What is a Car Axle?

July 22,2015

A car axle is an essential part of your vehicle. Without it, your wheels wouldn’t move. You probably know that functional brakes, tires, engines, or steering systems are crucial components when it comes to car safety. But a sound axle is just as vital. Read on to find out more about the importance of axles. 

car axle

How Does an Axle Work?

To put it simply, a car axle spins in order to move a vehicle’s wheels. Think of a railroad car or a Radio Flyer wagon. The axle is the bar, steel rod, or shaft that connects the wheels and holds the weight of the vehicle.

Front-Wheel vs. Rear-Wheel Drive

On a motorized vehicle, the axle transfers engine power and torque from the transmission to the drive wheels. Contemporary front-wheel drive vehicles often will combine the transmission and the front axle into what is called a transaxle. On vehicles with rear-wheel drive, the engine connects to a drive shaft. The drive shaft turns the drive axle in the back of the vehicle.

Split Axles

Most modern cars have a split axle with universal joints between two half axles. A constant velocity (CV) joint connects each of these to a wheel. As a result, each wheel has independent suspension, pivots when making turns, and turns at different speeds. This leads to improved tire traction and a longer tire life.

Signs of a Broken Axle

A broken axle is often the result of overloading. However, a bad carrier bearing or even an unfortunate pothole experience can also lead to a broken axle. If you hear rumbling or feel vibrating when you accelerate or turn your car, this is a sign of an axle going bad. You might also hear loud clicking or banging when you shift gears. Most of the time, a broken axle is a hard problem to ignore.

Once your axle breaks at the universal joint, you won’t be able to drive your car. Pushing down on the accelerator will just rev the engine. It won’t make the car go.

If you think your axle is going bad or have any other questions about maintaining the safety and functioning of your vehicle, stop by Veenstra’s today for a 22-point inspection.