When the axle of a vehicle fails, it is sometimes possible to do an axle rebuild rather than a full replacement. The most important tip when considering an axle rebuild is to thoroughly inspect all components of that axle, as well as any surrounding components, that may have been damaged as well. This can prevent a headache later on when the repair has been done but other components are still damaged, thereby rendering the vehicle incapacitated still. It may be necessary to have a professional mechanic do an inspection to ensure the axle can be rebuilt safely and effectively.
The process of doing an axle rebuild will vary depending on the type of axle being worked on. Some are part of the drive system of the vehicle; these are known as drive axles, and they contain many components that will affect the driving, steering, shock absorbing, and overall stability of the vehicle. If the drive axle is in the rear of the vehicle, it will contain a component known as a rear differential. This is a common site for repairs, and doing such repairs can be difficult and costly. The person doing the axle rebuild should have a repair manual on hand that gives step by step instructions as to how to address problems in the rear differential; this is important because improperly addressing problems in this area can prevent proper transfer of torque from the drive shaft to the axle itself.
If the axle housing is cracked, it is generally a good idea to avoid an axle rebuild and simply replace the entire unit. If, however, the person doing the repair simply wants a quick and inexpensive solution, the housing can, in some cases, be welded back together. This repair should be done by a person with welding experience; all rust and dirt will need to be removed from the affected area before any welding can be done. Keep in mind that this is usually only a temporary fix, as repeated stresses on the axle can cause the weld to fail, which can lead to a loss of control of the vehicle.
Just about all axle rebuild projects will require the vehicle to be lifted off the ground. Using the proper equipment to do so is important not only for ease of access to the crucial components, but also for the safety of the person doing the repair. The repairer should never work under a vehicle that is supported only by hydraulic jacks meant for tire changes; whenever possible, the vehicle should be raised on a lift designed for such repairs.