What Causes a Broken Axle? Signs of a Broken Axle

The rarest mechanical nightmare that can happen to your car is a broken axle. One sure way to know you have a broken axle is that your tire will stop spinning. But, unless you have an old car or get into a fatal accident, you may not face this in the useful life of your properly maintained vehicle.

Generally, a car has an axle pair, and larger vehicles have two pairs. Axles are directly connected to the wheels, and without them, your wheels will not turn. Please continue reading to know what causes a broken axle, the signs that your axle has gone bad, how much it costs to fix your axle, and many more.

What can cause an axle to break?

What can cause an axle to break

An axle can break due to any of the following:

  • Bad road conditions such as potholes and large bumps that continually stress the axle
  • Driving with a high payload, that is, overloading the vehicles with a load beyond its capacity
  • Fatal automobile accidents that cause undercarriage or wheel damage
  • Older vehicles with high mileage can have a broken axle due to brittleness and the rust of mechanical components.

Important note:

You can extend the life of your axle by driving carefully whenever you are on a rough route. However, avoid overloading your vehicle beyond its capacity. You can damage your wheels and suspension system if you do not slow down for bumps, potholes, and other road hazards.

What are the signs of a broken axle?

Here are some signs to look out for to know if you have a broken axle.


axle CV joint

Oil leakage is imminent when the brake seal in your vehicle’s driveshaft shifts. For an axle CV joint, leakage is not detectable. However, when you notice your axle joints collecting dirt and drying out fast, then it just might be the sign you need.

Wheel wobbling and vibrations

A damaged axle causes your wheels to vibrate and makes your car dangerous to drive. You cannot imagine your tire stops spinning on the highway.

Brake pad misalignment

Some braking issues are linked to the axle, especially when your vehicle skids frequently due to misalignment of the braking system with the rotors and wheels. Eventually, your brake stops functioning.

Vehicle Strains

Your car strains when you have a bad axle, and you will notice this through the delay in power transfer to your wheels. Though axles are resilient, you can know when they are under pressure by the feel you get from using your pedal.

The car will not budge

Of course, the worst sign of a broken axle is that your tires will stop rotating. At that point, your car’s axle has gone bad, not that it’s about to go bad. The engine will start and run smoothly, the dashboard lights will come on with no unusual sound, but your tires won’t just move. You will need a towing van to help you to the nearest repair shop.

Sputtering noises

Bumping, clunking or sputtering noises are heard when your axle cannot transfer power to the wheels. This sound is audible when you begin to accelerate.

What happens if your axle breaks while driving?

What happens if your axle breaks while driving

It is a dangerous thing for your axle to break while driving. However, you can know it has gone bad while on the wheels because it starts to pull to one side immediately. The wheel loses power and no longer turns; though the engine may run, the car will be brought to a stop anytime soon.

You can also notice smoke from your axle, and your tires will not point in the same direction. To avoid an accident, immediately you notice this, try to get out of traffic before calling a tow truck. Although, this remains one of the things you never want to experience.

What sound does a broken axle make?

You hear an unusual loud clunking or clanking sound when you switch to new gear. This noise is developed because power is not getting to the wheels because of a broken axle. Your car needs inspection immediately this is noticed. This applies to any noise you notice in your vehicle; it indicates a fault.

How long can you drive on a bad axle?

It is not advisable to drive a bad axle; if you must, it is to buy time to repair it. It could take weeks, months, and even years before it finally breaks down. However, it takes an average of five to six months before a total breakdown.

Do not stretch the deadline once you notice a bad axle. Instead, go straight to your mechanic’s workshop to avoid costlier repairs or even risking your life while driving.

How much does it cost to fix a broken axle?

front axle costs

To fix a broken front axle costs between $500 to $600 before fees and taxes. The labor cost is around $50 to $140, which depends on the brand and model of your car. For the rear axle, the cost runs from $430 to $480, while labor is around $50 to $70. The price is also affected by the time spent on the repairs.


How long do axles last?

Axles last as long as the vehicle’s life, depending on usage and maintenance. It can last up to 100,000 miles to put a cap on it.

Can a broken axle affect transmission?

Yes, a broken axle affects transmission. If you have a broken axle, there will be no way to transfer power to the transmission system and the wheels.

Will a car move with a broken axle?

Once the axle is broken, your car will not move. If you suspect some signs that your axle is about to go bad, check in to a mechanic workshop immediately.

Does insurance cover broken axles?

Yes, if you have collision coverage, it can cover your broken axle under certain conditions. For example, your insurance company will pay for the repairs whether your axle got damaged when you collided with a guard rail or another car.

Wrapping Up

Vehicle maintenance and inspection play a critical role in ensuring you are not risking your life while driving. Your axles are as important as your engine to your vehicle. An understanding that all these mechanical parts work in sync will make you watch out for the signs and what causes a broken axle. We hope you had a good read.

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