You cannot drive a car with a broken axle. Doing so will cause steering instability and can result in a car accident.
There are two axles in a car located on its front that establish a connection between the car and its wheels. It’s advised that you don’t drive with a broken axle if even one of them is broken. Attempting to do so can result in an accident or cause the car to crash.
It’s recommended that you go in for a replacement with proper alignment when the axle is broken rather than trying to get it repaired.
What happens if your axle breaks while driving?
Your car will become immobile if its axle breaks when you’re driving the vehicle. When an axle starts failing while the car is in motion, the car begins pulling to a side as the wheel corresponding to the broken axle loses its power. If the axle breaks down completely, the wheel will stop turning. Although the engine may continue running, the car will get stalled.
In some cases, you will notice the wheel bearing getting seized. This will result in the disconnection of the wheel from the suspension. Sometimes, you may notice smoke emanating from the axle and both the front tires will point in different directions since the tire corresponding to the broken axle is disconnected completely.
How long can you drive with a bad axle?
You can drive your car around with a bad CV axle for about five months. However, if you live in a dry place that is free of or has less snow, dirt or rain, you may be able to drive your car for 6 months.
At the end of six months, you must take the car to your mechanic to get the bad axle replaced. It’s definitely not safe to go around with a broken axle after this period in your car. Failing to attend to such an axle can leave you stranded unexpectedly landing you in a fix.
What causes a broken axle?
Some reasons why your car may have a broken axle are worn-out car shocks, overloading the vehicle, metal fatigue or driving around with a damaged carrier bearing. A broken axle can also occur as a result of the car hitting a pothole, curb or bump on the road.
If you think your car has encountered one or more of the above issues at least a couple of times, you might want to get the vehicle checked for a broken axle.
Broken axle symptoms
There are some key symptoms when you have a broken axle in your car. If you notice one or more of them, it’s ideal that you get the car checked to see the condition of your axle. You can watch out for the following broken axle symptoms in your car.
- Car won’t move or keeps strutting
- Strain on the vehicle
- Oil or grease leak
- Misalignment of brake pad
- Vibrating and wobbling wheel and/or axle shaft
- Sputtering, humming and growling noises
What does a bad axle sound like?
You’re most likely to hear some unusual sounds if your car has a bad axle. The most common sound that you will hear because of a bad axle is a clicking sound. You will hear this sound every time you turn your car. The sound is really noisy when you do a fast or a sharp turn. There are chances that you may also hear a loud clunking or clanking noise from your car if it has a bad axle.
You may also experience excessive vibration that indicates your axle is worn-out. They become more prominent as you increase the speed of the car.
How do I know if my axle seals are bad?
There are some giveaway signs that your axle seals are bad. You can look out for them to know you have bad axle seals. A few signs of bad seals are a popping out axle shaft, fluid puddles and leakage around the seal.
You can look out for brake shoes that are soaked in oil and quite sticky. The leak can be identified by a layer of transmission fluid or gear oil around the seal. Depending on whether you have a small leak or a big one, the layer will be thin or thick.
How long do axles last?
The CV axles in a car with a powertrain warranty generally last for five years. This is about to 60,000 miles. However, there are instances where car owners have found that their axles have lasted a long time and they have gone up to 210,000 hours without any problem.
The lifespan of the car axles also depends on the condition of the road where you drive your car. If you drive your car often on bumpy roads, your axles are likely to wear out faster than usual.
How much does it cost to repair a broken axle?
The cost to repair a front axle is around 500-550 USD. The repair cost for a rear axle is slightly higher and is close to 799-900 USD.
The cost to repair a broken axle depends on whether you want to repair the front axle or rear axle of your car. It also depends on the type of car you have. On average, the repair cost ranges between 500 USD to 900 USD.
The labor cost ranges between 100 USD and 200 USD. In some cases, it can cost a little more. In other words, the actual cost depends on how much time the mechanic has to spend on repairing the axle for you.
How long does it take to fix a broken axle?
If you or your mechanic has the right set of tools, it would take anywhere between half an hour to an hour to repair the broken axle. It may sometimes take just about twenty minutes to get the fix done. However, it can take more than an hour if both the front and rear axles have to be fixed.
The duration taken to fix a broken axle depends on how much damage has been done to it. It also depends on whether any part has to be ordered and how long it takes to procure the part.
Often, you need a car jack, mechanical sockets with special brake tools, assorted wrenches, wheel sockets and a car stand.
For modern vehicles, replacing the front axle can take a considerably long time. This may be as long as an hour and a half.
If the axle is completely broken, the only way to get it fixed is to weld the axle. However, this will weaken the steel and the axle will often give way again. This is why it’s often advisable to go in for a replacement instead of a repair in the case of a fully broken axle.
How to move a car with a broken axle
The most common method to move a car with a broken axle is to either push or tow the vehicle. You can try any of the following methods to get such a car on the move.
- Push the car along on the side of the road by dragging it. You will have to do a pushing action because there is no connection between the vehicle drive train and the wheels of your car.
- Seek the assistance of another passing car or vehicle on the road to pull your car with the damaged axle along.
- Raise or lift the car at the rear end with a floor jack and push the vehicle to the nearest mechanic to get it fixed.
- Try moving the car with the transmission in neutral mode. Remember to keep the key in the ON position.
Can a broken axle damage the transmission of a car?
Yes, a broken axle can have an adverse effect on the transmission of a car. This is because the axle transfers the required power from the transmission to the wheels. When the axle is broken, the vibration takes place in an oval pattern instead of the standard circular pattern. This results in the differential present inside the transmission being prone to excessive wear and tear.
This wear can result in a damaged seal and can in turn cause a transmission leak if you move the axle near the inner joint closer to the transmission up and down. When this happens, you will have to get the transmission replaced. If you don’t want to go in for a replacement, you can also consider getting the transmission rebuilt along with a new differential.
If you hear a loud clunking or clanking noise when you try to put the car in gear, it is a key sign that the axle is faulty.
The noise is an indication of a failing transmission system. It becomes more prominent when you take a turn with the car than when you go straight. When the system fails, the transmission isn’t capable of powering the wheels to the required extent.
It’s worth noting that replacing the transmission can turn out to be an expensive deal in some instances.