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Summary
  • Continuing to drive on a bad axle can lead to accidents on the road, and we don’t recommend it.
  • A bad axle that’s about to break will emit a rumbling sound and can even cause the vehicle to vibrate when you speed up. A loud banging or clicking sound while shifting gears might indicate a broken front axle.
  • If you notice signs of a broken axle, it’s best to pull over as soon as possible. If either axle is broken, the wheels will stop turning altogether.

A broken car axle is no small matter. If the axle breaks, you usually won’t be able to even drive the vehicle at all, so driving with a broken axle is a no-go situation.

Note, however, that front-wheel-drive vehicles have front driving axles. Four-wheel-drive vehicles have four driving axles, and a front axle that is broken won’t prevent the vehicle from being driven unless it’s somehow fouled and causes that wheel not to turn freely or has damaged steering components.

Four-wheel-drive vehicles have four driving axles, and a front axle that is broken won’t prevent the vehicle from being driven unless it’s somehow fouled and causes that wheel not to turn freely or has damaged steering components.

Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

But if you ever find that your rear or front axle broke while on the road, stop driving immediately. 

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Both axles are important parts of your vehicle. Typically, there’s one live and one dead axle. The live axle connects to and propels the wheels while the dead axle helps hold the weight of the wheels but doesn’t turn with them.

That being said, on modern two-wheel-drive vehicles, there will typically be one CV axle driving each wheel with the differential assembly driving the axles. The rolling wheels that don’t propel (the “dead” end) are typically not connected to any axle, but are mounted on wheel hubs that aren’t directly connected to the opposite wheel.

Can You Drive With a Broken Axle?

Although a completely broken axle will stop your tires, a bad axle that’s about to break might still function well enough for you to drive. That being said, continuing to drive on a bad axle can lead to accidents on the road, and we don’t recommend it.

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mechanic checking a car axle
A bad axle that’s about to break will emit a rumbling sound and can even cause the vehicle to vibrate when you speed up.

How Long Can You Drive With a Broken Axle?

If your axle breaks down, you shouldn’t attempt to drive your vehicle at all. A bad axle that’s about to break will emit a rumbling sound and can even cause the vehicle to vibrate when you speed up. A loud banging or clicking sound while shifting gears might indicate a broken front axle specifically. If you notice these signs, it’s best to pull over as soon as possible. If either axle is completely broken, the wheels will stop turning altogether

What Are the Dangers of Driving With a Broken Axle?

A broken axle on your car can affect your brakes and acceleration, meaning you’ll be hard-pressed to control your vehicle on the road. A broken axle can also lead to wobbly steering and the feeling of misaligned tires.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix a Broken Axle?

A replacement axle can cost about $10 to $6,000. Depending on the amount of damage, it can take anywhere from 1.5 to 12 hours to have your broken axle fixed by a licensed mechanic.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Wheels and Tires , DIY Tagged With :
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