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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey folks,

I take my lifted Transit AWD down some pretty gnarly roads on the regular. That's my preferred usage, and I have zero plans of changing that. I'm aware there are ongoing costs of such usage, and I'm fine with that. Please, just assume this thread mostly applies to owners who have similar usage patterns. If that's not you, no sweat, just ignore it.

With that in mind, it appears the front inner passenger CV boot is not only exposed, but the material Ford uses is so stiff it's almost like plastic. Once the Ford CV boot material is depressed sufficiently by a small rock or other debris, it will permanently deform and/or puncture quite easily, then throw grease everywhere. At some point if you get enough dust/dirt/water into the joint, it'll fail, possibly causing other damage in the process.

I spoke with Van Compass and they said they get calls about this, and may even put together an upgrade kit. Fortunately, the driver side inner cv boot appears to be somewhat less exposed, although it's that same stiff material. And even though an aftermarket boot vendor said generally speaking outer boots rupture far more often than inner, on the Transit it appears the outer boots are somewhat better protected by the control arm. That may explain why all the forum posts I found on cv boot issues were only for the passenger inner, which is the same one I ruptured. I asked VC about a plate to protect it, but they felt like the ford boot material was the real culprit.

If you take your rig to a Ford service department with a ruptured cv boot, they'll only replace the entire passenger front axle, total cost around $500-$600, and now you have the same crummy Ford cv boot that will just rupture again someday. And they won't upgrade the boots to an aftermarket set, so obviously I'm not going that route.

You'd think upgrading to better cv boots would be easy, but aftermarket ones have to be expanded over the CV joint using a pneumatic tool or a sketchy but doable greased cone trick. Some split boots can be glued together, but they just don't look appealing to me. For the better expanding boot options, you have to remove the front axle, or maybe you could do it with the axle still installed and the vehicle on lift jacks while you try to stretch and shove the boot on, but you'd still have to remove the hub, and I can't tell just how much work that involves. You also need a tool for the CV boot clamps, a torque wrench (which I probably should own anyways), and the pneumatic expansion tool costs $230 while the greased "cone" trick has many people saying they ruptured the boot trying it.

I found a local garage that already has the pneumatic tool and says they can do it, and I just ordered some really nice high-angle silicone CV boots from a website Van Compass directed me to, but I'd like to double check the garage's work.

I believe removing the front axle will cause some of the front differential lubricant to drain, and the site I bought the upgraded boots from said they usually drain it to avoid making a mess when you remove the axle. UPDATE: my local guy says with the van jacked up on one side very little will drain. But if you do want to drain and refill, see posts later in this thread. I was able to get the front diff fluid info from my local Ford service tech, and sure enough it's not the same as the rear, which you can easily lookup in your owner's manual; ignore the fact that this lubricant is marketed for rear diffs, see top left below; this is for the front per Ford:
Rectangle Font Material property Screenshot Parallel


If anyone has removed the passenger front axle on an AWD for any reason (@cosmicjumperalex ?), and can provide input on how easy that is (or not), please let me know. I'm half tempted to just do this job myself. The driver's side inner boot is somewhat better protected by the subframe, but it's possible I'll want to upgrade it someday as well, so learning now could help me avoid paying that shop twice. Right now I just want to do the passenger side and drive it for a month or two.

Here's my passenger inner cv boot damage. I drive through thick sand with small rocks fairly often, so this will happen again on an OEM ford boot. It's possible I got a little sand in there, but centripetal force has been flinging the packed grease out from the moment this happened, and I caught it pretty quickly (3-4 days after), so I think if I clean out the joint before repacking with fresh grease, it's probably fine. It's not making any metallic clicking or grinding noises, although the deformed boot does sometimes make a rubbery flipping sound at low speeds.
Automotive tire Water Tire Tread Synthetic rubber

Below is a photo, and here's a link for the nice upgraded silicone boots I ordered from this site Van Compass directed me to (they didn't send ship confirmation, but they shipped very fast). VC originally pointed me to that cheaper set from the same site, but I want to try the high angle ones. They seem to have the right number of folds, and look like they fit well on this guy's install who had the same boot failure issue. He doesn't seem to be active on the forum anymore. I'm using his photo here, which also shows how the outer boot is protected by the control arm (black metal bottom center), but the inner boot, while higher up, sits forward of the control arm, and the entire boot is outward of the subframe (unlike the driver's side), so it's exposed to any rocks kicked up by high center berm sandy/rocky surfaces, which punctured mine at just 10k miles. That means it'll definitely happen again someday if I just replace the front axle at the local Ford dealership.

