Your axles are the last link in transferring power from the engine to your wheels. These long-lasting strong parts can run into trouble.
Axles wear out over time and need to be replaced. Sometimes axle seals leak, causing the axle to wear out prematurely. Lubricant can leak out and intruding water and dirt can contaminate the gears. When this happens, you may hear strange groaning or clunking noises from your axle when you turn.
If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the sound would be from the rear. If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the sound would be up-front. With an all-wheel-drive, the sound could come from either front or back.
Your service technician knows to check for things like leaking seals, torn CV boots, and worn axle joints. An inspection can reveal if there are any problems or if a part is nearing failure.
When there is concern with the axle shaft, it can be removed and inspected. If damaged, the shaft must be replaced. If the shaft is in good shape, it can be cleaned, lubed, and reinstalled. Any damaged CV boots can be replaced.
Take care of your axles as soon as you become aware of a problem. Waiting only makes the damage worse and more expensive. Complete axle failure can cause lock-up and severely damage other parts like your transmission, which all can contribute to an accident.