper ball joint and brake caliper.  After getting the boot completely on, pull the upper a-arm back down and guide the tapered shaft of the ball joint into the hole in the spindle.  Wiggle the spindle back and forth while pressing down on the a-arm and the shaft will slide most of the way into the hole.

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Re-insert the cotter key and bend the ends back.

Spin the castle nut on from underneath and torque it down tight.  Once it gets close to the tightness you want, watch the windows in the castle nut and line one of them up with the hole in the tapered shaft.

Then re-install the cotter key and bend the ends of it back to ensure it won't fall out and the nut won't come off.  A new cotter key is always preferred, but the old one will do if it's not broken or cracked.

Before replacing the brake caliper, it's a good idea to clean the rotor off with brake cleaner.  It's quite likely that you've got grease on it from pushing on the spindle with greasy hands.  Be careful not to twist the brake line the wrong way and the brake caliper will go back on just like it came off.  As long as you haven't hit the brakes at all, the pads should slide on over the rotor easily.  This is, of course, a good time to check the condition of your pads as well.  Re-install the two large bolts that hold the caliper in place.

Finally, jack the vehicle back up and remove the jacks from under the hub and lower a-arm and put the wheel back on.  While it's still jacked up, now is the time to re-crank the torsion bar.  You did count the number of turns you un-cranked it right?  Crank it back up the same number of turns.   Let the vehicle down and you're done.  Un-lock the hub if you locked it during the procedure.


Final Notes

Good luck with the procedure.  This will take you a little time the first time you do it, but it's really not as hard as it may sound.  Allow yourself some extra time the first time, but unless you run into some other complications I wouldn't expect it to take more than a few hours.

With a little practice, you'll be doing one side in about an hour and won't have to adjust the torsion bars to do it.  The real tricks are getting the inner portion of the CV joint back into the CV cup, and getting the big end of the boot over the cup.  Once you get them the first time, the rest of the times will go a lot quicker and easier.

And finally, remember that this is for a '94 Amigo.  I can't absolutely guarantee this will work for all the IFS Isuzus as different years and models do have slightly different geometry, but I'm quite certain it will.  The only thing that could hamper it is if the spindle won't drop outward far enough that you can lift the inner end of the half shaft up to work on it.  Worst possible case if this happens is that you'll need to remove the 4 bolts holding the lower ball joint to the lower a-arm and you can practically pull the spindle completely out of the way.  Remove the outer tie rod as well and you can remove the spindle entirely.

For questions or comments, please use the Isuzu 4x4 & SUV Forum.  It'll better help everyone to ask and answer questions there instead of through private emails.


Contacts & Related Information:

Installing Manually-Locking Hubs

Regular Maintenance