5 Bad Driveshaft Symptoms Every Car Owner Should Know

Bad Driveshaft Symptoms 

The driveshaft is one of the components of a vehicle’s drivetrain. The answer to ‘What does driveshaft do?’ in simpler terms is that the driveshaft is a vital component that helps in bringing power to the wheels from the engine to run the vehicle.

When driveshafts go bad, the vehicle does not run smoothly and exhibits concerning signs like squeaking noises, shuddering while accelerating problems during turning the vehicle, and many more. Most of the time, the reason for driveshafts going bad are dirt penetration, constant wear & tear, insufficient or low-quality grease, etc.

If you have been confused with questions about driveshafts then look no further. This article covers topics from ‘What are driveshafts?’ to ‘What are bad driveshaft symptoms?’ which will help you understand the importance of driveshafts as well.

What Are Driveshafts? What Does Driveshaft Do?

Driveshaft, also known as the prop shaft, Cardan shaft, or propeller shaft, is located between the front wheels and gearbox. The primary function of this spinning tube is to deliver torque obtained from the engine to the front wheels via a differential.

The driveshafts are usually made of forged steel and have different components; midship shaft, flanges, tube yoke, end yoke, tube, center bearing, and universal joints. The location of the driveshaft varies with the car’s configuration and model.

Moreover, there are different types of drive shafts; front-wheel drive, two/three piece shaft, and single-piece shaft. Besides cars, driveshafts can be found in trucks, vans, boats, motorcycles, and locomotives.

What Are The Possible Bad Driveshaft Symptoms?

These are 5 bad driveshaft symptoms you should look for if you’ve been experiencing problems with the vehicle’s drivability. If you get to know the exact location of the driveshaft, you can do a regular check-up on the driveshaft to see if they have gone bad.

Unusual Sounds From Underneath The Vehicle

One of the common bad drive shaft symptoms you can easily detect is when the vehicle exhibits unusual noises. Wearing off and failing driveshaft U-joints or the driveshaft’s bearing can hinder the functioning of the driveshaft.

If abnormal noises come beneath the vehicle, then they are caused by a failing driveshaft, and it can create different kinds of sounds. Squeaky sounds are an indication that the driveshaft bearings need lubrication.

If you hear clunking sounds, it means that the U-joint has completely lost its ability to function efficiently and should be replaced. Also, failing or broken driveshafts could also make rattling, scraping, or squeaking noises.

Unnecessary Vibrations

There could be a lot of reasons why vehicles vibrate; one of them could be problems with the driveshaft. The vibrations come from beneath the vehicle and are one of the easiest bad drive shaft symptoms to remember.

The bushings keep the vehicle away from these vibrations, but when they get worn out, they can cause severe vibrations. Usually, the intensity of the vibrations is low, but when the problem remains unsolved, it can be felt severely.

Also, it is not a good sign for a vehicle to vibrate unnecessarily for an extended period, as it can lead to damage to other components. Hence, check-ups must be done regularly.

Experiencing Quivers While Acceleration

Sometimes when the vehicle resists when you start ignition, it could be a sign of bad driveshaft. The shuddering can also be experienced when the car’s speed is increased, or it is idle.

This could be caused by the loosening of U joints or center bearings going rancid. When it happens, the vehicle will start making unfamiliar sounds or the response time of the wheel will feel slower. This is a sign for you to take the car for inspection, as it can lead to further issues in the vehicle.

Trouble Turning The Vehicle

Broken driveshaft can also affect the wheels and lower their response time. When you make turns and the wheels do not respond instantly, then this is one of the signs of a bad drive shaft. The resistance in the wheels can be felt when there is stiffness or hesitance in the wheels.

Also, when the wheels don’t respond quickly, it can cause dangerous situations on the road while driving. Hence, the vehicle should be taken immediately to the mechanic to get to the root cause and get it fixed.

Movement In Universal Joint

With a broken driveshaft, the driveshaft’s universal joints also face troubles in movement. When the universal joints do not show movement or rotate too quickly, it indicates a broken driveshaft. You can also do a quick inspection by yourself to check if the universal joints are working properly or not.

Excessive movement in the universal joints yokes shows bad drive shaft symptoms. It is usually caused by the universal joints loosening or rusting the bearings’ cap seals. When such a situation arises, it is advisable to take the car to get the driveshaft replaced immediately.


How much does it cost to repair a broken driveshaft?

The cost will also vary depending on the part that needs repairing or replacement. Typically, the cost of replacing the driveshaft comes to around $490 to $1100. The additional cost of $250 will also add up to the labor charges.

For repairing only half portion of the driveshaft, the cost of labor would be around $140 to $260 and $340 to $860 for the repairing. Moreover, the cost of repairing goes up from $650 to $1850 if 4-wheel drives.

What to do when the driveshaft breaks while driving?

Driveshafts are responsible for providing grip to the wheels for efficient control during driving and turning. However, broken driveshafts fail to provide sufficient traction to the wheels. Hence, when signs of bad driveshaft appear, the first thing you should do is find a safe spot and immediately stop driving.

When driveshafts cannot work properly, the car’s wheelbase is also affected. This jeopardizes the car’s stability and the chances of encountering accidents increases. Hence, it’s safe to not drive a car whose driveshaft is broken.

Why Do Driveshafts Break?

There are several reasons why driveshafts break; damaged tubing, improper installation, worn-out U-joints, miss balancing, deficiency of grease, and worn-out bushing.

Driveshafts do not have a specific lifespan. Various factors like the type of vehicle, where it’s run etc., influence how long driveshafts will last. On average, driveshafts are expected to be changed after 75,000 miles.


Steering problems, excess vibration, unusual noises, etc., are some signs of a bad driveshaft. Whenever such signs and symptoms appear, the vehicle must be get checked to see if there’s anything serious. Bad driveshaft impacts the safety of the passengers and others on the road.

The chances of driveshafts going bad can be reduced or prevented with regular self-inspection and routine servicing done at service centers. Driveshafts are an integral component, and hence bad driveshaft symptoms must not be ignored.

Leave a Comment