You don't need us to tell you that operating a truck with a damaged axle is risky. Responsible for transferring power from your differentials to your wheels; if the axle is warped or cracked, you’ll be on a bumpy ride. Not only will your truck suffer from poor performance, but you could also be looking at more severe consequences like outright accidents if you let the damage sit for too long.
However, while on many occasions, the signs of a damaged axle may be obvious, other times, the symptoms can be much more subtle and blend into the background. This can be especially true if you’re driving an older rig already suffering its share of issues. That’s why we’re here with five indicators to help you detect when your truck might be in need of some axle repair and maintenance.
1. Your Tires Aren’t Rotating
If your tires are making contact with the road but failing to move even when you step on the gas, this can be a sign of severely damaged axles. If you tend to constantly accelerate and brake, especially if you’re hauling heavy loads, this can cause the axle to warp or outright snap.
2. Your Rig Has Difficulty Accelerating
Suppose your wheels are turning effectively, but you’re having difficulty getting properly up to speed. In that case, this can also be a sign of damaged axles and, subsequently, a need for axle repair and maintenance.
While you can still drive on your truck’s damaged axles (provided it’s not too far gone to be completely inoperable), it’s not advisable. It is dangerous for both you and the drivers around you, and the axle can snap if placed under enough strain and continually operated without addressing the outstanding issues.
3. Frequent and Audible Clattering or Clunking
Unusual noises can potentially be another sign of damaged axles. While unusual noises can be a sign of a wide variety of problems, if there’s clattering or clunking audible while driving and it’s coming from underneath the vehicle, it can be a definite sign of a cracked or stressed axle.
Additionally, broken axles often make loud sounds like clicking when changing gears (due to the axles' role of transmitting power between the differentials and the wheels) or when you’re making a turn. The axle is likely damaged if the noise is consistent and very audible.
4. Your Rig is Suffering From Poor Handling
One of the most common signs your truck needs axle maintenance is if your rig suffers from poor handling while you’re out on the road, like constant swaying or heavy vibrations. In the case of heavy swaying, this can have several knock-on effects. Your rig can shake even more than it already does, and the wheels may wobble (this can be exacerbated if the wheels aren’t inflated or aligned correctly) or the lug nuts are loose.
Driving while experiencing vibrations can cause knock-on effects, such as uneven tire wear or braking difficulties. Additionally, if your truck starts to experience vibration immediately after running over an obstruction like a pothole, this is a likely sign that your axle was damaged and requires repairs and maintenance as soon as possible.
If you’re dealing with poor handling with your rig, call your local diesel repair shop like MCL Mobile Fleet Services, to schedule a round of repair and maintenance as soon as possible.
5. Your Brakes Aren’t Engaging Properly
Finally, if your axle is damaged, your brake assembly won’t be properly aligned; the pads and brake shoes will have trouble properly engaging whenever you step on the brake pedal. If you skid or slide to a halt, this is a good sign the mechanical part of your brake system isn’t effectively engaging. With enough time, you can lose the ability to stop your truck outright and be at risk for accidents.
Keep On Top of Axle Maintenance and Repair
If you’re dealing with or experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good time to schedule a round of inspection and maintenance for your rig’s axles with your local repair shop. Keeping on top of your axles’ conditions before and after your truck needs work is a good way to get the most out of your rig. Not only will it have a long life, but you’ll save plenty of money in the long run.