Car axle replacement cost

A new axle should range anywhere from $500 to $2,500, depending on your vehicle

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car axle in a repair shop

An axle may seem simple — it helps connect a wheel to the rest of your car and get that wheel spinning. However, they can be more complicated than you might think, and they’re critical to keeping your car on the road.

So, if you’ve heard the telltale “knocking” sound when turning — or your mechanic has already told you it’s time for a new car axle — what can you expect? What will a new axle cost? And how can you lower your bill? (Better yet, can you get a car axle replaced for free?)

Read on to find out.


Key insights

  • On average, it costs around $1,200 to replace an axle, but our sample quotes from real mechanics ranged from $531 on a Ford F-150 to $2,325 on a BMW 740i.
  • The most common type of axle replacement is for a constant velocity (CV) joint on a front-wheel-drive car. (CV axles on front wheels tend to fail much faster because they’re under more stress and take more abuse from the road.)
  • It may be possible to repair your axle for less money, but some mechanics say that it’s best to replace the entire axle in case of hidden damage.
  • You can potentially get your axle replaced for free if your vehicle is under a powertrain warranty. Otherwise, you can sometimes lower the repair bill by calling multiple shops and negotiating for a better price.

How much does it cost to replace an axle?

The average cost to replace a constant velocity (CV) axle is between $1,026 and $1,176, according to RepairPal (a site that compiles repair cost data). However, axle replacement costs can vary a lot.

One reason for that is because different cars have different axle configurations:

  • Front-wheel-drive vehicles typically have two CV axles up front.
  • Rear-wheel-drive vehicles typically have two CV axles in the back, but that’s only if the vehicle has independent suspension.
  • All-wheel-drive vehicles typically have four CV axles — one for each wheel.
  • Some classic cars, trucks and specialty off-road vehicles have what’s known as a solid axle — a simple, straight beam connecting the wheels without a pair of CV axles. Some enthusiasts prefer solid axles over CV axles for their simplicity and durability.

Generally speaking, it’s far cheaper to replace a solid axle than a CV axle due to the solid axle’s simpler design. That’s why our sample quotes below show a gulf in price between an axle replacement for a Ford F-150 — which uses a solid rear axle — and our other two sample vehicles.

Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles also tend to require CV axle replacements much more often than rear-wheel-drive vehicles, but it really comes down to whether your CV axles are positioned in the front (such as in most FWD and AWD vehicles) or in the rear (such as in most RWD vehicles with independent suspension).

We consulted Nick Zeman, shop manager at Fastlane Auto Import Repair in Atlanta, to explain why.

“CV axles on front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles always fail much faster. That’s because any axle in the front of the vehicle is going to be under far more stress by design AND take more abuse from bad road conditions.”

Any axle in the front of the vehicle is going to be under far more stress by design AND take more abuse from bad road conditions. ”
— Nick Zeman, shop manager at Fastlane Auto Import Repair in Atlanta

High-end luxury and performance vehicles, like Audis, BMWs and Porsches, also tend to have highly sophisticated suspension setups. CV axles are an integral part of your suspension, so if you drive one of those vehicles, you can expect to pay more than average for a replacement.

To give you a better idea of what a car axle replacement might cost on your vehicle, we called five mechanics nationwide to get axle replacement quotes for three sample vehicles: a Honda Civic with CV axles upfront, a Ford F-150 with a solid axle in back and a BMW with a pair of performance CV axles in the rear.

Can you fix an axle without replacing it?

It’s possible to repair an axle — solid or CV — without having to replace it, and it’s usually cheaper, too. However, repair isn’t always an option, and people sometimes disagree about how viable repairs are.

For example, many shops and do-it-yourself enthusiasts will replace the CV boot alone, which is the rubber housing protecting the metal components of the axle from road debris. (RepairPal estimates that the average CV boot replacement costs between $325 and $372.) Others say that if the CV boot has failed, then it’s already too late — there may be unseen damage to the CV axle itself, so it’s best to go ahead and replace the entire axle and boot assembly.

Whether or not your axle can be repaired depends on what’s wrong with it and your mechanic’s opinion.

When we interviewed Jay Jindal, owner and lead mechanic at Jindal-Andre Automotive Services in Washington, D.C., he 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.”

But Zeman, the shop manager from Atlanta, told us that the rising complexity of modern cars has made axle repairs increasingly less viable overall, “You used to be able to get away with doing an axle rebuild by replacing boots and other things, but that doesn’t really work on the newer stuff.”

The bottom line is that whether or not you can avoid replacing your axle comes down to who’s doing the work and the extent of your axle problems. If you’re looking to spend less than replacement costs, it may be worth going a different route.

» MORE: Car axle repair cost

How to keep axle replacement costs low

Here are some of the ways you can lower the cost of an axle replacement or possibly not pay anything at all.

1. See if your vehicle is under warranty

Virtually all powertrain warranties, whether from the manufacturer or an extended warranty company, include coverage for your drive axle(s).

“If you bring it in while it’s still clicking or the boot is torn, we’ll cover the cost of a repair or replacement,” a representative with Endurance told us. “As long as the axle hasn’t totally failed, we’ll cover it.”

An Endurance reviewer from South Carolina corroborated that, telling us, “ I had a claim on my rear axle and they fixed that for me. … They're worth the money.”

That said, some warranty providers may deny your claim on the basis that a CV axle failing after 50,000 miles is normal wear and tear. But it’s probably worth a phone call to find out since you could save $1,000+.

» SEE IF YOU’RE COVERED: Car warranty check by VIN

2. Call around for multiple quotes

In our experience, going to the dealership is often the most expensive option. Consider calling around to at least three of the highest-rated third-party mechanics in your area to see who can offer you the lowest price on an axle replacement.

3. Budget for towing

Keep in mind that it’s not safe to drive a vehicle with a failing axle, so you’ll want to consider the cost of towing your vehicle to your chosen mechanic. If the shop with the best price is too far away, you can always try calling a closer shop and asking them to match your best offer.

4. Try negotiating

Most auto repairs are negotiable. Sometimes, simply asking, “Can you get me out the door for [80% of initial quote]?” can result in instant savings.

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FAQ

Can you still drive with a broken axle?

No. Driving on a damaged drive axle could lead to the axle failing, decoupling the wheel from your transmission. A sudden loss of power in one or both wheels could result in a serious accident.

How long does an axle replacement take?

Replacing a CV axle typically takes one to three hours, according to FIXD.

How often do axles need to be replaced?

CV axles can typically last between 70,000 miles and 130,000 miles but should be inspected regularly, according to FIXD.


Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. Houston Rebuilt Axles, “Types of Axles and What They Do.” Accessed Feb. 2, 2024.
  2. RepairPal, “CV Axle Replacement Cost.” Accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  3. Capital One, “What is a Solid Axle?” Accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  4. RepairPal, “CV Boot Replacement Cost.” Accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  5. Cars.com, “When Do You Need to Replace Drive-Axle Boots?” Accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  6. FIXD, “How Much Does Replacing a CV Axle Cost? – 2023 Pricing Guide.” Accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
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