Are you noticing some weird sounds coming from the center of the car and you suspect that the driveshaft is the one to blame and that you look for a drive shaft replacement? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Having a problem like this can be pretty serious because nobody wants to have a bad drive shaft. When you have a bad driveshaft you basically have problems in transferring the power from the transmission to the rear differential.
Components get worn out after years and years of use and abuse and they eventually fail. Causing a number of symptoms to develop on your vehicle. What is important though is that you need to learn these symptoms and react whenever there is a necessity to do so. Because you don’t want a problem like this to stay for long and cause a complete failure of the driveshaft. A complete failure of this unit is something that nobody wants. But we are going to help you out with that.
First, we are going to learn what is a driveshaft and why it is important. Then we will learn the causes of what is causing a driveshaft to go bad. Then we will discuss the driveshaft symptoms and the drive shaft replacement. How it is done and what is the price to pay to fix this problem. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Driveshaft?
Now, before we discuss the drive shaft replacement, let’s first learn more about the basics of this component. As you know, not all of us here are into cars and know these components really well. So, an introduction to the topic would be quite an essential thing to do. If you feel that you are already familiar, you can move on to the causes and the symptoms of a bad driveshaft.
But what is a driveshaft? A drive shaft in simple words is a big steel tube that connects the differential with the transmission (vehicles like tractors also use PTO drive shaft). In some areas, it is also known as tail shaft, driving shaft, or even Cardan shaft.
This driveshaft is used to transfer the rotational energy from the transmission to the rear differential. Meaning that is a torque carrier and because of this, the drive shaft is a target of great stress and vibrations. These components are very rugged and durable. But they still can break sometimes and require driveshaft replacement to be done.
The important thing to note is that the drive shaft is only used in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles. Since the driveshaft is used to power the rear wheels only. The front wheels are powered by something called a transaxle. So, you can find these driveshafts in all of the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars and trucks.
But from what components is the driveshaft made of? (Various types of tractor PTO shaft)Although it might look simple. A driveshaft is actually quite a complex piece of machinery. It is usually compromised of the tube, at least two U-joints at the ends. Yokes are also used for each of these joints. Then there is the center bearing and the flange joke that is connected to the differential and transmission.
Why The Drive Shaft Is So Important?
Before we discuss the drive shaft replacement let’s also discuss why this component is so important to be in proper working condition. Since a lot of inexperienced owners might think that driving with a bad driveshaft might not cause any harm.
And this type of thinking is completely wrong. Why I’m saying this? Well, because it is true. The driveshaft is one of the components that gets extremely stressed out during its long use and abuse.
You just cannot imagine the forces that this steel tube and the U-joints have to put up with on a daily basis. Whenever you drive off your car, there is so much stress on these U-joints. The acceleration process is the most stressful and cars that are used around town that are stopping a lot are known to suffer more from bad drive shafts, unlike vehicles that are used mostly on open roads where there are no stoplights and other obstructions that make you stop all the time.
If the driveshaft isn’t performing well, there would be some poor performance from the vehicle. Along with the symptoms of a bad drive shaft and then you probably would be looking for a drive shaft replacement. But have you asked yourself what are the causes for a bad driveshaft? What components on the driveshaft fail and cause these ugly symptoms? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.
Causes Of A Bad Driveshaft
Now let’s discuss the probable causes for a bad driveshaft. It is worth understanding the causes before we dive into the bad driveshaft symptoms and then on the drive shaft replacement.
In the following few chapters, we are going to cover the basics and the most common failure points on the driveshaft. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
1. Bad U-Joints
These universal joints are attached to both ends of the driveshaft. Meaning that there are at least two of them on each driveshaft. More complex shafts have even more U-joints. What happens is that their internals wears out and they start to leak the grease that is inside of them. Then there is a play that develops and the bad driveshaft symptoms happen and require drive shaft replacement.
2. Damage To The Shaft Itself
Another cause that indicates drive shaft replacement is the damage to the shaft itself. This is the steel tube that tends to fail when overloaded.
If there drive shaft is mangled and tweaked, then the drive shaft replacement is essential. If not, you can only replace the U-joints and you will be good to go.
3. Damage To The Yoke
The yoke can also crack and require drive shaft replacement. The yoke is a rugged metal component on which the U-joints are mounted.
Sometimes the yoke also can fail and cause a complete failure of the driveshaft. So, it’s worth paying attention to it.
