Keep Learning.
Keep Growing.

Top 3 Drive Shaft Problems and How To Identify It Yourself

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

Drive shaft giving you problems and driving you crazy?

Don’t worry, we are here to help you find out if you have a drive shaft problem – once and for all!

Drive shaft are found between the gearbox and front wheels, close to the ground. With the constant twisting and harsh road conditions, drive shaft problems are common for vehicle with mileage above 120,000 kilometres. A worn drive shaft will manifests itself in the following symptoms:

  • Spoiled or torn drive shaft cover
  • Clicking noise
  • Vibration

If your car is having any of these symptoms, you should consider getting your drive shaft inspected and repaired.

What is drive shaft?

This is a picture of Cardan Shaft by IP83. Malaysian refer to this as long shaft, NOT drive shaft.

First, let’s make things clear. If you have ever tried to Google drive shaft, you will see a propeller shaft / Cardan shaft.

That is NOT the drive shaft that we are talking about today.

I’ll explain why.

Internationally, the propeller shaft you see is collectively known as drive shaft. So, Google is not wrong (well, it’s never wrong).

But in Malaysia, we have our own local lingo.

We refer to propeller shaft as long shaft because of the length of the shaft.

On the other hand, we call half shaft as drive shaft.

This is Perodua Myvi drive shaft set, showcasing both the drive shafts from the side view.
This is Perodua Myvi drive shaft set, showcasing both the drive shafts from the side view.

These my dear friends, are drive shafts.

Mr. Wikipedia prefer to call it (i) drive axle, (ii) constant-velocity axle (CV axle) or (iii) half shaft.

They are two completely different thing. So don’t get mixed up. By international standard, this article is actually talking about half shaft but I’ll refer to it as drive shaft from here on because that’s how we do things here.

Got it? Great, let’s move on!

So where do you find them? 

Depending on your car model, you can find the drive shaft next to your front or rear wheels or both. If it’s a front wheel drive, you will certainly find this next to your front wheels, connecting into the car transmission box. 

Each drive shaft connects the car transmission to one of the wheels. That also means that generally we will have two drive shaft for every car.

How does it work?

The constant velocity joint of a drive shaft can be seen attached to the car wheels.
Drive shaft is located next to your car wheels.

So, how does it work and why do we need it? Drive shafts serve two purpose:

  • Improves the range of motion of your car wheels. 
    When your wheels go over a bump, it shifts upward. Drive shaft accommodates this shift while keeping the wheels intact.
  • Transfers rotational energy from the transmission to the wheels. 
    When you crank your engine, the engine combusts the petrol-air mixture. This makes the car engine piston goes up and down. The car transmission take this engine power and converts them into rotational energy using a differential. Finally, the differential rotates, passing the rotation through the drive shaft and then to your car wheels.

As you can see, drive shaft is a very important part of your car. If you remove it, your car won’t move! That’s why we call it… drive-shaft, because it’s a shaft that drives the wheel!

“Drive shaft, drives you forward”

What is the top 3 drive shaft problems?

Mechanical parts, especially moving ones are prone to wear and tear. Drive shaft is no different. We have compiled and isolated the top 3 drive shaft problems and we are going to share it with you today. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

1. Spoiled or torn drive shaft cover

A picture of a broken drive shaft cover. You can see a tear on the boot and the grease splashes onto the car wheels.
Check your drive shaft for a broken constant velocity boot. Getting it changed immediately can save you money.

What is a drive shaft cover you may ask?

Some refer to it as constant velocity boots, a rubber cover that keeps the lubricating grease inside the constant velocity joint.

A torn cover can be detected very easily if you know where to look. All you need to do is put on some dirty clothes, crawl under the car and locate the shaft.

You will notice a visible crack or a puncture at the drive shaft cover. Most of the time, this will be accompanied by grease splashes around your car tyre.

If you have a spoiled cover, please do not ignore it. Go get it changed quickly before further damage can be done.

Why…? Because the drive shaft cover keeps the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out.

The good stuff… is the lubricating grease. For any moving parts, it is always important to have lubricating grease.

It cushions and reduces metal-to-metal contact within the constant velocity joint.

A torn drive shaft cover will let lubricating grease leak out. Without the lubricating grease, the metal will collide against each other and wear out significantly faster.

On the other hand, constant-velocity boot also helps to keep the bad stuff out. I’m talking about moisture and dirt.

  • Moisture
    When water get in contact with metal, it reacts with the metal and form iron oxides (rusts). This is when we see the very familiar red coloured rusts that we all hate and despise!
  • Dirt
    Dirt and sand can grind against the metal part of your drive shaft and causes accelerated wear. It is like having sandpaper inside the constant velocity joint and we definitely do not want that happening with our car.

