Many individual components come into play for your car or truck to transfer power from its engine to the road wheels. For front-wheel drive vehicles, the primary parts are the driveshafts which connect at one end to the transmission and the other to each wheel hub. As these driveshafts exist in a harsh environment and have to put up with various types of road conditions, they can sometimes fail. If you suspect you have issues with your parts, what could be going wrong, and what should you do next?
Understanding How Driveshafts Work
Driveshafts are carefully engineered parts designed to spin at high speed while remaining balanced. Remember, this shaft must be connected to one part that is static (in other words, the transmission) and another part that is moving (the wheel). To achieve this, the shaft itself relies on other components.
Introducing the Universal Joints
One of the key components is the universal joint. Some driveshafts have two of these, while others will only have one, which will typically be connected to the wheel hub. This joint allows the shaft to move in various directions while still remaining connected to the transmission. So when your car or truck goes over a bump or turns a corner, the drive will still be transmitted to that specific road wheel.
In truth, the driveshaft itself is unlikely to fail unless it is incorrectly installed in the first place or has an intrinsic fault during manufacture. You're more likely to encounter an issue with the universal joint, which can render the driveshafts inoperable in certain circumstances.
Watching out for Trouble
You may notice a strange noise when you change gear, which may appear to emanate from the area of the road wheel. This "clunking" noise could indicate a worn or damaged universal joint. If this joint degrades too far, there will be far too much flexibility in the driveshaft plane, and one end of the shaft may move in or out of the transmission casing. This could lead to grinding noises when you attempt to change gears.
Taking Appropriate Action
It's always best to take action as soon as possible if you suspect an issue with your driveshafts, UV joint or other ancillaries. If anything fails completely, the vehicle may be stranded on the side of the road. If something breaks while you are driving, this could cause you to lose control in the worst-case scenario.
Get in touch with a mechanic for further advice. They'll be able to analyse the situation quite quickly and make repairs.
For more information about vehicle repairs, contact a local company.