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Following an accident in which a light pickup truck left the road and overturned, one of the rear axles, made of approximately 0.30C steel, was found to be fractured adjacent to the bearing lock nut. A keyway was present in the failed area, as were threads for the lock nut. Fracture surfaces of the failed axle and exemplar fractures obtained from simulation tests were studied using scanning electron microscope. The examination showed that the outer perimeter fracture in the axle was very flat and composed of cleavage and that the interior portion was composed of both cleavage and dimples. No evidence of prior cracking was found. The exemplar specimens from the simulation impact testing failed in a manner consistent with that observed in the axle. The examination confirmed that the failure was a one-time impact overload fracture and not the result of any prior crack in the material, indicating that the axle failure did not initiate the accident.

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