Top 4 Bad Drive Shaft Symptoms

Bad Drive Shaft Symptoms

What happens when the driveshaft goes out? Nobody wishes for their driveshaft to go bad, but in the case of extensive usage or lack of lubrication, there are great chances that your drive shaft will need some replacement.

Understanding the common symptoms of a bad drive shaft will help you decide the best thing to do and when you need to change them. Your driveshaft handles the delivery of torque from your transmission to the differential. This plays a great role in the movement of your vehicle.

You must understand that the earlier you figure out what is wrong with your driveshaft, the earlier you can get your car moving properly. Some common symptoms of a bad drive shaft include vibrations, unusual noises, difficulty in turning, and car shuddering.

There are a few car defects that pose these same symptoms.

Let’s dive in to see what to look out for and how to tell that these symptoms identify a bad drive shaft.

Common symptoms of a bad drive shaft

1. Vibrations

Vibrations are one of the most common symptoms of a bad drive shaft. Vibrations from a bad drive shaft come from under the vehicle.

There are quite a lot of factors that can cause your driveshaft to vibrate. These include lack of lubrication, unbalancing in the driveshaft, worn-out U-joints, loose or damaged bushings, or bad driveshaft bearings. All these points indicate that you have a bad or failing driveshaft.

However, there are a few other reasons why your car can vibrate. A bad CV joint can cause vibrations in your car. The vibrations from a bad driveshaft are so loud and fierce that passengers of the affected car can feel them.

In most cases, the vibrations are not only felt on the floorboard but also through the steering wheel.

2. Unusual noise

If you are hearing an unusual noise in your car, there are chances that you have a bad driveshaft. A bad driveshaft comes with signs of clicking, knocking, or squealing noises. The unusual noises from your driveshaft are indicators that some elements/parts of your driveshaft are bad.

For instance, if the bearings or bushings attached to your drive shaft are bad, or maybe a worn-out driveshaft U-joint, your driveshaft will fail to rotate properly, and this will cause a clicking, squeaking, or scraping noise.

Sometimes, the unusual noise from a bad driveshaft results from poor lubrication and frictional effects. When your U-joint is not properly lubricated, your car will make abnormal noises.

You must understand that a bad CV joint or wheel bearing triggers noise. Whichever case that may be, it is important that you book an appointment with a mechanic when you notice a strange noise from your car.

A noise diagnostic indicates that most times, clunking noise indicates that you have a worn/bad u-joint, but a squeaking noise shows that your driveshaft/U-joint needs lubrication.

3. Car shuddering

If your car shudders when you hit the gas pedals, you should inspect your driveshaft. Car shuddering during acceleration is one of the most common symptoms of a bad driveshaft.

You must understand that your driveshaft is a major component of your drivetrain. Any slight damage to the driveshaft will impact your driving dynamics and the car’s performance. Bad driveshafts trigger car shuddering, especially when the U-joint or center bearing is compromised.

A loose U-joint or center bearing in the driveshaft will cause shuddering when you accelerate.

4. Difficulty to turn

Did you notice any difficulty while you tried turning your car? A bad driveshaft limits your wheels’ performance, making it difficult to turn your car. There will be much resistance in your tires, and your wheels won’t respond to turns when you roll the steering wheel.

You will also notice strong hesitation in wheel operation. This happens because the driveshaft is not delivering the proper amount of torque to the wheels due to a bad U-joint. Symptoms like this pose a great danger to yourself and other road users.

It is important that you visit a mechanic immediately for repairs and replacement.

What happens if you drive with a bad drive shaft?

You may love to know what happens if you drive with a bad drive shaft. Although many drivers will love to take the risk, it is an adventure we strongly do not advise.

Here are a few things that will happen if you drive with a bad drive shaft.

  1. Loss of power and control
  2. Unusual noise
  3. Inability to move the car
  4. Potential harm or accident

These issues extend to what will happen if your drive shaft breaks while driving.

Does the drive shaft affect transmission?

Yes, it does. Your drive shaft strongly connects your car’s transmission, engine, and differential. The role of the driveshaft is to sustain the transfer of power from the transmission to the differential.

So, can a bad drive shaft affect transmission? Of course, it will. A bad driveshaft can cut off power transmission to the differential. This will affect the performance of the rear wheels and can even cause your car not to move.

What causes drive shaft failure?

There are quite a few causes of driveshaft failure. Here are four common causes of drive shaft failure.

  • Poor lubrication
  • Wear and tear from extensive use
  • Loose U-joints
  • Bad bushings and center bearings


We cannot underestimate the importance of driveshafts in a car. With this guide, we believe you are now familiar with the symptoms of a bad drive shaft and what each symptom signifies.

You might not be experienced enough to carry out replacements on your driveshaft. Consider hiring the services of a professional mechanic to help you fix these things.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many drive shafts does a car have?

The number of driveshafts in a car is determined by the drive system of your car. A four-wheel drive car or an all-wheel drive system has two driveshafts. A rear-wheel drive car has an additional front driveshaft, which connects the front differential and U-joint transfer case. In all cases, the driveshafts fitted in all cars have little or no differences.

What is the most common drive shaft problem?

Amongst all the Common Driveshaft Problems, worn/bad U-joints are the most common driveshaft problems. This is followed by bad bearings and a lack of lubrication. These factors are the commonest things that can cause your drive shaft to go bad.

How long should a drive shaft last?

There is no fixed lifespan for all driveshafts as your maintenance culture determines how long your driveshaft will last. However, on a general scale, driveshafts last up to 75,000 miles. You don’t need to wait till your driveshaft reaches this limit before you change them.