What is an Axle Assembly and How Does it Work?

Without an axle assembly, your car can’t move at all. The axles are the most critical parts of your Mazda’s mobility. Because of that, it’s pretty important to know what they are and how they work.

What is an Axle Assembly?

This is simple question with a complex answer, thanks to the proliferation of Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles. We'll try and make the subject as simple as possible. First, let's walk through some terminology.

Axles

Live Axle - This type of axle transfers power from the engine to the wheels, and also supports the weight of the vehicle. The term mostly refers to the axles found at the rear of pickup trucks, and some specialty cars, such as the Mustang. Live axles have a differential in the middle of the axle. (Live axles were also commonly used under rear wheel drive sedans, before they went out of fashion.)

Dead Axle - This type of axle is not connected to the engine. It just supports the vehicle, and the hubs and wheels connect to it. Dead axles are found under the rear of some older minivans, and in newer front wheel drive delivery vans. They look like a simple steel beam with a hub on each end.

Axle Assembly - This refers to the axle shafts that are found at the front of a FWD vehicle, and at the rear of an AWD car or SUV. They do not support any vehicle weight - they just transfer power from the engine to the wheel.

CV Axle - CV stands for Constant Velocity. CV Axles are a type of axle assembly that is only found in the front of the vehicle. They have a unique design that allows the front wheels to turn to the right or left, while they still deliver power smoothly.

To sum it up, the axle assembly's main purpose in a FWD or AWD vehicle is to deliver power to the wheels. In a truck or van, a live or dead axle will also support the vehicle's weight.

How Do Axles Make Your Car Move?

This answer will vary depending on the type of vehicle you drive:

FWD - In a FWD vehicle, the power from the engine goes into the transaxle. The transaxle is essentially a transmission combined with a differential. The CV axles connect directly to the transaxle, and deliver the power from it to the wheels.

AWD - Modern AWD vehicles have a more complex transaxle than FWD vehicles. In addition to powering the front CV axles, the transaxle also powers a driveshaft that connects to a differential in the rear of the vehicle. The differential is mounted to the underside of the car body, and is connected to the rear axle assemblies. The rear axle assemblies power the rear wheels.

What Happens When an Axle Fails?

The axle is one of those parts that absolutely have to work correctly if you want to drive your car. When one of your axles breaks, your car can’t move.

You can still move your car if one of your axles is starting to fail, but it’s risky because your axle can give out while your car is in motion. If that happens, you'll need a tow. It’s much safer to diagnose the issue as soon as you notice symptoms of a failing axle and then replace it right away.

Can You Order an OEM Mazda Axle Assembly Online?

Axle drawing

Do you need a genuine OEM Mazda rear axle assembly or front axle assembly? You can skip the hefty markup at Mazda dealerships and order one from us at a discounted price. Here are several examples on how much money you can save with us:

  • Part No. GP43-25-50XA (for 2010-2012 CX-7s): Regular price: $472; our price: $323
  • Part No. FTB6-25-60X (for 2013-2017 CX-5s and 6s): Regular price: $488; our price: $334
  • Part No. GG46-25-600C (for 2007-2009 3s): Regular price: $402; our price: $275

Can You Replace an Axle Assembly at Home?

As long as you have a good set of tools, you can replace your axle assembly right in your garage. But, be aware that this is a more challenging job than replacing a brake rotor, for example. You can find a great video tutorial online. In fact, here’s a comprehensive tutorial on replacing a Mazda 6 axle assembly.