How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Axle in a Car? (2023 Update)
A busted axle will put a damper on any driving plans, and it can be a worrying prospect when you wait on the repair bill. It can cost $100–$1,000 to replace an axle, depending on the number and type of axles and whether you hire a professional or replace it yourself.
The Importance of Replacing a Car Axle
A damaged car axle is an enormous issue, and a break could be an extreme safety hazard if the car moves at all. As soon as you notice signs of an axle issue, such as heavy vibrations or clicking noises, it’s critical to take it in for a repair. If the axle breaks, it can cause the wheel to fly off or damage the suspension and other parts as it spins out of control. When you’re driving at high speeds, a broken axle can make your car pull suddenly to one side and cause an accident.
How Much Does Replacing a Car Axle Cost?
An axle replacement generally costs between $450–$750 if done by a professional. The cost will vary depending on who installs it, the make and model of your vehicle, and the kinds of parts you are replacing. Popular brands like Toyota or Hondas generally have less expensive components than luxury brands. And if you don’t want to DIY it, professional labor costs can range from $150 to $200.
CV Axle Costs
Front wheels connect to CV (constant velocity) axles in a front-wheel-drive car. These axles independently drive each wheel, allowing them to turn and maintain speeds. Universal joints sit at the ends of the axle, where gears sit in a socket with ball bearings so it can rotate as the differential supplies power. A thick, flexible rubber boot sits around the joints to protect the greased socket and bearings.
When an axle wears out or gets damaged, it’s generally felt on one side as it only affects one CV axle. These axles can cost as low as $50, while others cost over $500. Inexpensive universal CV axles are usually a poor choice as they may not fit your vehicle like an OEM part, so you’ll often spend at least $150–$250 for a quality axle.
A common precursor to a worn CV axle is a torn boot. When this ruptures, it lets in dirt and debris that facilitates wear on the joint. If caught early, you can replace the boot for around $30 and prevent a costlier repair down the line.
Rear Axle Costs
Rear-axle replacements will often cost the same as front axles. Since rear-wheel-drive cars have a differential that sits in the center of the axle, it’s possible to damage the whole rear assembly in one impact. A rear axle shaft costs around $100–$300, while a complete assembly with a differential can run over $3,000.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Severe damage to an axle can cause issues down the line with the wheel, differential, transmission, or more. If a broken CV axle blows out a transaxle (a combination transmission and differential), it can add a few thousand dollars to the repair costs. It’s crucial to repair a bent or damaged axle as soon as possible to prevent more expensive fixes.
After getting an axle replacement, you may also need an alignment. The service costs about $50–$100 and will ensure the vehicle drives smoothly and limits wear on the tires.
How Long Does an Axle Last?
Front axles are constantly flexing and moving and supporting the vehicle’s weight, so they will eventually wear down. A CV axle will last about 80,000–100,000 miles under typical use.
Minor damage, particularly to the rubber boot around the joints, and driving over rough terrain can cause the axle to wear faster, so you must pay attention to the signs of a failing part. Fortunately, unlike tires, it isn’t necessary to replace both axles when one goes bad.
Does Insurance Cover a Broken Axle?
Collision insurance will cover the costs for a broken axle under many circumstances. An axle may suffer damage in an accident or after hitting a pothole, which is covered under most insurance policies. You’ll still need to reach your deductible, but the insurer will cover any further costs.
Old age and misuse can cause damage, and they are generally not covered under insurance. If the axle breaks from normal wear and tear or damage from excessive weight in the vehicle, insurance won’t pay for it.
Signs That You Need to Replace Your Axle
A grease leak from the rubber boot around the CV axle joints clearly indicates that the axle needs a replacement. Using a flashlight, you can look for grease buildup on the inside of your wheels.
Once the rubber seal breaks, dirt can get into the joint, dry it out, and cause wear and tear. Performance-wise, you’ll often notice a clicking sound that follows the vehicle’s speed, especially while accelerating through a turn. The axle may knock if it is damaged.
Along with the telltale noise, you may notice your car vibrating on the side with the damaged axle, with it worsening as you accelerate. The vehicle will often struggle to move, and you’ll feel it clunk and sputter as it strains to send power to the wheels.
Although you’ll likely notice a warning sign before it happens, an immobile vehicle is another sign of a broken axle. If the car turns on fine but won’t move, there’s likely a significant break at the universal joint, and no power can transfer to the wheels.
A damaged axle is a dangerous part to drive on, and the fix will only get more expensive the more you put it off. For an experienced DIYer, an axle replacement can cost under $200. If you have to pay for a professional, it can cost about $500 to fix it, but it’s much cheaper than waiting until you have a disabled vehicle.
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