Our 2003 Audi A6 Quattro had developed a clicking noise coming from the front passenger wheel area while turning. That is a symptom of the CV joint becoming a problem. I inspected the CV boot and it was completely broken open. At the recommendation of a friend I decided to replace the entire CV axle on both sides.
I did my standard YouTube research and found this video suggesting this was not too difficult of a repair. Uh-huh.
He mentioned a few specific tools necessary to do the job such as a 10 mm triple square spline bit (like a Torx bit, but 12 points) to remove the CV axle from where it connects to the drive and and 17 mm hex bit socket to remove it from the wheel hub. The new CV axles came with new standard bolts to attach to the wheel hub so I picked up a 27 mm socket for that. I borrowed an electric impact wrench to assist. Ready to roll.
Initially, I planned to tackle this on a Saturday with the hope of finishing in one day. I decided to start the night before. That was a wise choice. With the car up on a jack stand and the wheel removed on the passenger side taking out the one axle bolt in the center of the wheel hub did not present too much of a challenge other than requiring a lot of torque.
Next there are three bolts requiring a 6 mm hex bit to remove the heat shield. That allows access to the six bolts connecting the axle to the drive which take the 10 mm triple square spline bit. I had to use multiple socket extensions to get at these bolts. All 18 were difficult with very last triple square bolt being the worst. I stripped it out and ended up forcibly removing it by drilling it out and cutting the head off with my Dremel. I was not able to get the entire bolt out so that axle is only attached with five bolts.
I got the first axle free in about 90 minutes. However, I could not turn the wheel far enough to get it out. I struggled with it for another 90 minutes with no progress. I figured loosening up some suspension and/or steering components would allow more movement. The two bolts which connect the wheel assembly to the strut were the only ones accessible and not seized up.
Unfortunately, one of the bolts on each side could not be removed because of the proximity to the frame. I had to cut the heads off of each those by hand with a hacksaw blade. That was the hardest part of this whole deal taking 30 minutes for each bolt resulting in a visit to my chiropractor on Monday. I suppose a reciprocating saw would have done the trick in this situation, but I did not have one.
Once I had those two bolts out I was able to swing the wheel assembly far enough away to get the old axle out. After all that, putting the new one in was easy in comparison. Following this type of work on a vehicle it might be a good idea to get the alignment checked, but I did not feel it was needed.
This was a tough, physically demanding repair. It took me 12 hours over the course of two days. I spent $125 for the parts and about $70 on tools. My local dealership quoted me $300 parts and 4 hours of labor for a total of $750. Was it worth it? I think so. While my estimate for this job was 8 hours, I had the additional time to spend on this. Sure I could have spent the extra $550 and had the dealership do it, but where is the fun in that?