Strictly speaking, an axle is any type of shaft that rotates a wheel or a gear. Around a century ago, a car axle would simply be an iron beam holding the wheels in place and supporting the weight of the car.
While the function is the same today, throughout the years, many advancements have been made which has led to different types of axles.
CV axles, half shafts, and axle shafts are terminologies that are synonymous in many cases, but for example, not all car axles are cv axles.
How much does it cost to repair a car axle? The price may differ depending on the setup of the car as well as the car make and model but expect to pay everything from $150 to $450.
Due to the vague definition of a car axle, it may be easy to confuse many different parts. In this article, we will go through CV axles or so-called half shafts and rear axle replacement.
Other axles include torsion beam suspension, beam axle (which also include live axles and dead axles).
Luckily, the car axle rarely breaks down, and if it does it is usually damaged due to big physical forces acting on it. This may be due to a small (or big) crash or running into big potholes.
Stay tuned to learn how to recognize a problem with your car axles and how much it costs to fix a broken one.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Bad Car Axle
There are several signs and symptoms that suggest damage to the car axle. If your car has been subject to big physical forces, such as a crash (regardless of the severity), you should always check the axles.
The most common sign and symptoms include vibrations, noises, and grease leaking to the wheels. In the following text, we will go through all these signs and symptoms.
It is worth noting that if you believe that your axles are bad, you should avoid driving as much as possible, and when you do drive, do it cautiously and safely.
Vibrations When Driving
The most serious sign of a bad car axle is vibrations when the car is in motion. The vibrations can be so bad that even passengers may feel it but can also be isolated only to the steering wheel.
As the car axle supports the weight of the car and keeps the wheels in place, the handling of the car will be greatly affected depending on the condition of the axle.
If this sign occurs, the car axle must be fully replaced in most cases, but there may be many other reasons for why your car is shaking when driving.
Unfortunately, a bad CV joint may also suggest that the whole axle is bad and to be fully replaced.
A clicking noise presents when the joint is bad while a rhythmic knocking sound is more suggestive of damage to the axle.
The CV joints are constantly rotating and are made up of moving parts that need lubrication. To make sure the joints work properly grease is present to lubricate all the parts.
If it turns out that there is a leak, all the grease will be leaking, and the joint will take further damage.
The grease may leak onto the wheels or under the car and will also show other symptoms as described above.
The most common types of axles are constant velocity axles, or CV axles for short. At the end of the CV axle, toward the wheel, you can find the CV joint.
A CV joint, just like a CV axle, are mostly used in front-wheel drive cars. The constant velocity joint makes it possible for the driveshaft to transmit the power at different angles and at a constant speed.
CV axles are also called half shafts as they are doing half the work in the axle. There is one CV axle for each front wheel.
If it turns out that only one side of the CV axle is bad, it is sufficient to only replace the side affected.
As previously stated, it is rare for the car axle to break down, but it does happen. It is more common that the CV joint breaks.
In many cases, only the CV boot of the joint needs to be replaced which is a job that is much lower than replacing the whole axle, around $100 with parts and labor.
Rear Axle Shaft
Most cars that are front-wheel drive use CV axles in the front, however, rear-wheel drive cars use a differential in the back that is connected to a rear axle shaft which in turn connects to the rear wheel.
Because the power is sent to the back, the front axle does not have a CV joint but a stub axle that works together with the kingpin, supporting the rotational movement of the front wheels.
This means that depending on the drivetrain, the cost can vary depending on the axle that is affected.
A dead axle means that it only bears the weight of the car, while a live axle transfers the power produced by the engine.
Car Axle Replacement Cost
If it turns out that a car axle is bad, it should be replaced, not repaired. The cost depends mostly on the car model and what type of axle is affected.
If you need to replace a CV axle, you can get one from $50 to $150, depending on the car model. It is recommended to buy an OEM axle, as universal CV axles may not suit your car very well.
Changing one CV axle takes one to three hours, which means that the labor cost equated to around $100 to $300, bringing a total between $150 and $450.
Keep in mind that both the CV axles may be bad which means that both have to be replaced, doubling the cost.
As previously noted, many axles exist and are up for personal interpretation what is meant by a car axle.
Nevertheless, you should be aware that a transaxle is a differential that is integrated with the transmission.
A broken axle shaft can damage the transaxle, making the repair bill several thousand dollars. You should therefore change a bad axle shaft as soon as possible; this is also due to personal safety concerns.
If luck is on your side and only the CV joint, or more specifically, the CV boot is the culprit, a replacement will set you back around $100 to $200.
If you feel comfortable changing the CV boot yourself, you can replace it for a much lower cost, closer to $30.
The cost to replace a rear axle shaft is similar to the cost of changing a CV axle, which is between $150 and $400.
Keep in mind that the cost depends on the drivetrain and the car model and the extent of the damage. The price can therefore fluctuate.
An axle can mean many things, most commonly it refers either to a constant velocity axle, which is seen in front-wheel drive cars, or a rear-wheel axle shaft, seen in rear-wheel drive cars.
Rear-wheel drive cars use a driveshaft that goes from the engine in the front to a differential in the back which sends the power to the rear wheels.
Because of that, they do not use CV axles in the front but a stub axle in each front wheel.
If the differential does not work properly, there is a chance that you can repair a part of it. A total replacement of the rear differential is an expensive story.
A live axel means that the axle is receiving power from the engine and sends it to the wheels. A dead axel does not receive any power, but only bears the weight of the car.
Many times, a bad axle is due to a car accident. Therefore, it is wise to give it an extra check to see if any internal parts, including the axle has been cracked, especially if the wheel is affected.
The car axle can also get bad through time and will give off signs and symptoms pointing to the problem.
A very bad car axle will give off vibrations that can be felt throughout the car. Less intense faults will present as bad, knocking or clicking noise.
Grease may also leak to the wheels or beneath the car suggesting a problem in the area.
Remember that you should not drive a car with bad axles, and if you do (to get it to the mechanic, for example), be very cautious and drive at very low speeds.
If a car axle is bad, it should be replaced and not repaired. If only a part of the axle is damaged, such as the CV boot, it can be replaced, without replacing the rest of the axle.
You do not have to replace both sides if only one is bad. The cost to replace a CV axle is around $150 to $450.
The price depends on the car model, the brand of the parts, as well as the labor cost at the specific repair shop.