A rear axle assembly is a very large and heavy piece of steel and iron that is used to propel the vehicle by converting rotational force into linear motion. The drive shaft sends rotational power from the engine and transmission to the rear axle assembly differential. That assembly uses a ring and pinion gear set to convert the rotational power to linear motion, by turning the axles, tires and wheels. The differential component of the rear axle assembly can be a separate and removable component from the axle housing, or it can be a permanently attached component of the rear axle with a removable cover to allow access to the gear set.
Following are the three different types of axles
- Axle : The drive axle is a crucial car component that extends out from the differential and into the tire. Typically, drive axles are encased within an axle housing, which offers the part more protection and allows it to operate much more efficiently.
- Shaft (Drive Shaft) : It is common for the term “shaft” to be used interchangeably with “drive shaft,” “CV shaft” and “axle,” as it is a rotating rod within the axle’s housing responsible for transferring movement or torque throughout the assembly it was designed for. In most vehicles, a drive shaft is connected to the transmission on one end and the differential on the other.
- Differential : A differential is a gearing found between each half shaft on the car axle that is connected to the wheel. The wheels on a vehicle traveling on any specific path must all travel at different lengths throughout the entirety of the journey. Since wheels operate in this way, it is necessary for each wheel to have the ability to rotate at a different speed from one another. Differentials allow each wheel to turn at a different speed.
- CV Joint : Universal joints that connect the drive axle are called constant velocity joints. These joints are typically referred to as CV joints.
- Front Drive Axle : A front drive axle relies on the power that is transmitted to it from the transfer case via the drive shaft to steer the wheels of a vehicle. Certain vehicles that utilize a front drive axle may have the differential housing set off center in the axle housing to allow the drive shaft to pass beside the engine oil pan and maintain adequate road clearance without excessive height at the front of the vehicle.
- Rear Drive Axle : Rear drive axles are responsible for connecting the differential side gears to the drive wheels. Depending on the vehicle and the drive axle it utilizes, the rear drive axle may or may not be used to support the vehicle’s weight. Typically, they are manufactured with harder materials than other drive axle components, as this allows an increase in strength. Rear drive axles can be categorized into three types – semi-floating, full-floating, and three-quarter floating.
- Two, Four And All-Wheel Drive Axle : It is common to mistake a four-wheel drive (4WD) axle configuration with an all-wheel drive (AWD) axle, as both configurations transfer power to the four wheels of a vehicle. Two-wheel drive (2WD) axle configurations, which can consist of either a front wheel drive (FWD) or rear wheel drive (RWD) axle setup, are more common in passenger vehicles. FWD is more common than RWD in passenger vehicles.
- Drive Axle Boots : A drive axle boot is a rubber cover that protects the drive axle joint. They can be referred to as a CV boot as well. They are responsible for holding the grease CV joints require inside. Drive axle boots should be serviced routinely, as the rubber boots wear out over time. If a vehicle with a faulty drive axle boot is continuously operated, the CV joint on the CV axle could become severely damaged.
- Drive Axle Service : When an axle bearing begins to create a loud and unusual sound, it is typically a sign that the rear axle requires servicing. Whether the axle is about to break or has completely broken, the rear axles must be removed from the vehicle to repair and replace the differential assembly.
- The Cost of Axle Repair : As repairing and replacing an axle assembly on a vehicle can be challenging, it is advisable for drivers to allow a certified mechanic to perform the service. The cost of axle repair service will vary depending on the severity of the issue as well as the vehicle’s axle configuration.
Maintaining a Drive Axle : In addition to paying attention to the sounds a drive axle makes, as well as any fluid that may leak out of it, drivers must be aware of their vehicle’s weight limit. Overloading a vehicle will result damaging the drive axle.
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