Hand on a steering wheel, driving down the beach


I hear a clunking sound from my front wheel when I make a turn. What could be the problem?


One possible cause of the problem is a worn axle. Front-wheel drive vehicles have axles that transfer power from the transmission to your front wheels. There is one for each front wheel. These axles are called constant velocity axles or CV axles for short. Rear-wheel drive vehicles have axles that are in back and run between the differential and the rear wheels. Of course, all-wheel drive vehicles will have an axle at each wheel.

When a front CV axle goes bad, it will make a clunking noise as you make a slow turn. When a rear axle goes bad, the clunking or moaning sound will be in the back. If you have suddenly started experiencing a vibration sensation in one of your vehicle’s wheels this is a sign that one of the axles is broken. A broken axle isn’t able to properly balance the wheel as it rotates which causes the shaft to shake excessively. The vibrations tend to become pronounced the faster the car is driven. A broken axle will eventually stop a vehicle dead in its track. When the axle breaks at the joint it won’t be able to transfer power to the wheels. When you go to step on the gas the wheels won’t move. If the axle begins to fail while driving, do your best to get out of line of traffic if possible and call a tow truck right away.

There really isn't any preventive maintenance you can have performed to make your axles last longer, but you can have them inspected from time to time to see if a problem such as a leaking seal or torn protective boot has arisen. Sometimes finding the problem early will make the repair easier and less costly.

Axles do wear out and need to be replaced. A severely worn axle can seize up, causing damage to your transmission or other components. Driving on a broken axle is risky because at any moment it can fail and you’ll end up losing control of your car. In severe cases when the axle breaks the wheel bearing will seize and this, in turn, causes the wheel to detach from suspension. This can lead to a serious accident or crash. Driving with a broken axle is a safety hazard to you and other drivers on the road. A worn axle should be repaired as soon as possible. 

If you suspect an axle problem, have it looked at right away. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Eureka Brake & Automotive service advisor if it's time for an axle replacement.

Give us a call.

Eureka Brake & Automotive <br/>707.443-2122 <br/>

Revised from content contributed by NAPA Service Assistant