Just like a lot of complex machines, cars and trailers are made up of many moving parts and mechanisms, and all of them play a crucial role. The axle spindle is no different. It plays a pivotal part in making sure the wheels move together correctly. As such, it is important to know and understand what an axle spindle does, how it does its job, and when you should look to repair or replace it. Read on for a ready reckoner on everything axle spindles.
How Do Axle Spindles Work?
Axle spindles are a key component of a vehicle’s steering axle, and they are designed to mount the wheels and tyres to the axle, and to fasten the braking system. A spindle is fastened to the axle assembly by using kingpins or ball joints, and the wheel hub is then attached to the spindle using a castellated nut. The spindles are part of the assembly around which these wheel hubs rotate, and they provide a surface for outer and inner wheel bearings to roll around. In simpler terms, the axle spindle is at the crux of ensuring your vehicle’s wheels operate smoothly and in unison.
In most assemblies, spindles are welded on rather than bolted on to ensure build quality and security. Axle spindles are not charged with powering the vehicle, unlike a drive axle. However, these spindles are required to pivot on the axle to allow the front wheels to turn when the driver turns the steering wheel. The function of a spindle is the same for trailers and other wheel-based applications.
Across all of these, maintaining your spindle is important, especially lubrication. Lubricants, such as grease caps, help in preventing the wheel bearings from contacting the spindle’s surface, thus stopping any wear and tear.
Why Are Axle Spindles Important?
It’s safe to say that axle spindles are one of the most important parts of your car. As mentioned earlier, axle spindles hold the hub of the wheels in place and connect the arms of each wheel to the axle on the suspension system. As part of the suspension system, these spindles help a vehicle in turning left or right, drive forwards or backwards, and even brake. Suspension systems may differ across makes of cars, but the role of the spindle remains universal.
The axle spindle also helps in a vehicle’s caster. The caster is the forward and backward tilt that adjusts the vehicle’s steering process, and the directional control of the steering.
In simple terms, the axle spindle ties everything together in a steering and suspension system, such as the bearing joints and control arms, and provides a mounting surface for the wheel assembly. If there are any stabiliser bars or anti-sway bars in your vehicle, those are mounted on the spindle as well, thus making it a crucial component of your car.
Have You Noticed These Signs Your Axle Spindle Needs Replacing?
Axle spindles are one of the most important parts of your care, but they are often overlooked when it comes to maintenance and regular attention. As with all machine parts, spindles are also susceptible to eventual wear and tear, and there are a few factors that contribute to it.
You Can See Gouging or Scarring on Your Spindles
Metal transfer from the wheel bearings onto the spindle is one of the most common reasons for observing wear on your spindle. Excessive usage over time can cause the bearings to wear against the spindle and cause a groove where the metal wears off.
Your Spindle Looks Different or Broken
Spindles that are exposed to excessive heat over a prolonged period may also need to be replaced. One of the reasons this may happen is due to a burnt bearing, and sometimes these bearings can get stuck onto the spindle.
You’ve Noticed Increased or Excessive Tyre Wear
Another reason that often goes unnoticed is the lack of lubrication, because of which bearings can rub against the spindle. This friction can cause immense wear if gone unchecked and will also affect vehicle performance.
Crashes or accidents can also potentially damage, crack or bend your spindle beyond repair, in which case replacing it is the best and safest option. In some instances, a simple repair job can solve any issue you may be facing with your spindle by means of welding or rethreading. However, most times, replacing it is the best option to ensure you have a comfortable and safe driving experience.
Can You Replace an Axle Spindle Yourself?
Axle spindles are often welded to the axle tube, and limited bolt-on options are readily available on the market. As such, replacing a spindle requires breaking or cutting off the existing weld, and then welding the new spindle into place. This makes it a challenging task to take on for the average household mechanic or any do-it-yourselfers. For both skill and equipment reasons, performing a proper welding job on the axle is better left to the professionals who do this regularly for a living.
This is not to discourage anyone from giving it a go themselves, but because of the high skill necessary and the importance of getting it right, this is one of those jobs that is better left to a professional mechanic. The importance of welding the spindle securely and with a proper alignment cannot be stated enough, especially since it relates to how your car steers. It might be worth spending those few extra dollars to get a professional to do the job for you, rather than going through the frustration of a difficult job that has the potential to go wrong — which will only force you to the mechanic anyway.
Alternatively, it can be a better option to replace the entire axle rather than just the spindle. It may also be more effective because if one spindle is requiring replacing, chances are others also will need it. This is a simpler job that does not require the same level of high-precision welding. Instead, you just need a little mechanical knowledge and the right tools, as well as a few spare hours.
If you are going to replace the entire axle because of a damaged or broken spindle, make sure to have everything you need handy so you can get the job done efficiently so you’re less tempted to cut corners. This includes having a jack and power tools at the ready so you can get to work safely and without needing to search for various items.
To start, you’ll need to jack up your vehicle to access the old axle. Do this using an appropriate jack or stand, ensuring to follow all product safety instructions. Make sure your car is sitting securely. Then it’s just a case of getting your old axle out and the new one in place.
You’ll need to loosen the lug nuts on the wheel you’re working on, then remove the cotter pin from the tie rod end so you can take the tie rod end out of the steering arm. From there, take the ball joint from the suspension upright — you may need to disconnect the sway bar and other parts of the suspension bar to get at the ball joint properly. With that done, you should be able to pull the old axle out and then slip in the new one. Depending on your car there may be snap rings to deal with to get the old axle out and to fit the new one in. Once your new axle is in place, it’s just a matter of putting everything back the way it was.
Of course, you can also always approach a dependable mechanic to swap out your axle too if you’d rather skip the hassle!
Get Axle Spindles & Other Parts at Online Shops
If you are looking for axle spindles for your car, or any other related product, you can find them all online for reasonable prices. They have parts for cars of different makes, so you can be assured that you will find what you need. If you are a car owner or enthusiast, you know how important an axle spindle is and should not delay replacing a faulty one.