“Axle” vs. “Axel” (Difference Explained)

In simple terms, the difference is that an “axel” is a figure skating jump and an “axle” is a tool that connects two wheels on a vehicle. Notice the difference in their spelling.

While English is one of the most widely spoken languages with 1.5 billion speakers worldwide, sometimes it can be not very clear! And it’s the same with similar-sounding words like flour and flower. Even though these words may sound similar, their meanings are entirely different.

I’ll help you out by listing the differences between an Axel and Axle in this article.

So, let’s get right to it!

What is an Axle?

An axle is a spindle that connects a wheel or a group of wheels passing through its center. It can either be fixed to the wheels or rotated on wheeled vehicles. An axle can also be set to the car, and then the reels spin around it.

It’s basically a rod or a shaft that connects a pair of wheels to propel them. Its purpose is also to retain the position of the wheels to one another.

An axle in a car works when the engine applies a force to it and this, in turn, rotates the wheels, making the vehicle move forward. Their primary role is to obtain torque from the transmission and transfer it to the wheels. As the axle spins, the wheels turn, which helps drive your car.

They’re considered a crucial car component even if people tend to overlook them. They’re responsible for delivering the driving power from the engine to the wheels.

How Do You Spell Axle for a Car?

If you use it in the car, remember that the letter “X” comes first before the “L.”

An axle is basically a rod around which the wheels rotate, as you may have known. The car’s front wheels sit on an axle, and they move around it as the car moves.

Generally, they’re only two basic types of axles in a car. The first is the “Dead axle,” which is present in a vehicle to put up with its weight. This type of axle doesn’t rotate with the wheels.

The other is the “Live axle,” which is connected to the wheels and drives them forward. A constant velocity joint usually connects the wheels and a live axle. It allows the axle to transfer power to the wheels more smoothly.

Moreover, axles can also fall into other standard categories. These include the front axle, rear axle, or stub axle.

  • Rear Axle
    This is responsible for delivering the driving power to the wheels. Additionally, it’s divided into two halves known as the half shafts.
  • Front Axle
    It’s responsible for assisting with steering and processing shocks due to uneven roads. It has four main parts: the swivel pin, the beam, the track rod, and the stub axle. They’re made of carbon steel or nickel steel because they need to be as sturdy as possible.
  • Stub Axle
    These are attached to the front wheels of the vehicle. Kingpins join these axles to the front axle. They can be split into four types based on their arrangements and subcomponents: the Elliot, the reverse Elliot, Lamoine, and Lamoine reverse.

What Does Axle Mean?

“Axle” is also a biblical name derived from the Hebrew name Absalom, who was the son of King David. It means “father of peace.”

This name became popular in the USA due to the rockstar Axl Rose. Its origins are in Scandinavia.

Here are some examples of the words axle and axel used in sentences:

  • This competitive figure skater executed the axel really efficiently and smoothly.
  • The car should change direction with the new front axle more easily now.

What’s the Main Difference Between an Axle and a Shaft?

A shaft is used for rotary motion, whereas the axle is used for linear or angular motion.

The shaft transmits power over a short distance, while an axle transmits power at a long distance. A shaft is a hollow steel tube and has a greater diameter than an axle in terms of material. In comparison, axles are solid steel rods with teeth cut into their ends.

Moreover, another difference is that the shaft is meant for balancing or transferring torque. On the other hand, the axle is intended for balancing or transferring the bending moment.

Is a Wheel on an Axle or Shaft?

As said earlier, the axles can be fixed to the wheels and rotated with them. Axles are also responsible for holding the weight of your car along with its passengers and cargo.

They’re also known for absorbing the shocks coming from the rough streets. Therefore, axles are generally made of robust materials. These materials have better resistance against abrasion, deformation, fracture, and compression.

If the front and rear axles are sturdy enough, they can easily transmit the powerful force from the engine to the road. And it’ll offer you a significant amount of control over the vehicle.

Take a quick look at this video explaining how a wheel and axle work:

For a car to attain high performance and maintain it, the axles must be of appropriate strength and stiffness.

What’s an Axel?

An “axel” is known as a jump in the skating world called the “Axel Paulsen” jump. The name is dedicated to its creator, a Norwegian figure skater.