4. Bad Center Support Bearing
If the driveshaft is composed of two tubes, then between them in the middle would probably have a center support bearing.
This bearing can also fail and require drive shaft replacement.
5. Bad Flex Disc
Some driveshafts are using a flex disc instead of U-joint. This is a rubber component that basically does the same thing as the U-joint does. It couples the transmission and the driveshaft. Most modern cars are using these flex discs and are quite popular.
They are rubber components. Meaning that this rubber is absorbing a lot of vibrations and delivers better comfort for the driver and the passengers. But they also tend to crack because of age and require drive shaft replacement. Enough on the breaking points, now let’s discuss the symptoms that you will notice when you have this problem with the driveshaft.
Symptoms Of A Bad Drive Shaft
Now before we discuss the drive shaft replacement. Let’s take a look at the symptoms that are most often associated with a bad driveshaft. Knowing the symptoms will help you locate the problem much quicker.
And then when you locate the problem, you can learn the probable causes and see if the U-joints or other components that we mentioned in the previous chapters have failed and are causing you this issue. So, what are the symptoms of a bad drive shaft for replacement? Let’s elaborate on them.
1. Vibrations From The Undercarriage
The most common symptom that indicates that there is something wrong with the driveshaft and there could be possibly a need for drive shaft replacement is the symptom when there are vibrations that are coming from the undercarriage.
Yes, that’s right, whenever there is a problem with the driveshaft, there will be vibrations that will come from underneath. These vibrations will be most common at idle speed or when the vehicle is accelerating from a dead stop. This vibration is also known as a shudder. When the car is shuddering then something bad is happening underneath.
You put your foot on the gas and strange stuff happens from the rear, the car is simply shaking and you can feel these vibrations all over the cabin of the vehicle. And this is not something pleasant that could be ignored and you act like there is nothing wrong with the car. There is a lot wrong with it and it needs checking. Even a drive shaft replacement will be necessary if the problem is too big. Now let’s move to the other symptom.
2. Squeaking Or Clunking Noises From The Drive Shaft
Weird noises will also be present when the drive shaft replacement is needed. Why is this the case? Well, this is the case because there is a lot of play inside of the components.
The U-joints are probably done with their service and are in desperate need of service. Meaning that whatever you do, things will not sort out unless you perform a repair or drive shaft replacement on the car.
These noises can be different from case to case. But the most common is the squeaking noises and clunking noises. These noises often happen in parallel with the vibrations. Meaning that you can’t miss them.
The important for you is to detect them. And if they come from the transmission tunnel, the issue needs to be investigated. But most commonly the U-joints are the problem or the flex disc if your driveshaft is using a flex disc. These discs know to rot out after many years of use and basically ruin your driving performance.
When the rubber is going away, there will be vibrations and noises. A clear sign that a drive shaft replacement is needed. Now let’s move on to the next symptom.
3. Difficulty While Turning
Another symptom that could indicate a need for drive shaft replacement is the difficulty while turning.
This is most often caused by the loss of balance in the driveshaft and this basically affects the whole drivetrain, including the steering wheel and the suspension. Meaning that you will have a hard time controlling your car whenever you have a bad driveshaft.
If you feel resistance while turning the wheel as well vibrations and noises coming from the transmission tunnel. Then this could mean that you are in desperate need of a drive shaft replacement. So, don’t ignore this symptom and act quickly. The difficulty of turning the steering wheel could also indicate that you are having a bad power steering pump. So, it is worth keeping this in mind as well.
Overall, not a common symptom. But it knows to happen sometimes in most extreme cases of a bad driveshaft. Now let’s cover the last symptom of a bad driveshaft.
4. Car Doesn’t Move
The last symptom that we are going to cover when it comes to a bad drive shaft is when the car doesn’t want to move. And you probably don’t want this symptom happening to you.
When this happens, you know that you need a drive shaft replacement to be done on your car because the driveshaft completely failed.
When the car doesn’t want to move, then the driveshaft broke off in two sections and it is no longer connected. This happens when you are delaying the repairs on the driveshaft. It will eventually catastrophically fail if you overload the vehicle.
This car will be good for nothing until it’s towed and properly serviced. The drive shaft replacement will be needed to be done in order for the car to be brought back to normal and you be able to resume driving.
Enough of the symptoms, now let’s move to the diagnosing process and learn how you can diagnose a problem like this and determine that you need to perform a drive shaft replacement.
