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What Is a Front Drive Shaft?

Published by: Edison
Date of Publish:

Maintaining your vehicle by carefully looking after all its components doesn’t only increase its parts lifespan but also gives you a better driving experience for a longer span of time. Like anything else in your car’s drive train, drive shafts also carry significant importance for their role. Compromising the health of the drive shafts in your car by ignoring their failure symptoms will halt the overall performance and drivability.

But in order to take good care of your drive shaft, you will have to first understand how does your front drive shaft work? What are the main components of a drive shaft? And What are the symptoms of a bad drive shaft? After reading this article, you shall be able to answer all of the above questions.

What Is Front Drive Shaft?

A front drive shaft connects the transmission to the front wheels of an automobile and is used to transmit power from the transmission.

The front drive shaft is attached by a bolt that goes through the differential, allowing the front axle to turn independently from the rest of the car.

When you control steering, the steering wheel connected via a steering column is mounted on the front of your vehicle and then connected directly to the spindles which are attached to your tires via your tie rods.

How does the front drive shaft work?

 The front drive shaft is a major component of your vehicle's driveline. The front drive shaft transfers engine torque from the transmission to the front wheels, allowing you to move your vehicle forward and backward.

When you step on the gas pedal, the engine produces a torque that is transferred through the transmission to the output shaft of the transmission. The output shaft connects to the rear differential and driveshaft by means of universal joints.

The rear differential then splits this torque between the left and right drive shafts that connect to your front differential.

The front differential takes this power and distributes it evenly between each wheel. It does this by using gears in its center section called spider gears that have teeth that mesh with a ring gear mounted on its outside diameter.

The spider gears are connected by pinions at their center points, which are rotated by a helical gear set inside of them that allows them to spin at different speeds relative to one another while transferring power equally between them with each revolution.

What are the Main Components of A Front Drive Shaft?

These are some of the main components of a front drive shaft.


U-joints are used to connect two shafts at an angle. These joints are designed to transmit and transfer torque (rotational force) even though the two shafts they connect may be at a different angle. U-joints can be made of many materials and in several different configurations, but they all have the same basic shape: two half-sections joined by a sleeve or hub.


A yoke is the part of a drive shaft that connects to the rear axle. It's made of cast iron, and it has a spline on it that allows it to connect with your vehicle's differential and drive shaft. The yoke is connected to the axle (and therefore, your vehicle) with a nut, while its connection with the drive shaft is held in place by a bolt.

Center Support Bearing

The center support bearing is the main bearing in the drive shaft. It supports the entire weight of the vehicle and it's very important to keep it in good condition.

The center support bearing is a tapered roller bearing that's made up of two parts: a steel shell, which holds all of the rollers and seals (and looks like an upside-down umbrella), and a steel cage (also called an inner race). The stationary part of this cage has three openings for grease to pass through so that you can lubricate your drive shaft. The rotating part of this cage is what holds all those rollers together so they don't fall out when your car tilts forward or backward at high speeds.

Slip Yokes

Slip yokes are used to allow the drive shaft to rotate at different speeds. Slip yokes are found on both front and rear drive shafts. When a vehicle has a single-speed transmission, it's important that the axle shaft rotates at a speed different than the transmission output shaft, so there is no rubbing between them. A slip yoke allows for this difference in rotation by allowing one end of your axle to spin freely while keeping the other end connected to its gear inside your transmission.

What Happens If the Front Drive Shaft Breaks?

Like any other component of your vehicle, front drive shafts also come with a lifespan and are equally prone to failure. However, as compared to other parts of your car’s drive train, drive shafts are very less likely to break in a close time as their average lifespan is equal to 70,000 miles.  Nevertheless, as a car owner or driver you should know the aftermath of the failure of front drive shaft. Typically speaking, when a drive shaft breaks, the vehicle is slowed down gradually before reducing to rest. Your wheels won’t turn now no matter what you do as the turning system is jammed. Regular inspection of your drive shafts and maintenance will make sure your vehicle doesn’t experience such dangerous experiences.

How Much Does a Front Drive Shaft Cost?

Replacing a front drive shaft is expensive, and it can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,200 depending on your vehicle.

The cost of a front drive shaft will vary depending on the condition of your vehicle. If you're driving a newer car that has a front-wheel drive system and uses an independent suspension, it'll be more expensive than if you have an older car with rear-wheel drive and leaf springs.

The front drive shaft is also made up of several components, including the joint that connects to the transmission and differential (if your vehicle has one), so this could also affect its price tag.

How Do You Replace a Front Drive Shaft?

If you have a front driveshaft that's damaged, you'll want to replace it—and fast. Here's how you replace a front drive shaft:

  • Remove the front wheels.
  • Remove the front drive shaft.
  • Install the new front drive shaft, being careful to align it correctly with its mounting bracket and other components (such as your suspension).
  • Reinstall the wheels, checking for proper alignment and tire wear before driving off again

How Can I Tell If My Front Drive Shaft Is Bad?

To check for signs of damage, look for any cracks or discoloration in the rubber covering. You can also place an ear to the drive shaft and listen for a clunking sound when turning.

If there is no leak, you may find that your car's steering wheel starts to feel loose or wobbly, or that you hear a grinding noise while turning.

To check for signs of wear and corrosion, look at the metal surface of your front drive shaft; if it has been worn down significantly enough then it may be time to replace it.

Can I Drive a Car with A Broken Front Drive Shaft?

To begin with, it is never recommended to drive your vehicle with a broken drive shaft as it is never an ideal scenario for your car to on the road. However, if you can’t do much except moving from one place to another with a broken drive shaft, here are the three possible scenarios that can follow:  

  • The first possibility is that you might lose the control over your car axle as your drive shafts will snap.
  • The second possibility is that you might experience a ground blockage of your car as a result of dislocation of your car’s front drive shafts and falling and obstructing the motion.
  • The third and the most dangerous possibility is that your drive shaft will disconnect from one end while continuing to spin and cause a massive damage to your car’s spare parts underneath.

Will A Bad Front Drive Shaft Cause Problems with The Transmission?

A bad front drive shaft will cause problems with your transmission. A front drive shaft that is not aligned properly can also cause issues with the transmission.

If a front drive shaft breaks, this could obviously create more serious problems, including damage to other components of the vehicle. Worn and damaged parts may require replacement if they cannot be repaired in order to ensure safe operation of your car or truck.

How Often Should a Front Drive Shaft Be Replaced?

The short answer is that it depends. Front drive shafts are fairly durable and can last for years, even with regular use.

However, they can wear out over time if you have been driving on rough roads or in conditions that cause your car to vibrate excessively (e.g., when you're hauling heavy cargo or towing a trailer).

If at any point you notice any of these symptoms in your front drive shaft:

  • Vibration while driving at highway speeds
  • A clicking sound coming from the front end when turning or braking sharply
  • Rattles or clunking noises under acceleration


Front drive shafts are a critical part of your vehicle. They connect the engine to the transmission and allow for the smooth operation of all systems in your car or truck. By keeping them in good shape and regularly changing them out when needed you can keep your vehicle on the road for many years!

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