An axel jump is considered one of the oldest and most difficult jumps. It’s the only competition jump that begins with a forward takeoff, making it easier to identify.

This jump is performed by the skater leaping from the front outer edge of one skate into the air to make about one and a half rotations of the body. Then, they land back on the outer edge of the other skate.

A figure skater performing a jump.
Edge jump means that a skater has to spring themselves into the air from bent knees instead of using a toe pick to push off the ice as done in other jumps!

The axel is distinct for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the only jump that requires the skater to lift off while skating forward.

Secondly, it contains an extra half-revolution. This makes the double axel two and a half revolutions.

What’s the Difference Between “Axle” and “Axel”?

As said above, an “Axle” is a steel bar or rod located at the center of a wheel. It supports the car’s motion. On the other hand, an “Axel” is a jump in ice skating.

It can be unclear to learn the English language when words like these come up. They have similar sounds and only a minor difference in spelling, yet they mean two completely different things.

However, there might be a reason why they both sound so similar. They both refer to things that revolve around a central axis. This is why their names are also pretty similar.

Fun Fact: Even though the Axel jump is named after the Norwegian skater, coincidentally, the word “Axle’s” origins are also Norwegian. It derives from the Old Norse öxull.

Here’s a table comparing the difference between Axel and Axle:

Categories for ComparisonAxleAxel
DefinitionIt’s an aspherical shaft or rod which connects two wheels and positions them to one another.The Axel also referred to as the Axel Paulsen jump after its designer, is a jump in figure skating.
OriginTechnically, the axle was created in the Middle East. Perhaps even further north in Eastern Europe, almost about 5,500 years ago.Axel Paulsen (1855-1938), a Norwegian figure skater, is known to be the first to accomplish the axel in 1882.
UseIt’s a valuable tool responsible for balancing vehicles such as trucks and cars by joining the wheels. A figure skating jump is utilized in sports and competitions.
Element Every vehicle requires axles. They need to function well because they’re responsible for transmitting the energy which spins the wheels.Axel is the unique competitive jump feature that starts with a forward takeoff. This makes it obvious and easiest to identify.
Hope this helps clarify your confusion!

Why Do European Trucks Have One and American Trucks Have Two Drive Axles?

Both American and European trucks can have dual-drive axles. However, the difference mainly comes down to the weight distribution over roads and bridges.

There’s a difference between American and European roads, so their truck configurations are made the way they are.

Every axle in European trucks has a higher weight limit. Not only that, but their trailers can carry so much more weight that there isn’t any need for more drive axles.

Moreover, the single drive tractor or tridem trailer has much more maneuverability. However, it rides on rougher roads.

In addition, the tandem drive or trailer is a bit less likely to waltz off on slippery roads and drive smoother. However, it’s off track, and the amount of space it takes is comparatively huge.

While in Europe, the road junctions are tighter, and cities are more compact. Due to weight limits, the tridem axles have to be farther forward to carry more weight off the drive during a single ride.

Because the said maneuverability is crucial, they trade the smoother ride for the smaller off-track.

What is a 2-Axle, 3-Axle, and 4-Axle Vehicle?

This means exactly what the terminology says. A two-axle vehicle has 2 axles, which means it has one axle in the front and one in the rear.

On the other hand, a three-axle vehicle has three axles! This vehicle has one in the front and an additional axle in the rear, making it two.

At the same time, a four-axle car has two axles in the front and two in the back. Although, it can also have one in the front and three in the rear.

An axle is a steel rod connected to the center of a wheel. For example, one wheel is connected to the body with an axle on a bicycle. However, you can combine left and right wheels with only one axle in a car or truck.

A bicycle is an example of a two-axle vehicle with front and rear axles.

Axles on a bike.
This is what axles on a bike look like.

Final Thoughts

  • “Axle” is a car part connecting wheels for rotation, while “axel” is a figure skating jump.
  • English has confusing words like “flour” and “flower.”
  • Car axles transmit power for movement.
  • “Axle” in cars spells with “X” before “L.”
  • Car axles include “Dead axle” (bears weight) and “Live axle” (drives wheels).
  • “Axel” jump: old and challenging, forward takeoff, half revolution.
  • Similar sounds, different meanings, stress accurate spelling.

Other Articles

Click here to learn more about Axels and Axles through this web story.

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