When you buy a car, you soon realize that driving is about more than just turning on the ignition, engaging the gear and having your foot on the gas pedal.
You need to learn what’s under the car so that you can react immediately in an emergency.
An important component of a car’s drive mechanism that you must be familiar with is the drive shaft.
How the driveshaft operates
The purpose of the drive shaft is to transmit the torque from the gearbox to the wheels. If you drive a front wheel car, the drive shaft consists of an internal speed joint, an external fixed joint, and the connecting shaft.
Within the drive shaft, the CVJ shafts are subject to constant load and high temperatures due to the displacement angles. If you have problems with your driveshaft, you will usually hear a knocking sound when you drive around corners or accelerate.
Symptoms of a faulty driveshaft
The driveshaft is found in most rear-wheel drive vehicles. The purpose of the drive shaft is to transfer the torque from the engine to the wheels. The output shaft is the one that rotates, and this rotates the input shaft. The differential ring then turns the wheels.
If the input shaft has problems, you cannot drive your car effectively. This is how you identify a faulty input shaft:
Inside the driveshaft, there are bearings and bushings to help with rotation. Over time, these wear out, and an abnormal noise is generated from the drive shaft. The noise can be a composition of rattling, scraping or knocking. The U-joint that supports the drive shaft must be checked for wear. If you hear these noises, you should take your car for mechanical repair.
Vibrations coming from underneath the car
It is normal for the car to vibrate a little, but if the vibrations are intense, something may be wrong. This can be caused by wear on the U-joints and bearings of the driveshaft. Driveshafts are designed so that they are evenly distributed under the car. This ensures that they do not vibrate unnecessarily. Vibrations can cause further cracking of other parts of the driveshaft due to imbalance.
The driveshaft is of central importance for driving the car. If you have problems turning the car around corners, your driveshaft could be having issues. This can be dangerous if you drive at high speeds. Maneuverability is crucial if you want to avoid collision with other cars.
Problems during acceleration
If you notice that the car shakes when you try to accelerate at low speeds, you may have problems with your driveshaft. This could be due to a worn bearing or U-joint.
How long does a driveshaft last?
The driveshaft transmits the torque to the wheels. Rear-wheel drive cars use it to transmit power to the wheels at the front. Four-wheel drive cars often have more than two driveshafts, which makes them difficult to maintain. Like the car, the driveshaft has a limited life span. If it starts to wear out, you will have problems distributing power to the wheels.
A defective driveshaft exerts pressure on other parts of the car. It is estimated that a driveshaft has a life span of about 75,000 miles before it is completely worn out. However, this depends largely on the use of the car and the terrain. Cars whose height has been adjusted tend to have a damaged driveshaft. If you want to ensure that your driveshaft will last longer, lubricate the U-joints and bearings as soon as they show signs of wear.
You will know they need to be replaced as soon as you hear a squeaking noise under the car. Have your driveshaft checked the next time you take your car in for service.
Repairing driveshaft problems
If you have two or more driveshafts, you will need the center bearings for support. The bearing is attached to the frame cross-brace. The bearings must be well lubricated due to the friction they absorb. If the driveshaft has too large a drive angle, it will put unnecessary pressure on the center bearings. Moisture that comes into contact with the area can also damage it.
You know that it is time to repair your driveshaft if you find that rust is forming on the joints, or if you hear a clicking sound when you drive with the car brake on. The first step in repairing a defective driveshaft is phasing. This involves marking the yokes so that you have perfect alignment when replacing the driveshaft.
If you decide on a split shaft, make sure you have marked the shaft before you split it. You will need proper tools to remove the drive shaft and you should not attempt this if you lack the appropriate training.
Check the thrust washers, propeller shaft yoke, link yoke, socket ball for wear and tear. You should be aware that not all noise generated by a car can be a result of a defective drive shaft. Low vibration is normal for most cars. To avoid further problems with your driveshaft, make sure you buy tires of the same size, and sometimes even the same brand. This is because tires often have a different circumference if they’re from different brands.
The exception is the spare tire – which you probably won’t use for long distances. When driving, make sure that your tires are well inflated with the same tire pressure. Wear and tear should also be even among all your tires. If you need to replace a tire, replace all of them. This will prevent the weight from being distributed unevenly among the worn tires.
The noise produced by a defective driveshaft is often clearly audible when you move through flat, tarred surfaces.
The drive shaft plays an important role in transmitting power from the engine to the tires. If you notice that the car vibrates more than usual or you have problems turning, the drive shaft may be malfunctioning.
With a good driveshaft, you should be able to cover more than 75,000 miles, but you will need to replace and lubricate the moving parts such as bearings and U-joints.