Car axle repair cost
The most common axle repairs in our sample cars ranged from $287 to $1,254
Axle repairs can range from relatively affordable to downright expensive, depending on your vehicle and the extent of the problem.
We surveyed five mechanics from around the country to get real-world estimates of how much you can expect to spend repairing or replacing your axles, and average costs ranged from $287 for axle shaft seal repair to $2,325 for an axle replacement.
Keep reading to learn more about how axles work, the signs of a faulty axle and how much you can expect to spend fixing an axle.
- Repairing an axle is possible if the damage isn’t too severe; otherwise, full replacement may be necessary.
- Axle repair costs vary significantly depending on the issue that needs fixing; replacement costs vary by the make and model of your vehicle.
- Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles generally have higher axle repair costs.
- Non-drive axles cost less to repair than drive axles.
- Warranty coverage can help you pay for axle service, so check if you’re covered by a warranty before you pay up.
What is an axle?
Axles support your vehicle’s wheels and (potentially) house components that propel your car down the road, depending on the configuration of your car’s drivetrain. Here are some common drivetrain and axle configurations:
- Front-wheel drive: Engine power flows to the front wheels via two axles (known as half shafts) hooked to constant velocity (CV) joints. Meanwhile, the rear wheels are suspended independently.
- Rear-wheel drive: Engine power flows to the rear wheels via a drive shaft and a rear differential that splits power between the left and right sides. Vehicles like trucks may utilize a front axle (also known as a dead axle) in this configuration, but many other rear-wheel-drive cars do not have a front axle and instead have an independent front suspension.
- All-wheel drive/four-wheel drive: Engine power flows to all wheels but in different ways. All-wheel-drive systems keep all four wheels spinning at the same time. Power is sent from the engine to a series of differentials and onto axles that move power to each wheel independently. Four-wheel-drive systems make power available on demand and utilize a similar set of powered axles.
You probably don’t need to fully understand how your drivetrain and axles work, but it can help if you know what configuration your car has so that you can compare your mechanic’s estimate against the right examples. (Comparing a repair estimate for a simple, non-driven axle to an estimate for a more complicated, driven axle is neither fair nor accurate.)
Symptoms of a bad axle
There are a few things that you may notice if your axle fails, but most of these issues occur when the seal or the protective covering (known as a boot) fails and allows debris to get into the axle.
- Clicking or popping while turning: This symptom is especially common on front-wheel-drive vehicles. If you hear a distinct clicking sound when turning and accelerating, your half shaft or front-wheel drive shaft is failing. If you let this continue without repair, the joint or axle can catastrophically fail and leave you in a bad situation.
- Grease on the inside of wheels: If you find a bunch of grease on the inside of your car's wheels, you can bet the axle is failing. This happens when the axle seal fails, letting the grease that should be in the axle leak to the outside.
- Vibrations or shudders: Since many things can cause a vibration, it may be difficult to know if it's the axle or another component that’s making itself known through vibrations. So, if you feel an unusual vibration, you may want to check and see if any other symptoms can help you narrow down the cause.
- Resistance or complete stoppage: Once an axle goes bad, it often starts to resist the car moving forward. You may hit the gas and feel like there’s a weight on the car, or your car may slow down quickly when you let off the gas. If you feel this, you need to fix it ASAP because your car could quit and leave you in a dangerous situation.
How much does it cost to repair an axle?
If you’re having axle problems, you probably won’t need to replace the entire assembly. Instead, you can likely have the issue repaired.
Jay Jindal, owner and lead mechanic at Jindal-Andre Automotive Services in Washington, D.C., explained to us that repairing an axle is often all that’s needed: “We rarely replace the entire axle assembly and instead try to fix what’s wrong. Axles are durable, and they are made to be taken apart, cleaned and repaired.”
However, different axles have different repair costs associated with them because they have different levels of complexity. “Front-wheel-drive cars are great for many things, but their CV axles and joints are expensive to repair. We do at least a few a week here at the shop,” said Jindal.
