What is a Driveshaft?
A driveshaft, also known as a propeller shaft, is a mechanical component used to transmit power and torque from the engine or transmission to the wheels of a vehicle. It is typically a long, cylindrical shaft made of metal that connects the transmission output shaft to the differential input shaft.
In rear-wheel drive vehicles, the driveshaft connects the transmission to the rear axle, which turns the rear wheels. In four-wheel drive vehicles, there are two driveshafts – one that connects the transmission to the transfer case, and another that connects the transfer case to the front axle.
The driveshaft rotates at high speeds and is designed to withstand the forces and stresses generated by the engine and the motion of the vehicle. It typically has a universal joint at each end, which allows it to bend and flex as the vehicle moves over uneven terrain.
The Common Signs of Driveshaft Problems
There are several signs of drive shaft problems, on front-wheel drive vehicles, one is vibration whilst driving in a straight line, normally it starts with a slight vibration at 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60mph. You can usually drive through it, but it will reappear when you get back to that speed, if still under load. You may notice that it happens when the vehicle is under load, maybe you’re going uphill, applying power or towing a trailer or caravan, if you depress the clutch and the vibration disappears, that’s a good sign of a worn drive shaft. Over time the vibration will get worse and worse and you could lose drive so we recommend that you get them inspected or replaced as soon as possible. If you are unsure which side is causing the vibration, you could try holding the drive shaft bar next to the inner cv boot, lift it, twist it and pull it, then immediately do the same on the other side. You will normally feel more play in one or the other and it’s a good bet that the one with the most play will be the worn one. Unless it’s both, the other option is to take it to a drive shaft specialist and ask them to inspect it for you.
The CV Joint
Another indication that they are worn, is if you have a clicking or knocking when turning corners, then it’s normally the outer cv joint, you will find mostly that it’s the opposite side that is worn, for instance, turn right and it clicks, then the left-hand outer cv is worn, turn left and it clicks suspect, then the right-hand outer cv joint is worn. Always inspect the gaiters (boots) on the inner and outer cv joints, a high proportion of drive shaft failures are because of ripped or leaking boots, always secure the boots with good quality metal ties (don’t use plastic ties). Also there are a lot of thermoplastic (hard plastic) boots on the market even a lot of main dealers supply them, we suggest you don’t use them unless you have no option, they are strong but they are impossible to get a good seal with them, so you should use neoprene (rubber) boots. Make sure that you always clean out the old grease and refill with a good quality cv grease such as molybdenum or lithium.
A Snapped Drive Shaft Bar
On some drive shafts (Honda, Nissan and some others) the drive shaft bar can snap in two, this is due to the rubber damper in the middle of the shaft holding water. For the course of 10 years or so rust will eat into the bar and weaken it. These anti-vibration dampers are a nuisance and are unnecessary, in fact we always remove them and have never had any ill effects, the lifespan of a drive shaft varies greatly depending on the make, the power and the way it’s driven but normally they last for at least 30,000 miles up to 95,000 miles (however we have seen drive shafts that have done more than 200,000 miles). If you get a squeaking drive shaft it’s normally a universal joint on the prop shaft that is tight in one place, you can also get vibration that comes from your prop shaft in rear-wheel drive and 4×4 vehicles, this is normally a universal joint or centre bearing that’s worn.
Types of Driveshaft Problems
Driveshaft problems can cause various symptoms, such as vibration, noise, and loss of power. Here are some common driveshaft problems:
Bent or damaged driveshaft: A bent or damaged driveshaft can cause vibration and noise, especially at high speeds.
Worn universal joints: The universal joints at each end of the driveshaft can wear out over time, causing a clunking noise when accelerating or shifting gears.
Imbalanced driveshaft: An imbalanced driveshaft can cause vibration and noise, especially at high speeds. This can be caused by missing balancing weights or damage to the driveshaft.
Loose or worn centre bearing: The centre bearing supports the driveshaft in the middle of the vehicle. If it becomes loose or worn, it can cause vibration and noise.
Damaged CV joint: In a front-wheel drive vehicle, the driveshaft is also known as a half-shaft and includes a constant velocity (CV) joint. If the CV joint becomes damaged, it can cause clicking or popping noises when turning.
Transmission or differential problems: Driveshaft problems can also be caused by issues with the transmission or differential, such as worn bearings or gears.
If you suspect that your vehicle has a driveshaft problem, it is important to have it inspected by a qualified mechanic to avoid potential safety hazards or further damage to your vehicle.
Do You Need a New or Reconditioned Driveshaft?
You can consider Driveshaft UK a one-stop-shop for all your drive shaft parts. We offer universal joints, centre bearings, yokes and much more. Established in 1993, we have years of experience behind us so we can provide you with professional advice if needed. Our range is available for same-day dispatch.
We offer a wide range of services to meet every type of need. If your drive shaft or CV joint needs to be replaced, we can help. We can detect the problem and develop specific drive line solutions quickly.
If you are facing issues with your prop shafts, we have the expertise and the precision equipment to balance prop shafts to maximise their efficiency, get in touch today.
For more information on drive shafts, check out our blog! It’s full of useful information, like what to do if your drive shaft breaks while driving and further information on what a drive shaft does!