So what should you do if you have a torn drive shaft cover?

If you want to keep your drive shaft in good condition, change the cover! This is the single most important and cost-effective way of maintaining it.

But, it is easier said than done because when you have a spoiled or torn drive shaft cover, it often go unnoticed.

Why? Because it does not show any symptoms other than the puncture itself. When we do not change the cover, the drive shaft deteriorate even faster and you will start to notice noise and vibration.

It’s like a ticking time bomb!

If you are determined, you can get inspect it yourself once every few months. As soon as you discover that you have a torn cover, contact your foreman immediately to get it serviced.

2. Clicking Noise

Picture this.

You are driving on the road trying to get to work. Then, you see a sharp turn to the left in front so you start to steer your car to that direction.

Suddenly, you hear this rapid clicking noise when turning.

In this short video, Justin Miller showcased what a bad drive shaft sounds like.
Although some car models can differ slightly, this is the most obvious sign of a drive shaft failure.

That is a tell-tale sign for you to know that you have a bad drive shaft.

The clicking noise is an audible noise that sounds like “tak tak tak…” and it goes on as long as you are turning. It is especially noticeable when you are turning a sharp corner. Even more so when you step on the gas pedal when turning.

Let’s take a closer look.

Have a listen to this closeup view of bad driveshaft by jimmyihl.
Yup, definitely a worn CV axle.

You should be able to hear it from your driver seat when driving. If you listen close enough, you can hear which side is the noise coming from. In the hands of an experienced car mechanic, they can even tell if it’s coming from both side or just one side.

What should you do if you hear the clicking noise?

Well, there is no easy way to say this. But if you can hear it, it means that you definitely need a drive shaft repair.

You can consider replacing the front wheel drive axle yourself and save on labour charges. But, we do recommend that you prepare some extra transmission fluid. Gearbox fluid will leak out when you are removing the drive axle.

Also, make sure you take care of your own safety and tighten all the nuts and bolts in proper sequence and torque. Never over or under tighten your nuts and bolts!

I recommend studying this video first so you have an idea of what to do.

EricTheCarGuy did an amazing walk-through video on how to replace a front-wheel drive axle. For beginners, it won’t be as easy as it looks but it’ll be a great starting point!

Alternative, you can get someone else to do the hard work for you. Just head over to the nearest car workshop to get a professional to inspect and change it for you.

Lastly, we would recommend getting both your drive shaft repaired. This is because if one side is worn, most likely the other one will be as well.

Two is always better than one. This’ll save you a trip to the local car service centre in the future!

3. Vibration

It’s Saturday morning and you’ve planned a field trip together with your friends. You’ve been looking forward to this day and it’s finally here!

As you turn into the highway, you start to accelerate at 30… 40… 50… 60 kilometers per hour. It was this moment that you start to feel your steering wheel shaking when you accelerate.

Guess what?

You’ve just found out that you have a bad drive shaft. Not exactly a great way to kick start your weekend.

A bad half shaft can cause vibration at your steering wheel when travelling at high-speed. We are talking about 50 kilometers per hour or faster.

However, don’t just rush to a nearby drive shaft shop to buy yourself a reconditioned part just yet. You may end up buying something that you don’t need. This is because vibration is a common symptoms and can be caused by many other things. For example:-

  • Engine mounting
  • Steering rack
  • Unbalanced tyres
  • Poor road conditions

Well, if you notice the vibration, what should you do?

We strongly recommend that you get a professional test drive done to see if it is really a worn drive shaft.

Once confirmed, you should get your drive shaft repaired before it gets worst.

If the vibration is left unattended, the wear will deteriorate aggressively.

Instead of a straightforward repair, it can become a complicated one. Or worse, you may have to pay for a new one which will costs a lot more.

You know what they say, early bird gets the worms (and save money too!).

If you have a bad drive shaft, who you gonna call? Not ghost buster!

A bad drive shaft can cause unpleasant driving experience, drains fuel economy and also compromise your safety on the road. You should get your drive shaft repaired as soon as you can.

If you have a worn drive shaft and happens to live in Selangor, Malaysia… I know someone that you can speak to.

D S Auto.

Call us to get a free test drive. Don’t worry, you have no obligations to purchase from us.

We will just help you check your car. Then, you can decide if we are the right fit for you.

Established in 1991, we are a repair specialist that deals mainly with drive shafts and steering racks. That is over two decades of experience dealing with virtually all car models in Malaysia! So rest assured that your car will be in good hands.

We also offer a peace of mind through money-back guarantee. If we can’t fix your problem, we don’t charge a single cent.

So, if you need advice or test drive, feel free to call 03-7805 2020 or use our Facebook live chat. Until then, drive safe and drive smart!

We thought you'd love these topics too!

Follow Us

Close Menu