5 Symptoms of a Bad Drive Shaft and it’s Replacement Cost

Torque is the twisting force produced by the engine. The driveshaft transfers this torque to the Wheel of the car and enables it to move.

Most vehicles are front-wheel drive, this means that all the torque would be transmitted to the front two wheels. Such a system is called the half-shaft. However, in four wheels driven vehicles, the drive shaft transmits the torque to all the four wheels. This is the reason that four-wheel-driven vehicles have two drive shafts. One for the front two wheels and the other for the rear two wheels.

It’s important for you as a driver to know how da driveshaft works? how to check if something is wrong with the driveshaft? This article will cover all the common symptoms that symbolize a problem with the drive and its working principle.

What is a Drive Shaft?

What is a Drive Shaft


A drive shaft, also known as a propeller shaft, is basically a lengthy bar that transfers the torque from the output shaft of the transmission to the rear differential in all-wheel-driven, rear-wheel drive, or four-wheel driven vehicles.

Usually, a driveshaft has an assembly having a Universal/U-Joint attached to the differential and internal splines on the edges attached to the transmission.

You will find two separate drive-shafts in four-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicles. One transmitting power to the rear wheels and the other for the front wheels. The working assembly of a drive shaft mainly depends upon the manufacturer’s implementation of an all-wheel or four-wheel-drive system.

How does the driveshaft work?


The driveshaft is the main component that enables the movement of a car by connecting the rear differential to the transmission and the car engine. It is a mechanical part having the shape of a cylinder or tube that enables the transmission to power the differential. That’s how the rear wheels of a typical car move in the first place.

The driveshaft is lengthy because it has to move from the rear differential to the front transmission. U-Joints are situated at both ends of the driveshaft to improve its flexibility. This helped the driveshaft to show little flexibility when moving over potholes, bombs, and other road irregularities.

Without the presence of a driveshaft, real wheels would not get the power. But the good news is that the driveshaft will not fail immediately unless you got into a serious accident. However, driveshafts may deteriorate slowly over time, which gives an alarm to the driver about a failing drive shaft in the first place. You must identify all the symptoms in order to get an idea for the early replacement of your driveshaft. Otherwise, you are in serious trouble and at a high risk of having a severe accident.

6 Common Bad Driveshaft Symptoms

Since driveshafts have the ability to rotate quickly, they must be able to move your rear wheels. This is only possible if the driveshaft has a decent balance and remains weighted downwards.

When the drive shaft begins to have failure problems, it will severely damage your driving ability. Following are the t5 most common symptoms that can help you now there is a problem with the slip yoke/driveshaft and need replacement:

1. Vibrations

Driveshaft Tech to Avoid Vibrations


If you are continuously listening to a lot of strange vibrations from Beneath your vehicle, your driveshaft may have some problems. This is commonly considered the first sign of having a bad drive shaft.

The vibrations are most likely due to impaired bushings of the drive shaft. These bushings prevent the driveshaft from vibrations. If you do not address this problem soon, the vibrations will increase. After some time they will be so many vibrations that the passengers inside the cabin will be able to feel them. It can also possibly damage other drivetrain components too.

It is important to note here that the vibrations which increase with speed may indicate tire balancing problems. Wheel balancing should be done on a regular basis or specified by your manufacturer.

2. Clunking Noises

Clunking Noises


If your accelerator your vehicle and you hear a clunking noise, check whether this noise also appears when you reverse or drive? If you hear planking noises in any of the above cases, your driveshaft may have any issue and should be immediately examined. Usually, this is also a bad slip yoke sign.

3. Squeaking Noises

engine squeak squeal noise


If you are continuously hearing squeaking noises coming from beneath your vehicle, your driveshaft could possibly have a fault. It may have some worn-out parts or unbalancing issue.

4. Universal/U-Joint Movement Issues

U-Joint Movement Issues


There might be a problem with your driveshaft that it has a rotation failure or is too fast to rotate. This can give you a hint that the universal joint is not stable or have rusty cap seals on the bearings. In this case, you must replace your life as soon as possible because you can not drive in this situation.

5. Problems in Turning


If your wheels don’t turn instantly or they hesitate when you try to make a turn, you could possibly have an issue with your driveshaft. You will find a lot of resistance within your tires which you can easily observe when you try to make a turn. Certainly, this is a risky situation and you need to look at it immediately. Turning problems can also be due to a faulty power steering pump.

Can You Drive With a Bad Drive Shaft?


Although it is often possible to drive with a bad driveshaft, however, it is not very sensible to do it for a long time. In case only a part of your driveshaft is failed, you will lose significant power to that axle. In the worst scenario, the drive shaft will fall and hand between your vehicle and the ground, blocking any forward movement.

In the case of some all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles, the disconnection of any axle like the case above may result in severe stress to the center transfer case or differential. This could possibly cause failure or premature wear for the central differential.

If your driveshaft has disconnected from one side and it’s still working quickly, there is a big chance that it will do severe damage to the bottom machinery of your vehicle. Even if the driveshaft is still working, it will continue to rotate for a moment but perhaps take out anything in its path. This could be anything like fuel lines, brake lines, handbrake cables, or even any important parts of the wiring assembly.

Drive Shaft Replacement Cost


Half-shaft for a front-wheel-drive car, driveshaft replacement cost somewhere between $470 to $940. You will have to pay the labor cost between $150 to $190 and the replacement parts will cost somewhere between $320 to $750.

In the case of a four-wheel or rear-wheel-drive car, the driveshaft replacement will cost you somewhere between $600 to $2000. The labor cost will be between $200 to $600 and the replacement parts will cost somewhere between $400 to $1400.

It is worth noting here that the driveshaft replacement cost largely depends on the model and make of your car. The type of vehicle will decide the price for labor and replacement parts.

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