Drive Shaft Misalignment: Causes And Fixes
As a car owner, it's important to be aware of the common issues that can occur with your vehicle. Drive shaft misalignment is a major issue that can lead to a cascade of problems down the road. Discover how misalignment occurs and what you can do to fix the problem.
Drive Shaft Misalignment
Drive shaft misalignment can occur for many reasons. One common cause is worn or damaged U-joints. As the U-joints wear out, they can become loose and allow the drive shaft to fall out of alignment.
The U-joints allow the drive shaft to flex as the suspension moves up and down. So, if they're damaged or worn, they can't do their job properly, causing misalignment issues.
A broken or damaged suspension component is another common cause of drive shaft misalignment. The drive shaft is connected to the transmission at one end and the differential at the other. In between, a few suspension components can break or become damaged. For example, the control or trailing arms can break, causing the drive shaft to become misaligned.
Additionally, if the vehicle has been in a collision, the drive shaft may have been damaged from impact, resulting in misalignment. Drive shaft misalignment can also be caused by excessive loads on the drive shaft (when towing a trailer or carrying a heavy load). The excessive loads can cause the drive shaft to bend or twist, resulting in misalignment.
Signs of Drive Shaft Misalignment
There are a few signs that you can look for to see if your drive shaft is misaligned. One common sign is vibrations coming from the drive shaft or rear of the vehicle. The vibrations are caused by the drive shaft being out of balance.
Another common sign is premature wear on suspension components or U-joints. As mentioned earlier, the drive shaft is connected to the suspension at various points. If the drive shaft is misaligned, it stresses the suspension components unnecessarily, causing them to wear out prematurely.
Another sign of drive shaft misalignment is a clicking noise coming from the rear of the vehicle. The noise is caused by the driveshaft hitting against the floor pan or exhaust system.
How Does an Expert Fix Misalignment?
There are a few ways to fix drive shaft misalignment. One common method is to replace the U-joints. This is a fairly straightforward repair that most savvy car owners can do. However, if the problem is due to a broken or damaged suspension component, it will be more difficult to fix and will likely require the help of a professional.
The whole system will need to be replaced if you have a bent or twisted drive shaft. This is also a more complicated repair that should be done by a professional. Afterward, your auto repair expert can install a drive shaft loop. This is a device that attaches to the drive shaft and helps keep it in place, preventing misalignment in the future.