Your driveshaft gaiters stop dirt and other mess getting into your driveshafts, but they can and do fail. So how do you check if they’re in rude health?
Your driveshaft gaiters are nothing more than little rubber socks that go ever the ends of your driveshafts. They’re a $10 part at best. But don’t let their innocence belie their importance.
Under a driveshaft gaiter is, at one end, an input shaft and at the other (in the most common case of front-wheel-drive cars) a constant velocity joint.
Without the gaiter, these grease-laden lovelies would become thick with dirt and filth that would go on to wear the driveshaft away.
Furthermore, worn driveshaft gaiters, or ‘boots’ as they’re otherwise known, are an MOT failure. So how do you check the condition of these vital little bits of rubber?
1) Raise the vehicle
You’re not going to get decent access while the car is on the ground, so get it jacked up and in the air. Once up, take the front wheels off – this should give you decent access.
2) Clean up
The wheel hub and the inner arch are probably going to be thick with road dirt and filth. You can’t inspect anything in that, so take a brush to it.
3) Turn the wheels
For the outer gaiters, turn the steering full lock, which will give you better access to get your head behind the wheel hub where you’ll be able to see the gaiter.
4) Present and correct?
Gaiters are held in place by circular clips, either metal or plastic. Check these first. If they’re still present, correct and tight that’s good. If they’re missing, you may well have dirt within the gaiter. Replace a missing tie asap, but not before pulling the gaiter back to check there’s nothing in there but grease.
5) Grease is the word
At the inner, gearbox, end check for any signs of grease leaking out. Again, check the ties and that they’re holding the gaiter tight and in place.
6) Feel for damage
The gaiters are rubber, and rubber is pliable. So get in there, pull them, twist them, pull them apart and look into the crevices. Look for any signs of cracking or cracked rubber, look for splits and cracks. You won’t see these in situ - you need to get your hands on the gaiters.
7) Clean, road test, repeat
Finally, if you can’t see anything awry, but you want to be sure, give everything a good clean and then photograph the gaiters. Go on a long test drive, making sure to stay on clean roads, and then have another look. On the test drive, be sure to do lots of tight turns to really flex the gaiters. If there are any grease spots when you look again, you know your gaiters are weeping. Simple.