How I made a simple job much more difficult!

This is a tale of woe about a job in the Golf which should have been easy but for a variety of reasons (mostly my stupidity) turned out to be a complete nightmare!

It all started with the approach of the MOT. I knew that there was a problem with the near side CV boot which would not get through the test so I bought a new one and set about replacing it. Various on-line videos show this task and they all basically say that the best plan is to remove the complete drive shaft and replace the boot on the bench. To do this you have to disconnect the drive shaft from the gear box by removing six bolts some of which you can see in the photo below.

Gearbox end of driveshaft

I agree that the bolts aren’t very clear in this photo and they weren’t very clear in real life either. I deduced that they were Torx drive (for which I have suitable drivers) and set about trying to release them. Unfortunately after removing two but completely stripping the heads of two more I had to give up and go with “Plan B”. This involves doing the whole job on the car by releasing the ball joint and pulling the end of the drive shaft out of the hub.

I hate ball joints! As always, the mechanics in online videos just smack the thing with a hammer and it comes apart but this never works for me! However, on this occasion things went even worse.

I, of course, couldn’t shift it no matter how much I hammered and then I managed to somehow jam the nut on the top so had to cut the ball joint off which meant buying a new one. Of course this had to be bolted onto the wishbone meaning that the steering would need to be re-aligned. I could just have unbolted the old one and saved myself all the trouble!

I managed to get the new boot on and bolt it all back together. When I started to drive it the transmission made a slight clonking noise which I put down to the misaligned steering and headed to my MOT which it passed!

Unfortunately, on the way back from the MOT there was a loud noise and the car stopped moving. It was immediately clear that the transmission had failed so I had to call out Britannia Rescue. Fortunately they arrived quite quickly and I was only a couple of miles from home.

Reviewing the problem it appeared that the drive shaft had come out of the hub. Clearly, as I was working with it still on the car I hadn’t managed to snap it back in properly. So, now I needed to do the job properly and remove the six bolts. It was at this point that I started to find a lot of comments online which all basically said:

I tried to remove the drive shaft on my Golf, but when I came to undo the six Torx bolts I just stripped the heads. Why is this?

Well, it turns out that this is because they aren’t Torx bolts at all, but “Triple Square” bolts also known as “12 point” or “XZN”. For some strange reason VW like to use these and it catches a lot of people out. Mind you, they don’t stick to XZNs and elsewhere on the engine you can find both Torx and hex bolts to maximise the chances of confusion! So, now I had to buy a set of XZN drivers and – to be sure of removing the stripped bolts – a bolt removing kit. I also bought six new bolts!

With the correct tool now available I set about having another go at removing the bolts. I discovered that if I hammered the XZN drivers into the damaged heads I could get enough grip to remove them. So, finally I was able to get the drive shaft off and inspect the CV joint.

At this point there was even more bad news. I had worked on the thesis that the problem was that the spline had simply come out and I could push it back in but properly this time. Unfortunately, I discovered that it must have only partly come out and then sheered off the end as you can see in the photo below.

End of old drive shaft with section sheered off

So now I needed a new drive shaft. Well, obviously new drive shafts are very expensive. Fortunately, scrap yards are very much online these days and there are agents who will take a part requirement and get quotes from vehicle recyclers all over the UK. I was therefore able to buy a used drive shaft for a much more reasonable price.

When it turned up it still had an undamaged CV boot (so no need to change that now) and undamaged bolts, but the coating was damaged and it had started to rust. It appears that this is a common problem as my offside drive shaft and both ends of my anti-roll bar were in a similar state. I therefore elected to strip off the damaged coatings and paint all of them.

Replacement drive shaft after painting

The remainder of the task was relatively simple. I refitted the drive shaft using the bolts supplied with it, replaced both anti-roll bar drop links (one of which was getting MOT advisories) and returned for an MOT re-test which it passed.

With this task complete I was able to move on to replacing the timing belts which I will cover in a later blog!