Axle brackets are devices used to mount an axle housing to the suspension of a vehicle. There are two distinct types of axle brackets used on vehicles: coil spring and leaf spring brackets. The coil spring brackets commonly consist of only spring perches or spring pads, while the coil spring axle brackets also include trailing arm brackets and occasionally panhard bar brackets. Some performance types of brackets include traction bar attachments as well as adjustable brackets for use with traction-enhancing mechanisms. Most brackets are welded to the axle housing and are made of high-strength steel to withstand long-term use in the harshest conditions found on a typical roadway.
There is commonly never a reason to replace axle brackets except in a high-performance or custom application. The use of a different manufacturer's axle in another manufacturer's vehicle will typically involve the installation of new axle brackets. Perhaps the most common axle swap involves the installation of a Ford Motor Company rear axle housing into a vehicle. This Ford axle is recognized among the racing community as being the strongest stock axle available from any manufacturer. The use of the Ford axle is found in nearly every type of motor sports and commonly involves the installation of new axle brackets to mount the housing in the intended vehicle.
The off-road community also involves the use of new axle brackets in many off-road vehicles. Commonly used to place the axle under the springs for increased ground clearance, these conversions often include the use of another manufacturer's axle housing as well. Many Jeep owners and enthusiasts commonly recognize the Jeep axle as a weak spot in the vehicle's drive train. This leads to a very popular axle swap involving the use of Toyota Land Cruiser axles into the Jeep suspension package. The Toyota axles are seen as a natural fit in the Jeep.
When welding new axle brackets onto an axle housing, it is important to take precise measurements and locate the axle in the exact location. Even the slightest variation from the correct location can result in a vehicle that is difficult to handle, has uneven tire wear and can cause the drive train to bind and break under a heavy load. It is also recommended that when one axle bracket is changed, the other side should also be changed with the same manufacturer's bracket. This avoids an uneven suspension due to variation in bracket design between manufacturers.