The car axle is not as popular as shock absorbers or brake discs, probably because it is designed to last for many years before needing replacement. The lack of knowledge about this important component makes it easy for unscrupulous people to deceive the public looking for used car axles for sale, offering them parts with excessive wear or problems not apparent to the untrained eye.
This situation has motivated the My Auto Store team to prepare this article, where we will first study the basics such as what is a car axle, what are the types of car axles, and how to know when your car axle assembly is damaged, and then explore how to choose and buy a used axle assembly without getting scammed.
What Is an Axle?
An axle is a shaft that rotates and transmits the torque produced by the engine to the wheels. Given its critical function, any malfunction with the axle or any of the supporting components that assist it in its operation can cause serious inconvenience to the vehicle. The group comprising the axle and related components is commonly referred to as the axle assembly. Although the car axle operation principle is quite simple, there are several types of axle assemblies that we will discuss in the following section.
Types of Car Axles
In order to deliver the engine torque to the wheels as efficiently as possible, car manufacturers use different types of car axles or rather car axle assemblies.
- Rear Axle assembly. This type of axle assembly is used in rear-wheel drive vehicles and consists of two axles, each connected to a rear wheel. In this type of car axle, the engine’s power and torque go first to a component known as a differential, which in turn splits that torque to each axle.
- Front Axle assembly. As you can probably guess, this is the type of axle assembly used in front-wheel drive vehicles. It is more complex in both number of components and construction than the rear axle assembly because it not only delivers torque to the wheels but also assists steering and is an integral part of the vehicle’s suspension system. In general, front axle assemblies consist of beams, swivel pins, track rods, and stub axles, being the latter the component that is directly connected to the wheels.
How to Know When Your Axle is Bad
There is no point in buying a car axle if your vehicle does not require one. So before you even think about googling used car axles for sale, it’s a good idea to review the most common symptoms that occur when your axle assembly is deficient or bad.
- Vibrations. It’s easy to confuse vibrations in the steering wheel and/or the car with those related to problems with bent wheels, tire balancing, brake discs, etc. Vibrations caused by a defective axle shaft are usually continuous, i.e., they are present regardless of how fast you are driving or whether you are braking or not.
- Strange sounds. Usually, when you hear a loud, thumping sound when you put your car in gear, it is because your axle or one of its components is defective.
- Bad axle. Finally, if you put your vehicle in gear, but it does not move even when the engine is running, then it is likely that your axle is damaged.
How to Choose the Right Axle Ratio
At this point, you already have a basic understanding of what the axle is for, axle assembly types, and how to perform a basic diagnosis to determine if your axle is bad or faulty. You are almost ready to begin your search for a new or used axle assembly. What you need to know now is the basic information about your vehicle. To that end, the My Auto Store team has prepared a checklist that will help you have all the relevant information at hand.
- Year, manufacturer, model, and trim of your vehicle.
- Engine type of your vehicle (petrol, diesel, turbo, etc.).
- Body type (sedan, coupe, SUV, crossover, light truck).
- Drivetrain (front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive).
You can find most of this information in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. However, a simple alternative to find out all this data is to use a free VIN decoder. To do this, you must locate the VIN number, which is a 16-digit code that is usually visible from the outside of the car on the bottom of the driver’s side windshield, near the side pillar.
Note that axle assemblies with different axle ratios may exist for the same vehicle. In simple terms, the axle ratio determines the number of rotations the driveshaft must make to produce one axle rotation. In other words, the axle ratio is a fixed mechanical ratio. For this reason, we do not recommend changing the axle ratio of your vehicle as this could increase fuel consumption, affect gearbox performance, and cause all sorts of unwanted problems.
Where to Buy Used Axles For Sale Online
Firstly it is necessary to explain why we recommend buying used car axles online and not from a local salvage yard or repair shop.
- Inspection. Thinking of buying a used front axle assembly or a used rear axle assembly without inspecting it thoroughly is not a good idea, as you can easily be ripped off. This implies that you should know how to inspect the pinion & gear, stub axle, and other components for deformations, leaks, chipped teeth, etc. Another option would be to hire a mechanic to check the used axle assembly for you, but the additional cost would not make it an optimal solution.
- Shipping and handling. Car axle assemblies are heavy parts, so you may need to pay an additional shipping and handling fee to get the car axle assembly where your car is located. This again would be an additional cost unless the scrapyard has free shipping.
- Convenience. Last but not least is the aspect of convenience. Wouldn’t it be better to be able to buy the used car axle online from the comfort of your own home?
Having established that the most convenient way to buy used car axles is online, only one question remains, is it safe to do so? Is it as easy as searching for used car axles for sale and clicking on the first result we see? Well, obviously not. As with all online shopping, when searching for used car axles for sale you should check a few basics:
- Who are you buying from? When buying online, trust always comes first. For this reason, we suggest avoiding buying used parts on eBay from individuals. The best (and safest) thing to do is to look for established companies, with a good reputation and that is properly accredited by national associations. This definitely decreases the possibility of being cheated during the process.
- What warranty is the seller offering? Just as important as the seller’s reputation is the warranty they offer. Our suggestion is to avoid 30-90 day warranties and instead prefer companies that offer an extended warranty of at least 6 months.
At My Auto Store, each of the parts we offer to the public goes through a rigorous 4-step quality control process. This allows us to provide a 6-month warranty on all of our parts as well as an outstanding after-sales service. Our extensive inventory features hundreds of car axles at unbeatable prices. In case you have problems finding the right car axle assembly for your car (or any other part you need) do not hesitate to contact us, the specialists at My Auto Store will be happy to help you through the whole process.