Cheers.
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I drove a few miles in the Mojave two weeks ago with a few spots where I dragged on the center berm. Thanks for the heads up and I better crawl underneath and check. BTW, you refer to “transfer case fluid”. Do you mean the front diff?
 

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Can you fabricate a shield of some kind to mount in front of the inner boot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I drove a few miles in the Mojave two weeks ago with a few spots where I dragged on the center berm. Thanks for the heads up and I better crawl underneath and check. BTW, you refer to “transfer case fluid”. Do you mean the front diff?
You know I originally wrote it as front differential. In hindsight it was right the first time, since the transfer case obviously sends power to the two differentials. I've been under an allergy brain fog all week, and I'm more of an EE than an ME, hence this post looking for input from anyone who has removed the passenger front axle. I'll edit above. Thanks.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Can you fabricate a shield of some kind to mount in front of the inner boot?
I asked VC about that but they were in favor of better boots, so I'm going to try that first. It's not a good area to try to add a shield due to the changing wheel angle and suspension travel, but there might be a way.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Okay, good news. I was able to convince my local Ford Service Department to go hunting for the answer to the front differential fluid / lubricant type and quantity. At first they couldn't find it either, but then the last guy I spoke with checked something I believe he referred to as the "workshop manual," which had it listed. I want to get a copy of that entire document. I know there have been discussions about Helm CD manuals and other sources for tech/service documents like this one (search for 15% off promo codes) but I sure wish that info was freeware and published on wikileaks or something. I mean come on, end-users should be able to access those docs.

Anyhow, the front differential uses 0.8Qt of Motorcraft 75W-140 Synthetic XY75W140QL (sold on Amazon), which is not the same as the rear. It's marketed for rear diffs but note the top left of this screenshot, it is definitely for the transit AWD front differential:
Rectangle Font Material property Screenshot Parallel

I ordered 1 Qt to bring to the local garage so we can just drain the diff and refill if necessary, or top up.

I also found this on another pay-site, which specifies Motorcraft X 11 grease for the axle and wheel bearings. I went ahead and ordered a tube on bay for $20.
Rectangle Font Screenshot Number Software

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
These may come in handy for anyone who wants to brave it on their own without the special tools. One disappointment is the nut for the lower control arm is supposed to be discarded and replaced after removal. I guess I can try keeping the same one, but I'm not thrilled about that. I might try to order a replacement from Ford, we'll see. I sure hope my local garage can do this without messing anything up. It seems like the guy mentioned above had no problem.

Front axle half shaft right hand side (passenger) removal instructions:
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Font Rim
Photograph White Product Camera Cameras & optics
Light Purple Product Font Violet
White Light Product Yellow Font
Line Font Auto part Screenshot Electric blue
Bicycle part Line Font Engineering Machine

Cheers.
 

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What are those screenshots from?
 

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Okay, good news. I was able to convince my local Ford Service Department to go hunting for the answer to the front differential fluid / lubricant type and quantity. At first they couldn't find it either, but then the last guy I spoke with checked something I believe he referred to as the "workshop manual," which had it listed. I want to get a copy of that entire document. I know there have been discussions about Helm CD manuals and other sources for tech/service documents like this one (search for 15% off promo codes) but I sure wish that info was freeware and published on wikileaks or something. I mean come on, end-users should be able to access those docs.
Honestly, I would not mind paying for it as an option at purchase. $200 for a CD for proper workshop manual? On a $50,000 rig? No-brainer. Gimmeh. The fact that it is damned unobtanium is the thing which is vexing.

I was able to find an official PDF for my Nissan Frontier, and has been awesome. Torque values, procedures, everything. And, searchable!

I rather suspect that the service manuals' availability (well, lack thereof) is a calculus by the manufacturer and how it affects the dealers' profits (AFAIK, the service department is quite profitable for dealers).

Regardless of all of that, a huge THANK YOU for posting your journey here, and for images for the screenshots. We get to live vicariously through you. <GRIN>
 

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Honestly, I would not mind paying for it as an option at purchase. $200 for a CD for proper workshop manual? On a $50,000 rig? No-brainer. Gimmeh. The fact that it is damned unobtanium is the thing which is vexing.

I was able to find an official PDF for my Nissan Frontier, and has been awesome. Torque values, procedures, everything. And, searchable!

I rather suspect that the service manuals' availability (well, lack thereof) is a calculus by the manufacturer and how it affects the dealers' profits (AFAIK, the service department is quite profitable for dealers).