How To Diagnose A Bad Drive Shaft?
Now let’s discuss how you can diagnose a drive shaft. Knowing how to diagnose the driveshaft will help you determine whether or not you need to perform a drive shaft replacement on your car.
For this process, the vehicle needs to be put on a lift so you can access it from underneath. Then you need to get a pry bar and put the pry bar at the U-joint and the yoke. Then you need to give it a little wiggle and if it moves then this U-joint is probably done.
Also, check the bushings of the U-joints, make sure that they are not all cracked and filled with sand or other debris that usually gets inside them and ruins these components. In addition, check all of the four pins on the U-joint and see if they are in good condition. If they are pressed in or they are no longer there then this U-joint needs replacing.
If the driveshaft is made out of two sections, you will also need to check the center support bearing and see if it is any good, if it’s not good, then this will also need to be replaced. Or just perform a drive shaft replacement with a new unit.
And not but not least, is the flex disc on some cars that are using these joints instead of U-joints. Make sure that the flex disc is not all cracked and doesn’t have play in it. If it does, then it has to go and be replaced with a new one. Now let’s see if you should do a drive shaft replacement or repair on it.
Drive Shaft, Should You Repair It Or Replace It?
Now let’s see whether you should repair it or replace the drive shaft. And the short answer is that it depends much on how much money do you have to spend on this problem.
If you have a limited budget, then replacing only the U-joints and bearings will do the job just right. But if you have more to spend, then a drive shaft replacement would be a better idea. These components are not that expensive after all. But more on the cost a bit later.
The important thing is that with a new driveshaft you will never ever have to worry about something going wrong. Remember that this is a completely new unit with new U-joints and seals. It should work like a charm. With repaired driveshafts, you never know what could possibly happen and soon you might have a problem once again.
So, drive shaft replacement is the thing you probably need if you have a bigger budget for this repair. And how this is done, we are going to cover in the following chapter.
How To Replace The Drive Shaft DIY?
Now let’s see how you can do drive shaft replacement DIY. This job is quite demanding and to be done, you will need another person as well as a lift to lift the car to have access to the driveshaft.
You can also do this with jack stands to secure the car and do it on your driveway alone. But the best is to call a friend to give you a hand. Here is a video of how this work is done to a Chrysler 300.
As you can see, it is very demanding and will require a good amount of knowledge and strength. The driveshaft is not a light component and is quite heavy. Especially if it is on a truck. Pickups have really heavy drive shafts and the drive shaft replacement is more expensive on them. But more on that in the following chapter where we will elaborate on the costs involved in this work.
Drive Shaft Replacement Cost
Now let’s discuss the drive shaft replacement cost. How much money you can expect to pay for a drive shaft replacement?
Driveshafts unfortunately are not that cheap because they need to be installed by professionals and this is quite expensive to do.
The part itself will cost you somewhere between $300 to $800. But the labor will also cost you about $300 or more in some cases. The average cost for a drive shaft replacement is about $500 to $600. But the bigger the vehicle, the more expensive will be to perform this work.
If you decide to repair it, on the other hand, you can expect to pay about $100 for the parts and about $300 for the labor. So, overall it will cost you about $350 to $400 to repair the driveshaft.
And frankly, this is another good option if you want to save some money. A drive shaft replacement is not always essential and you might want to take a look at this option as well.
Can I Continue Without Replacing It?
Can you continue without drive shaft replacement or repair? The short answer is no, you will not be able to continue driving like this for long.
Driving like this is still possible though, but you will constantly have to face the symptoms like the vibrations and weird noises that will happen all the time while you drive. And coping with that on a daily basis will piss you off.
So, spending $600 on a drive shaft replacement might be a good idea actually. Not to forget that the driveshaft could completely fail and make your car unusable. You probably don’t want to reach that point.
Conclusion To Drive Shaft Replacement
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to drive shaft replacement. First, we learned what is a drive shaft and its importance.
Then we covered the most common causes of the drive shaft failing. These were the U-Joints deteriorating and the flex plates rotting out. Then we covered the symptoms of a bad driveshaft. There were a few of them like the vibrations and weird sounds coming from the undercarriage.
Lastly, we focused on the drive shaft replacement. We learned how much you can expect to pay for this work and also how it is done by professionals. You can also opt for a repair on the driveshaft as well if you have a limited budget.