Play in rear axle normal?

I took my 2013 mustang gt into a shop to have the suspension looked at and diagnosed (squeak when going over bumps) they told me it was the shocks.

They also told me while they were diagnosing the car, they tried pushing the rear wheels with the car in the air and they showed me there was a very small amount of lateral play when pushing on the wheel maybe 1/8 of an inch and I could hear a metallic clicking noise when they pressed on the wheel like it was moving a little. They said the wheel bearings are OK and all the lug nuts are tight. They then told me there is some play in the axle and that I may need axle shafts soon but I can keep driving it for now.

Is it normal to have some side to side play (like 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch in the rear axle when pushing on the wheels or is any amount of play bad? Just trying to figure out if they’re trying to upsell me.

Most rear axles gave that much play. It’s the result of "C-lock design axle shafts.

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A live axle with semi-floating shafts (that’s what we call your set-up) will always have a slight amount of play. I’m sure there’s a spec somewhere for what the max allowed is and without feeling it myself it’s hard to tell for sure, but I wouldn’t be alarmed just yet.

I assume this is a stock rear end set?

Yes stock rear end, changed the fluid, gasket and breather vent at 90k, now has 100k. Besides that it’s never been touched.

Would it be safe to say if i’m not feeling vibration when driving or hearing any weird noises coming from the rear end that everything is ok?

While not directly related to your car, you may find this informative

When you start hearing the rotors scrape on the caliper brackets you’ll need to open it up. Either the diff pin or the axle shafts will need replacing.

About 0.040 inches of play is normal.

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My Ford’s 9 incher axial play seems closer to 0.04 inch than 1/4 inch.

A 9 inch rear is significantly different in design to the OPs 8.8 inch axle even if the play is similar.


I think they discovered something they are not familiar with. There needs to be some play to allow for thermal expansion. Check the play again, 10 minutes after a highway trip driving 75 mph for 4 hours.

You mean after driving highway speeds for extended amounts of time there will be a lot less play?

Yes, play is reduced when hot. You don’t have to test for this after a drive unless you want to prove it to yourself.

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If the axle movement was excessive, the axle seal would be leaking.


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I understood that the OP’s play was the movement inward and outward, Tester. I searched and found no worthwhile videos on the situation.

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Don’t worry about the axle movement in and out, with a c clip axle set up as the OP’s, if the axle is moving to much in and out, it is broke and you will be having other more pressing issues… lol
Remove the rotor and you will normally have much more in/out movement…