car axle in auto shop

The axle of a vehicle is made up of a large bar, usually made of steel, that connects the wheels to the steering system, engine, and transmission. When a car axle snaps, you will usually know there is a problem because the tires simply will not spin. This can happen suddenly if you hit a curb or over time.

The Car Will Not Move

When your car tires refuse to rotate, this is the most obvious sign of a broken axle. The car will start fine. When you rev it, its engine will sound good. There are no electrical problems—no dashboard warning lights, no strange clicking sounds. It just will not budge. It is usually caused by a bent axle joint that eventually snaps.

Vehicle Stresses

Car axles are fairly resilient, but when they are stressed, you will feel it in the gas pedal. Your vehicle may begin to strain if an axle is bent or damaged. When you put it in gear, you will notice that it’s slow to get going. 

Sputtering Sounds

In addition to straining to move, the vehicle may make sputtering, bumping, or clunking noises. This is due to the axle’s inability to transfer sufficient power to the wheels. 

When the car starts moving, as well as when turning the wheels, these bad axle sounds will be audible.

Vibrations and wobbling of the wheels

Vibration can also be caused by underinflated tires, misaligned wheels, and loose lug nuts. However, if you notice any other signs of axle damage, do not dismiss them! When you notice vibrations caused by a damaged axle or other suspension issues, your car becomes extremely dangerous to drive.

Misalignment of Brake Pads

When your bent axle begins to fail, you will notice some braking issues. The brake pads will begin to shift and become misaligned with the wheels and rotors, causing the vehicle to skid or slip to a stop. The brakes will eventually stop working completely.


The brake seal on the driveshaft of an AWD or 4WD vehicle may shift and begin to leak small amounts of oil. When inspecting the brake drum, you will notice this. 

Axle CV joints can also leak grease, which is difficult to detect. However, once this occurs, the joints will begin to collect dirt, dry out, and deteriorate quickly.

There is no tire rotation.

The most common symptom of a broken axle is that your tires refuse to rotate. This can happen suddenly if your axle snaps while you are driving, or it can happen while you are attempting to accelerate from a stop. No matter how much power and torque you apply to the axle, it will not be able to rotate the wheels because it is broken.

If you experience any of these symptoms, do not drive your car because you will likely cause more damage and endanger yourself and others. It is critical to understand the critical function of drive axles and to have them inspected on a regular basis during vehicle maintenance. Though perhaps not as well known, axles are crucial to a vehicle’s proper operation and safety.

Instead, schedule a service appointment with a reputable and experienced mechanic. Master Muffler in West Valley, Utah, can provide excellent service while keeping you safe on the road. Our customer’s safety is our top priority. If you are not sure if your axle is broken, we can make sure and ease your concerns.

Categories: Auto Repair

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