5 Common Signs of Drive Shaft Problems

drive shaft

A drive shaft is a spinning metal tube that transfers power from a vehicle’s transmission to the differential. It is connected to the vehicle with components such as universal joints and yokes. Due to the spinning motion of the drive shaft, a failure could result in significant damage to the vehicle.

Drive shaft problems affect the drivability of the vehicle and therefore the safety of the driver and passengers. Here are five common signs of drive shaft problems.

Drive shaft problems can cause a hesitation between your steering wheel and the car wheels. Your car’s tires will have an increased amount of resistance that you may be able to feel as you turn.

If your steering wheel is hard to turn without the wheel hesitation, it may mean you have a problem in the power steering system.

A squeaking sound from beneath your vehicle while driving may indicate that the bearings or universal joints, also called U-joints, connected to your drive shaft need lubrication.

A clunking noise when putting your car in drive, reverse or accelerating often means your drive shaft has a bad slip yoke. The slip yoke provides flexion when driving over rough terrain while still allowing the U-joint to rotate properly.

The clunking can also result from a worn out U-joint. Either way, your car needs to be checked out. Get to your shop right away.

Intense vibrations from underneath your car when driving is commonly an early sign of worn out bushings in the drive shaft. If not repaired quickly, the vibrations will get worse and eventually lead to the failure of other drivetrain components.

Quick note: vibrations that increase with vehicle speed may be caused by your wheels or tire. Your tires may need to be balanced or your wheels may be out of alignment.

Worn center bearings within the drive shaft or loose U-joints can cause your vehicle to shudder while accelerating. This may or may not be accompanied by abnormal sounds, either way your drive shaft needs to be checked.

Drive shafts are weighted and precisely balanced because they rotate with high torque and at very high speeds, so any problems can have a serious impact on your vehicle. If you notice any of the above signs of trouble and suspect you have a drive shaft issue, have your vehicle checked by an automotive professional right away!

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