Do You Have a Bent Rear Axle or a Spindle End is Damaged?
A bent axle is a common problem for many vehicles including the Chevy Silverado 3500, Ford F-350 Super Duty and Dodge D3500 dual wheel rear ends. Sometimes, there can be damage you can see but sometimes the damage may not be noticeable from a visual inspection but may have consequences related to operation.
Can a bent axle be straightened?
A bent axle can be straightened. It is a common belief that a bent rear housing means you must buy a new rear end but that is not the case! It really depends on the severity of the damage. In some cases, the cost to repair a severely damaged axle may not be cost effective, however, many axle shops lacking the ability to fix a bent axle, will simply have you replace it. Repairing a bent axle requires specialist skills and equipment not available at most axle repair shops. In fact, repairing a bent axle is only available at a handful of shops accross the country.
HRA has the skills and the tools to repair your axle back to factory specs. We can help arrange the shipping of your bent axle to us for repair. Our specialists will make the repairs and ship it back to your door. It really is as simple as it sounds!
How do you repair a spindle end or bent axle?
The first step in spindle repair is to tear down the axle to a bare housing and put it on our lathe. We will check the tubes to make sure they are straight. If they are bent, we can straighten them. While on the lathe, if the spindle end is damaged, this is when it gets replaced. We manufacture the replacement spindle in-house. These can not be purchased anywhere. Once the spindle end is built, we cut off the damaged spindle and weld on the new replacement.
What else do you check or replace on the axle?
Once the axle has the new spindle, we will verify it is perfectly straight. If the spindle is not on and within specs your truck will burn up tires, break an axle or damage the hub seal. We then install a new hub, bearing set, rotor and seals. The opposite side will have the bearing checked, seal replaced and we also turn the rotor. The center will get or fluff and buff treatment to make sure it is road ready. The final step is filling it with fluid and painting the housing. Your axle is now turn key and thus, ready to install.
A precaution when installing the axle
When reinstalling the axle assembly, make sure the vent tube and vent hose are very clean. Debris inside either of those will cause pressure to build up. This will cause the pinion seal or axle seal to start leaking.
Can I drive with a bent axle?
The best answer is no. However, in reality, it depends on the severity of the damage. For example, if the axle is only slightly bent, you could drive the car to the repair shop to get the axle repaired or replaced. However, driving with an axle that is even slightly bent can result in the feeling of vibration in the vehicle. In addition, an unbalanced rotating axle will eventually damage other components also making the repair a larger and more expansive task.
A mildly bent axle may not be obvious from visual inspection and so, the only symptoms experienced would be a wobble in the wheel. More severely bent axles should be clear from visual inspection due to the severity of the bend. Rotation of the wheels may even generate some grinding noise.
A severely bent axle is unsafe to drive and should not be attempted. A vehicle with a severely bent axle should be towed on a flatbed or suspended wheels to the repair shop. Alternatively, the axle should be removed and sent for repair. Attempting to drive the vehicle would quickly damage many internal components and would make the vehicle a safety hazard.
What causes a bent axle?
Axles can get bent from some surprisingly minor occurrences. Simply hitting a curb can cause a bend in the axles some vehicles whereas minor vehicle collisions are more frequently the cause. Overloading a vehicle or a heavy loads on a vehicle while driving on rough terrain, can also result in a bent axle. If you suspect you may have a bent axle, we recommended that you get the axle inspected for safety and to save yourself possible additional repair costs down the road.
How can I tell if my axle needs repair?
Vibrations – Vibrations may be felt in the car or through the steering wheel as a result of a bent axle. This may be noticeable immediately after hitting a curb or pothole indicating the cause of the damage. When turning, added load to the side of the axle which is bent could amplify the amount of vibration experienced.
Loud Noises – Along with vibrations, bent axles are often accompanied by noises such as clanking, clunking or grinding. The meshing of gears and alignment of joints can be disrupted by a bend in the axle resulting in them making a noise that may be clearly noticeable when the axle is rotating.
Leaking Fluids – A bent axle can result in a split in the axle housing allowing fluids to leak out. Not only does this indicate a damaged axle, but it also means that lubrication within the axle may not be sufficient.
What are the symptoms of a bent axle?
A bent axle will result in a wheel being rotated off-axis at multiple points in a single rotation. As the wheel is not continuously perpendicular to the road surface or the axle, the rapid in and out movement translates vibration to the rest of the vehicle which is increased at higher speeds. Not only will this result in vibration, but you could also get noises from other components such as the brakes as they are being rattled around due to the motion of the bent axle.
Another symptom you can look for is the seeping or leaking of differential fluid where the hub meets the axle housing. This can occur because the bent axle will no longer be flush through the outer wheel bearing and the bent rotating axle will not rotate centrally resulting in damage to the axle seals. Damaged axle seals allow the differential fluid to escape which is clear from a simple visual inspection. An example of this can be seen in the image.
As we all know, tyre misalignment results in premature and uneven wear of the tire. Because a bent axle changes the alignment of a wheel, the tire will wear quickly and unevenly if you continue to drive on it. So, if you suspect a bent axle, the tire wear pattern can be used to help diagnose the problem.
Depending on the severity of the bent axle, there could be some symptomatic consequences within the differential housing. As the axle splines mesh with the drive gears, a bent axle will change the centricity of the axle resulting in inward and outward motion and uneven centrifugal forces on the gears and inner bearings leading to premature failure. As a result, you could have grinding noises which will get louder over time and could result in a larger repair involving the replacement of additional components.
Get a bent axle repair
If you are experiencing your axle bending, our experts are here to help you. At Houston Rebuilt Axles we have shipping options to pick up an axle for repair and send it back to your door fully repaired and warrantied.
Call or email us for a quick price quote today!