Regardless of all of that, a huge THANK YOU for posting your journey here, and for images for the screenshots. We get to live vicariously through you. <GRIN>
You can buy the official manuals and wiring guides here:
Helm Inc-Your Source for Factory Authorized Service Information
There are also knock off pdf discs on E-Bay that have both the manual and wiring guide for $40
 

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You can buy the official manuals and wiring guides here:
Helm Inc-Your Source for Factory Authorized Service Information
There are also knock off pdf discs on E-Bay that have both the manual and wiring guide for $40
Thank you for the link. It must be my lack of experience, but I would not have associated Helm and Ford. Eh. Par for the course, I guess?

Because I was curious, looked at what's available for model year 2022. Fair. Too new, possibly not available yet. Let's try model year 2021's shop/service manual. Sadly, nope.
I suspect that with time, those'd be available, but not at the moment it seems. Back to my wishing that I could ask for these things at the time of purchase from an official representative of the company (that's how I view the dealership).
 

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2021 Helm manual is on eBay for $60
 

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Thank you for the link. It must be my lack of experience, but I would not have associated Helm and Ford. Eh. Par for the course, I guess?

Because I was curious, looked at what's available for model year 2022. Fair. Too new, possibly not available yet. Let's try model year 2021's shop/service manual. Sadly, nope.
I suspect that with time, those'd be available, but not at the moment it seems. Back to my wishing that I could ask for these things at the time of purchase from an official representative of the company (that's how I view the dealership).
$40 for 2020 ebay disc might be close enough for most things and/or 'til/if the 2022 model year one is issued. IIRC the manual MIGHT now be possibly only available in a $$$ form that includes all trucks. If I am all wet on that, well at least it's a good internet rumor to start. Hope you didn't order the dual note horn. :ROFLMAO:
 

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I had same issue in March 2021 when Helm was not going to release 2021 manual on CD until Dec 2021. So only method I found was to access it on Helm's website which is a pain to use. 72 hour access is $22. So I created scripts to download everything from the website. A bit more work and familiarity with coding helps but not to hard to complete. Scripts and directions to use them are in thread Found low cost source for 2021 and all other year Transit workshop manual & electrical diagrams. The CDs seem to be the same dump of the website material that you view in your web browser and do benefit from better organization and hyper links between docs than the script generated PDFs. I use the 'find' feature a lot in the PDFs and extra useful is 'find in all docs in directory' option.
 

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This is a great thread. Do you mind posting where and part number for your silicone boots?
 

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Also, as an FYI, if you're willing to disassemble the constant velocity joints themselves, one does not require a special stretching tool. I have replaced CV boots on subarus, and it was messy but overall not bad. The process of install and removal on the transit looks exactly the same as most. Typically if you have the side you're working on jacked up, you won't lose any fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you for the link. It must be my lack of experience, but I would not have associated Helm and Ford. Eh. Par for the course, I guess?

Because I was curious, looked at what's available for model year 2022. Fair. Too new, possibly not available yet. Let's try model year 2021's shop/service manual. Sadly, nope.
I suspect that with time, those'd be available, but not at the moment it seems. Back to my wishing that I could ask for these things at the time of purchase from an official representative of the company (that's how I view the dealership).
I can't vouch for quality, but I just ordered the 2020 version. For $40, why not.

Here's the 2022 version:

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Also, as an FYI, if you're willing to disassemble the constant velocity joints themselves, one does not require a special stretching tool. I have replaced CV boots on subarus, and it was messy but overall not bad. The process of install and removal on the transit looks exactly the same as most. Typically if you have the side you're working on jacked up, you won't lose any fluid.
Good to know. I'm half tempted to do this job myself, but my local guy has the tool, and he has pullers for the control arm, and lots of experience, so I plan to watch and learn while he does the passenger side, then I may brave the driver's side myself someday if it becomes necessary.

I've historically avoided significant mechanical work on a vehicle's critical systems, since my background is EE, and I didn't want to void the warranty, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm just throwing away money. I'm fairly capable and have plenty of tools.

My guy said the same thing as you about having it jacked up and only losing a tiny bit of fluid. I bought the diff fluid Amazon prime so if he doesn't use any or if I only see a cap full drip out, I'll just return and get refunded.

Is there any process to disassembling the joint itself? The ford workshop service manual doesn't get into that. Does it just pull apart, or is there a release mechanism? I kind of want to clean out the joint completely in-case I got any sand/dust in there, versus just removing the old boot and immediately installing/repacking the new one. But not if there's risk of damaging the joint when disassembling, or little clasps or pins or something that might get damaged.

The silicone boots are linked in the first post, but I may not have worded it clearly. I linked it under "this site that Van Compass directed me to."

Happy to help spread the word. This forum has helped me many times over.

Cheers.
 
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