What is an Axle?

About axlesAn axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. It is an important part of a vehicle. Without it, wheels will not move. Moreover, it is as important as good brakes or tires. The axle is the bar that connects the wheels and makes tires go together. In the latter case, a bearing or bushing sits inside a central hole in the wheel to allow the wheel or gear to rotate around the axle. Also, it holds the weight of the vehicle or load. A big number of axles is used to move heavy haul.

The axles serve only to transmit driving torque to the wheels; the position and angle of the wheel hubs is an independent function of the suspension system.

A tandem axle is a group of two or more axles situated close together. Especially, truck designs use such a configuration to provide a greater weight capacity than a single axle. Tandem axles at the rear are mainly used on semi-trailers. Also, the straight axle can be used on trucks. It is a single rigid shaft connecting a wheel on the left side of the vehicle to a wheel on the right side.  Such design keeps the wheel positions steady, so it can carry heavy loads. There are also split-axle designs, where the wheel on each side is attached to a separate shaft. Modern passenger cars have split drive axles.

Axle Specifications

Axles are typically made from SAE grade 41xx steel or SAE grade 10xx steel. SAE grade 41xx steel is commonly known as “chrome-molybdenum steel” while SAE grade 10xx steel is known as “carbon steel”. The primary differences between the two are that chrome-moly steel is significantly more resistant to bending or breaking.

Trailers may have 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13 and more axles. Straight axles are used for commercial trucks, and on heavy duty off-road vehicles. The axle can optionally be protected and further reinforced by enclosing the length of the axle in a housing.

A broken axle is often a result of overloading a vehicle, a bad carrier bearing, or even just an unfortunate pothole experience. It is impossible to move the car with a broken axle. If you hear rumbling or feel vibrating when you accelerate or turn your car, this is a sign of an axle going to be broken.

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