A driveshaft is the cylindrical shaft that transmits torque from the engine to the wheels. They are most commonly found on rear-wheel drive vehicles, and connect the rear of the transmission to the driveshaft. As the output shaft of the transmission rotates it spins the driveshaft, which then turns the differential ring gear to rotate the wheels.
Driveshafts are a very precisely balanced and weighted component, due to the fact that they rotate at very high speeds and torque values in order to turn the wheels. When the driveshaft has any sort of issue it can cause problems that affect the drivability of the vehicle. Usually a problem with the driveshaft will produce symptoms that alert the driver of an issue that should be addressed.
Intense vibrations from underneath the vehicle
One of the first symptoms of a problem with the driveshaft is vibrations coming from underneath the vehicle. If the driveshaft U-joint or bushings wear out, it can cause the driveshaft to vibrate excessively.
Driveshafts are finely balanced before installation to ensure that they do not vibrate. Any sort of vibration is an indication that there is an issue. An excessively vibrating driveshaft will not only cause vibrations that can be felt by the passengers, it can also cause accelerated wear on other drivetrain components, which can lead to other issues.
Another symptom of a problem with the driveshaft is abnormal noises. If the bushing or bearing that supports the driveshaft or the driveshaft U-joints wear out or fail, it they can interfere with the driveshaft’s ability to rotate correctly. This may result in unusual rattling, clunking, or even scraping sounds from underneath the vehicle. Any noises such as these are an indicator that the vehicle should be serviced as soon as possible.
Driveshafts are an important part of the drivetrain, and any issues with them can greatly affect the drivability of the vehicle. As they are underneath the vehicle and connected to the transmission, they may be difficult to access and service on your own. If you suspect that your driveshaft is having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician from YourMechanic to determine if the driveshaft should be replaced.