Because common repairs can vary depending on the type of axle you have, it can be hard to compare repair costs. We’ve included the most common axle repairs for our sample vehicles in the table below, along with average repair costs according to the mechanics we surveyed.
|Vehicle||Repair||Average parts cost||Average labor cost||Average total cost|
|2017 Honda Civic||CV joint replacement||$953 (76% of total cost)||$301 (24% of total cost)||$1,254|
|2017 Ford F-150||Axle shaft seal||$13 (4.53%)||$274 (95.47%)||$287|
|2019 BMW 740i||Axle seal||$112 (18.76%)||$485 (81.24%)||$597|
How much does it cost to replace an axle?
Replacing CV axles on front-wheel-drive vehicles (and some all-wheel-drive vehicles) is much more common than replacing drive axles on rear-wheel-drive vehicles. CV axles are under quite a bit of stress, making them a common failure point. Their complicated design also makes them an expensive replacement.
Simple axles, like those found on the Ford F-150, are much cheaper to replace if they do happen to break irreparably. On the other hand, more expensive axles, like those found on the BMW 740i, can multiply your replacement costs.
Labor costs were relatively stable across our sample vehicles, making up a relatively small portion of each axle replacement cost estimate we received.
|Vehicle||Parts cost||Labor cost||Total cost|
|2017 Honda Civic||$951 (72.76% of total cost)||$356 (27.24% of total cost)||$1,307|
|2017 Ford F-150||$325 (61.21%)||$206 (38.79%)||$531|
|2019 BMW 740i||$1,895 (81.51%)||$430 (18.49%)||$2,325|
What if you have a warranty?
If your vehicle is still covered under your manufacturer's powertrain warranty, a broken axle may be covered. However, most axles do not fail on their own unless they are damaged during use (at least within the warranty period). This usually happens when drivers hit large potholes or other road debris, but that can mean they’re not eligible for warranty coverage.
If you break your axle in an accident, you may want to contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers the damage instead.
Depending on the vehicle, repairing or replacing an axle can be an expensive task, but extended warranty programs may help offset the cost of a broken axle or other expensive repairs.
Linda, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from New Hampshire, told us their extended warranty helped cover the cost of a problem axle: “Have been a customer for just over two months. Saved me over $600 on the repair of the axle on my 15-year-old vehicle.”
If you do purchase an extended warranty to protect yourself from an axle repair bill, make sure you opt for coverage that covers wear-and-tear items. If you don’t get this coverage, your axles usually won’t be covered, and you may be out the cost of an extended warranty with little to show for it.
Frequently asked questions
How many axles does a car have?
It depends on the configuration of the car — some have two, while others have one. For example, a front-wheel-drive car has two axles (known as half shafts) at the front, but the rear wheels are independent and have no common axle.
What is a drive axle?
Simply put, drive axles are axles that receive power from the engine and help spin a car’s wheels.
What is a half shaft?
Since front-wheel-drive cars have their engines and driven wheels up front, engineers created the constant velocity (CV) joint and half shaft to get power to the ground from the transaxle. This combination allows the front wheels to steer and power the car at the same time.
Half shafts are like mini-axles that send power to the front wheels from the transaxle.
What causes a broken axle?
A lot of things can cause a broken axle, but some of the most common causes depend on what type of drivetrain your car has:
- Front-wheel-drive vehicles have a rubber covering over the CV joint known as a CV boot. If the boot tears, debris from the road gets into the joint and damages both the CV joint and the half shaft.
- On rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicles, the same principle applies, but it’s usually the axle seals that fail and begin to leak fluid.
In addition to these mechanical failures, axles can also break from hitting potholes or larger accidents.
Do extended car warranties cover axles?
Extended warranties can cover axles, but they don’t always. Extended warranties generally cover axles if the part fails on its own or if you have specific coverage that allows for wear-and-tear items. However, if the axle fails due to negligence, poor maintenance or an accident, almost no warranty will cover you.
Something going wrong with your axle isn’t the worst automotive issue you can have, but the cost can still add up, especially if you need a full axle replacement. If you get hit with a large bill, check your warranty and insurance coverage to see if you can get any help paying for it, and consider getting a second opinion from another shop to make sure the price is fair. You might also consider getting an extended warranty to help you avoid any other expensive surprises down the road.
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