5 Bad Driveshaft Symptoms Every Car Owner Should Know

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betti holt`

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.

If a vehicle’s driveshaft is failing, it typically manifests through an array of concerning symptoms such as squeaking sounds, shaking when speeding up, and difficulties when steering the vehicle, among others. Often, the degradation of driveshafts is due to factors like the intrusion of dirt, continuous wear and tear, or the use of insufficient or subpar lubricant.

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.

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, they are caused by a failing driveshaft, which can create different kinds of sounds. Squeaky sounds are an indication that the driveshaft bearings need lubrication.

If you hear clunking sounds, 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 are a multitude of factors that could lead to vehicle vibrations, one potential cause being an issue with the driveshaft. These vibrations often originate from underneath the vehicle and are among the most readily noticeable signs of a malfunctioning driveshaft. The vehicle’s bushings serve to insulate it from these vibrations.

However, as these bushings wear out, they may result in substantial vibrations. Generally, these vibrations begin at a low intensity, but if left unaddressed, they can increase and become quite severe.

Moreover, enduring unneeded vibrations for a prolonged period is detrimental to a vehicle as it could harm other components. Consequently, regular inspections are essential for ensuring the vehicle’s longevity.

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 idle.

This could be caused by loosening 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

A damaged driveshaft can also impact the wheels, reducing their responsiveness. If there’s a noticeable delay in the wheels’ reaction when making turns, this could signal a faulty driveshaft.

A resistance or hesitation in the wheel movement may be evident. Additionally, a lack of prompt responsiveness from the wheels can lead to hazardous situations while driving.

Therefore, any vehicle exhibiting these symptoms should be swiftly taken to a mechanic to identify the underlying issue and facilitate the necessary repairs.

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 correctly 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 needing repair 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 provide 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.

The car’s wheelbase is also affected when driveshafts cannot work correctly. This jeopardizes the car’s stability, and the chances of encountering accidents increase. Hence, it’s safe not to 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 at service centers. Driveshafts are an integral component, so bad driveshaft symptoms must not be ignored.

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