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Your Vehicle and the Driveshaft

by | Oct 25, 2022 | Best Western Transmission

When it comes to maintenance or repair needs, most vehicle owners focus their energy on the components of their vehicle’s powertrain.  The powertrain includes your vehicle’s engine and plays an important role in creating the energy to run your vehicle.  However, the drivetrain is just as critical.  The drivetrain is what transfers the power from your engine to the wheels.  Without components like the driveshaft and differential, your vehicle would not be able to move.  In this month’s blog, we discuss the driveshaft and the role it plays within the drivetrain. 

The Driveshaft

Your vehicle’s driveshaft sits on the underside of your vehicle, and is a long, steel rod that is responsible for transferring the torque power from the transmission to the differential, and ultimately the wheels.  Because the driveshaft is in constant rotational motion when in use, it is balanced and weighted accordingly to optimize its function.   

The driveshaft may also be referred to as the propeller shaft, the prop, or the Cardan shaft.  There will be variations to where this component sits based on the type of drive system in the vehicle – for example, a rear-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive.  Four-wheel drive vehicles have two driveshafts to power the wheels. Front-wheel drive vehicles do not have a driveshaft but operate with a transaxle.   

Driveshaft Problems 

The driveshaft is typically subjected to wear on components such as the universal joints, or damage from driving hazards like potholes.  Because the driveshaft is carefully balanced to perform its function, pulling heavy loads, or straining the driveshaft with excess weight on the vehicle may also cause problems.  The driveshaft itself is rarely the source of the problem, rather it is mostly based on stress or corrosion to other components that are part of the drivetrain.  

The more common indicators of a driveshaft problem may include one or all of the following: 

  • Shuddering or Vibrations:  You may experience a heavy shuddering when accelerating from low to high speeds.  If the shuddering or excessive vibration is present, this may be an indication that the driveshaft has connection or balance issues.  Do not put off having your vehicle inspected because neglected shuddering or vibration may only lead to further complications in your drivetrain or other vehicle systems.   
  • Trouble Turning:  If you are struggling to turn your vehicle, this may be an indication of a driveshaft problem.  This type of problem is important to address as soon as possible, since it represents a safety concern. 
  • Unusual Noises:  There are many different sources of noises within your vehicle, including the driveshaft.  Worn universal joints may cause a popping or clanking sound in the underside of the vehicle.   

If you have any concerns about your driveshaft, or are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s advisable to have your vehicle inspected and/or maintenance performed on the vehicle.  Simple maintenance for the driveshaft includes lubrication of the universal joints and other components.   

Keep your driveshaft in good working order and have it inspected today.  Give us a call at Best Western Transmissions to schedule an appointment.