How Does the Drive Shaft Work?

Vehicles have many parts and components in them that ensure they run smoothly and we get down the road safely. Most drivers don’t even know about some of the mechanics that are needed for the vehicle to function properly and keep us driving, and that’s okay. We don’t expect everyone to be vehicle experts, that’s what we are here for. One part of the vehicle that many people don’t know about, is the drive shaft. We are going to review what it is and how the it works.

What is a Drive Shaft and How Does it Work?

A drive shaft, driveshaft, driving shaft, propeller shaft, or driveline is a part of a vehicle that takes power from the engine or motor to a place where useful work can be done. The drive shaft is a cylinder, usually made of steel or sometimes aluminum. Most automobiles use drive shafts to deliver power from the engine to the wheels.

The drive shaft is a component of the drive train in a vehicle, with the purpose of delivering torque from the transmission to the differential, which then transmits this torque to the wheels in order to move the vehicle. The drive shaft is primarily used to transfer torque between components that are separated by a distance, since different components must be in different locations in the vehicle (Energy Education). In simple words, the main function of the drive shaft is to deliver the engine torque from the differential to the vehicle wheel.

Front-wheel drive vehicles do not use drive shafts; however, on rear-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, the transmission and axle are separate, meaning that the turning motion of the transmission needs to be transferred to the axle in some form. Hence, the drive shaft.

To keep this basic, since you don’t need to be an expert on it, the drive shaft is the spinning tube that transmits power from the engine to the back of the vehicle at the differential.

Are There Signs of Drive Shaft Problems?

Now that you have a general understanding of what a drive shaft is and why it is important for you driving along safely, we thought it would be good to review some signs that yours may have problems on the horizon.

  • Vibrations and Shuddering: If you notice vibrations coming from below you, they are usually not the good kind. This is typically an indication of your drive shaft, or other vehicle component, having issues. Any strange shuddering from your vehicle should be a sign to take it to a Phoenix automotive repair shop.
  • New and Loud Noises: As we have reviewed before, if your vehicle is making abnormal noises, you should not ignore them. The most common point of failure with a drive shaft is at the U-joints. You can often tell that these are going bad when you hear popping and clunking.
  • Turning Difficulty: Drive shaft problems can make it hard to control the vehicle’s ability to turn. If you feel hesitation or resistance when turning, or feel the vehicle struggling when you are trying to maneuver in and out of parking spaces, it could be a sign that your drive shaft is on its way out.

When it comes to issues with your Phoenix vehicle, Advanced Transmissions & Emissions can help.

Advanced Transmissions & Emissions specializes in transmission repair, rebuilding, and remanufacturing, and all of your other automotive repair needs from clutches, air conditioning, steering, suspension, and more. We are a full-service auto mechanic repair shop. If your check engine light is on, call us, we can do a diagnostic check while you wait.

Request an appointment today.

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