What is a Car Axle, Explained

Your car is made of many moving parts that work together seamlessly. Like an orchestra, these parts come together at just the right time to make it all work. As a result, you get to drive without really thinking about the mechanics of your car and how it works. But there’s one part that literally keeps your car moving and that is the car axle.  Read on to learn what is an axle, how many axles a car has, and everything you need to know.

What is a Car Axle? | Metromile
Source: Caranddriver.com

What is a car axle? 

If you’re wondering what is an axle, it’s a steel rod that connects to a pair of wheels and uses torque from the transmission to get the wheels moving. Torque is a fancy word for rotational force. The car axle acts as a bridge between the tires and takes the power from the transmission to propel the wheels forward so the car can move. Because cars are designed to move, axles are the secret superhero that keeps your vehicle on the go.  

How many axles does a car have? 

If you’re wondering how many axles does a car have, it can depend on the type of vehicle you have. At a minimum, cars typically have two axles that work with the front pair of wheels and the back pair of wheels. If a vehicle is larger than a passenger car, there may be more axles. 

There’s an easy way to identify how many axles a car has though. According to VehicleAnswers.com, “As a general rule of thumb, cars and trucks have 1 axle for every pair of wheels. These are referred to as “2-axle” vehicles, which encompasses most vehicles you’ll see on the road.”

Different types of car axles 

There are different types of car axles that serve different purposes. According to VehicleFreak.com, “Car axles can be categorized by their position into the front and rear axles, but also by their function. The primary job of an axle is to endure the weight of the vehicle and transfer it to wheels. A horse-drawn or modern trailer can have one or more dead axles, which do not rotate with the wheels. Live axles rotate to transfer power to the wheels.”

So basically, there are: 

  • Live axles, which help keep the wheels moving
  • Dead axles, which support the total weight of the car but don’t move the wheels 

Live and dead axles are based on function. The axles based on position are:

  • The front axle, which is located in the front, can be either live or dead. A live front axle can help move the wheels and support steering while managing shocks from any rough terrain.
  • The rear axle is located in the rear of the car as the name suggests and is typically live, helping move the wheels forward. There are three different types of rear axles as well, including the semi-floating axle, full floating axle, as well as three-quarter floating axle. These rear axles serve different purposes and are typically part or larger vehicles. 
  • The stub axle can typically be found in cars with rear-wheel drive and is connected to the front axle with kingpins. The kingpins connect both the sub axle and front axle.

According to car manufacturer Kia, the stub axle has various types including: 

· Elliot: This type is attached to the front axle by using a yoke, kingpin, and cotter.

· Reverse Elliot: This stub axle has the reversed arrangement of an Elliot stub axle.

· Lamoine: In a Lamoine stub axle, an L-shaped spindle and kingpin are used instead of a yoke.

· Lamoine Reverse: It has the reversed arrangement of a Lamoine stub axle.

As you can see, the answer to “How many axles does a car have?” isn’t so simple and can vary by vehicle. 

How do you know if you have a bad axle? 

Your car axle is an integral car part to keep your car moving. If your car axle is bad, it could spell trouble for you later on. But how do you know if you have a bad axle?

According to Sun Devil Auto, some telltale signs that you have a bad axle include:

If you’re dealing with any of these situations, you may have a bad axle and want to get it looked at by a professional. 

Does car insurance cover damaged axles? 

If you’re dealing with a damaged or faulty car axle, you might wonder if car insurance will help cover the cost of the repair. Typically, car repairs and maintenance are your responsibility. However, if a car axle is damaged and it is directly due to a car accident, it may be covered if you have collision or comprehensive coverage

The bottom line 

Your car axle literally keeps your car on the go. It’s important to be aware of the signs of a bad axle and get any necessary repairs to make sure you stay safe and keep your car in good condition. As part of your overall car maintenance, you want to consider your car insurance as well. 

You may be paying more than you really need to for your current insurance. Why pay a flat premium, when you can pay based on the miles you drive? You pay for gas by the gallon, so why not pay for car insurance based on the miles you drive plus a low base rate? Using Metromile you can do just that. Grab a free quote to see how much you could save. 

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.