When you see a vehicle moving forward, your mind should immediately go to the axles. However, not everyone is interested in the mechanical working of the vehicle.

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While it may seem like a simple question to many readers, this is a crucial but often overlooked factor in a vehicle.

It’s important to know about the different parts of your car or truck so that you can effectively choose your dream car that best suits your needs.

So how many axles does a car have?

Most cars have two axles. As a general rule of thumb, cars and trucks have 1 axle for every pair of wheels. These are referred to as “2-axle” vehicles, which encompasses most vehicles you’ll see on the road. Motorcycles also have two axles.

Again, it’s important to understand what your axle is and how it functions so you’re prepared in case something ever goes wrong with it.

Your axles are absolutely crucial to the safe operation of your vehicle, so let’s dive right into the details.

What Is an Axle & What Does It Do?

An axle is a steel central shaft that aids in the rotation of a vehicle’s wheels.

When the wheels are revolving smoothly, that means that the axle is operating optimally.

Although they may vary in number depending on the vehicle, no vehicle can work without axles.


There are bearings, whose work is to support the axle and reside in the middle of the wheels.

The axle’s design and development are what keep the wheels aligned.

A properly aligned vehicle will be able to support the huge weight of the vehicle during braking or accelerating.

The work of the axle exceeds just connecting wheels. It controls the power that moves the vehicle, making the axle one of the most vital components of a car.

The power generated from the car engine moves through the axles and into the vehicles.

Since it’s glued to the wheels, it can turn as the car wheel turns.

At one point or the other, you may have wondered how many axles a car has. Read on to know more about axles and how many they are in a car.

What Is Considered a 2-Axle Vehicle?

In simple terms, when a car is referred to as a 2-axle vehicle, it has 2 axles.

Each of these axles either supports one wheel or two wheels.

Examples of 2-axle vehicles are:

MotorcyclesBicyclesTricyclesClass 8 trucks

Therefore, a 3-axle vehicle will have 3 axles and a 4-axle vehicle is a car with 4 axles, and so on.

The more the axles, the better the vehicle will be able to support the vehicles’ weight and that of any cargo in it.

Does a Car Have 2 or 4 Axles?


As a rule of thumb, there is one axle for a pair of tires.

Therefore, if you ask how many axles does a 4-wheel drive vehicle have? The answer would be 2 axles because it has 2 pairs of wheels.

However, there are some vehicles with 3 or more axles because of their size and the number of tires they have.

These axles can either be evenly or unevenly distributed throughout the vehicle.

For example, a car can have one axle at the front and 3 at the rear of the vehicle if that’s where they are needed.

Types of Axles

The type of axle used will depend on the type of car. Other factors that determine the axles in a vehicle are:

The force producedTechnical requirements of a vehicleThe vehicle’s gear mechanisms

Depending on the specifications, a vehicle can come with pre-designed axles or have customized axles.

It’s better for a vehicle to have customized axles fitted to allow them to have better control over the wheels.

They do this by fine-tuning the degree of speed and torque of the wheels.

Car experts state that as long as custom axles are properly maintained, they will control the car’s torque and speed excellently.

Let’s look at the different types of axles in a car:

Front Axle

It’s found at the front of the vehicle and controls the front wheels.

Its work is to assist in steering the vehicle and process any shock from rough roads.

It also carries the weight at the front of the vehicle.

It consists of 4 main parts, the beam, the track rod, the swivel pin, and the stub axle.

Because of its functionality, the front axle is made of nickel steel and carbon steel to make it as sturdy as possible.

There are 2 types of front axles:

The live front axleThe dead front axle

Rear Axle

It’s found in between the differential and controls the vehicle’s rear wheels.

Its work is to move power from the differential to the back wheels which are used during acceleration.

From a design perspective, the rear axle is made up of 2 halves.

The differential connects the two parts and each part is called a half shaft.

This axle may be live which means that it rotates simultaneously with the vehicle’s wheels

There are 3 types of rear axles:

The semi-floating axleThe three-quarter floating axleThe full-floating axle

Stub Axle

It connects the front wheels and the front axles with kingpins.

It is made of alloy steels (molybdenum and chromium) and 3% nickel steel.

There are 4 types of stub axles:

The Elliot.The Lamoine.The Reversed Lamoine.The Reverse Elliot.

How to Know if You Have a Bad Axle

Because the axle’s job is very stressful it is susceptible to wear and tear.

This is despite their manufacturing accounting for the job they do.

There are also a number of situations that could damage your axle.

To know that it’s time to get your axle repaired or replaced, look out for the following signs:

When you are putting your vehicle into gear, you hear a clunking sound.You feel loud vibrations throughout the vehicle when you try to brake or make a turn.There is something off when your vehicle is moving i.e., bending of the vehicle.The wheels aren’t visually not aligned properly. There may also be a crack at the vehicle’s universal joints

If you experience any of these signs with your vehicle, it’s time to visit your trusted mechanic.

They will inspect the vehicle and tell you whether a repair or a part replacement is best.

Rear axles are relatively cheap because they are made of metal, costing as little as $150 for replacement.

Regular checkups will help you avoid major repair costs in the future.

What Causes an Axle to Break?

Even though an axle is designed to withstand heavyweights, there is a limit to its durability.

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Some reasons why your axle may break include:

Your vehicle consistently carries excess weight over the required standardIf your vehicle is old, the axle might be rusty and brittle.Driving your vehicle over rough terrain causes the axle undue stress.