Your vehicle is a sophisticated assembly of systems. Working together, these systems provide the power and motion that takes you from Point A to Point B and beyond. As one of the final systems in this assembly, your axles use engine power to turn your vehicle’s wheels. High-quality axle car parts are critical for long-term dependability and performance. In this guide, you’ll learn more about your vehicle’s axles plus some useful upgrade options.  

The Role of Axles in Different Types of Vehicles

No two axle designs are exactly alike. While this may seem like an obvious statement, there’s more to it on the surface. Consider how front and rear axles differ. For instance, passenger vehicles use one of two types of front axles:

  • Live front axles transmit power from the gearbox to the front wheels. They’re most common in four-wheel, all-wheel, and front-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Dead front axles do not rotate with the wheels. Because they don’t transmit any power to the wheels, they simply stay in place. Dead front axles are common on rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Front-wheel drive vehicles have dead rear axles, while four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles have live front and rear axles. With that said, live rear axles also come in several unique styles:

  • Full-floating axles transmit driving torque only and use two bearings to remain in place. 
  • Semi-floating axles are supported by two bearings: one supporting the axle shaft, and the other positioned inside the casing. This design allows them to convey essential torque. 
  • Three-quarter floating axles include one bearing between the hub and the axle casing. This allows them to maintain proper wheel alignment while also handling side thrust and driving torque. 

Semi-floating and three-quarter floating axles are most common on light-duty trucks, SUVs, and passenger cars. Full-floating axles are typically included on heavy-duty vehicles or mid-size trucks that frequently use four-wheel drive or towing capabilities. 

Axle Upgrades and Performance

Some vehicles, like 2007 through 2014 Ford Edges, include a factory power take-off unit. PTUs convey power from the vehicle’s transmission to its front wheels. A PTU usually mounts on the side of the transmission and links to the front differential. This component is most useful for all-wheel-drive vehicles, giving an extra boost to the front wheels as needed.

While factory PTUs deliver decent performance, they can be prone to failure. Exposure to extreme temperatures may lead to lubricant breakdown. Symptoms such as shuddering, grinding or clunking noises, gas smells, and PTU lubricant leakage signal that a replacement unit may be needed. Dorman’s 600-234XD Power Take-Off Unit replaces the factory version with improved durability and resistance to extreme temperatures. 

Purchasing Your Axle Parts

Where you buy your car replacement parts is just as vital as what you buy. Shopping at a reputable auto components retailer is a wise move. Look for a retailer with a large inventory, rapid shipping, low prices, and expert customer service pros. With these benefits, you can enjoy unmatched flexibility and savings while getting the exact parts you need for any project. 


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