Axles break. They break going 70 miles per hour over crazy lunar terrain, and they break when rolling around the farm to check the property line.
It’s a universal experience among UTV riders. Whether by fluke or folly, most riders will break an axle and a new one will take its place no matter how they ride, right?
Maybe not. Let’s look at some of the most common ways people break their axles and all the ways axle failure can be avoided. When you know what to look out for, you’ll be less likely to commit these axle crushing crimes.
One of the most common support calls we get is from people who have just installed new axles and find that their boot is cut. This is an installation error. Most people don’t notice they’ve damaged their boot until starts leaking grease on their first ride. What’s the deal?
Cut boots aren’t caused by knives, old rubber, or anything like that. It’s caused during installation by inserting the inner CV into the differential and then letting the axle hang there without support. That bends the boot and joint further than it could during normal operation and pinches the boot enough to sometimes create a small slit.
It can happen on any stock or aftermarket axle and if you don’t spot the grease leaking right away, your new axle will soon be kaput.
Just don’t let your axles dangle during installation. You can support the weight of the axle with straps or a bungee cord to prevent boot damage.
You know the sound: that mechanical clunk and crackle that you hear emanating from your wheels. It’s especially noticeable when you’re going slow or turning hard.
The bad news is that you should worry about it. Your CV joint is on the path to failure once it starts singing. The good news is that with a little maintenance, your axle could keep running for a year or more or even longer.
The first thing you should do is check your boot. Low grease in your CV is a common cause of popping or clicking. If a boot is damaged and leaking, you can count on water and other contaminates getting into the joint. A full boot and grease replacement is your best bet to keep your axle in one piece.
If the boot and grease are good, your CV might just be reaching the end of its life. It’s OK, it had a good run. You can change your boot and grease to extend its lifetime, but your only long-term fix now is to get a new axle or replace the afflicted CV joint.
Those are the most common problems that are easy to understand and easy to address. There are plenty of ways to break your axles without warning, though. Watch out for these common mistakes when you’re getting wild.
Keep all these things in mind and your axles will thank you with a longer life and more weekends that aren’t interrupted by parts failures. Of course, you could grab some heavy-duty axles from SuperATV and enjoy riding without worrying about breaking an axle.