In a two-wheel drive vehicle, a single driveshaft stretches from the transmission to the rear axle, transferring the kinetic energy from the engine that causes your tires to rotate. The driveshaft is in constant motion to transfer this torque, turning in symmetry with your axel. Explore how a damaged driveshaft can affect your vehicle to learn just how vital this cog is to your car’s operation.
Minor Scratches and Bumps
Since it runs along the belly of your chassis, over time, the driveshaft will naturally develop some scratches and imperfections from hitting debris on the road. As long as these problems don’t warp the overall shape of the tube, they are essentially just cosmetic damages. If you don’t notice any unusual vibrations or bumps when accelerating your vehicle, you can ignore any minor damage to the driveshaft.
Vibrations When Accelerating
Once a driveshaft becomes warped, it will become increasingly noticeable to the driver and passengers. One of the most visible signs of a bad driveshaft is that during each rotation, it will cause the entire vehicle to vibrate. It will make the car noticeably shake and often make a humming or ticking noise. This vibration is because the bent driveshaft is making contact with another part that it normally would not be touching. Since the piece is distorted, it can’t travel within its typical path.
Due to the bends in the shaft, it will take more energy from the car to complete one full rotation. And, since you’re using more energy, your engine has to burn more fuel. So until you’re able to get a new driveshaft installed, your car won’t be able to operate at its optimal fuel efficiency, costing you money.
Causing Breakdowns or Totaling a Vehicle
If a bent driveshaft is left unchecked, eventually, it will snap and break into two pieces. Once this happens, the connection between your wheels and engine will be severed, and the vehicle won’t be able to accelerate again. The best-case scenario when this happens is a minor break that doesn’t damage any other parts. However, if a driveshaft violently snaps, the momentum of the break can send one either sharply up or down. If the shaft goes up, it will puncture those parts above it and risk breaking through the floor of your cab. Should the driveshaft go downward, it will plant itself into the street like a flagpole, stopping your vehicle in its tracks.
Now that you understand how a damaged driveshaft could affect your vehicle to the point of totaling it, if you notice the signs of a potential issue with yours, seek out a mechanic immediately.
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