What Happens When Your Drive Shaft Breaks While Driving?

Video what happens if my drive shaft breaks while driving


If you’re like most drivers, you probably don’t give much thought to your car’s drive shaft. However, if it breaks while you’re driving, it could lead to serious consequences. In this article, we will discuss what happens when your drive shaft breaks and how to handle the situation.

Understanding the Drive Shaft

A drive shaft is a crucial component in an automobile’s driveline, connecting the transmission and transfer case in four-wheel drives. It carries the engine’s torque to the rest of the drive train, enabling your car to move. Essentially, it is a long metal pole that rotates on bearings. Drive shafts can vary in length depending on factors such as performance needs and space availability inside the vehicle’s frame.

Common Causes of Drive Shaft Failure

The most common cause of drive shaft failure is age. Driveshafts made before 2000 lacked the hardening and protective coatings found in modern ones. Accidents can also lead to drive shaft failures. Rear wheel impacts, such as backing into something or hitting a curb, can cause the drive shaft to break. Additionally, certain types of drive shafts used in trucks and SUVs are susceptible to corrosion from road salt, leading to failure.

Signs of a Failing Drive Shaft

One of the common indicators of a failing drive shaft is a loud “clunk” when shifting gears. This noise usually results from worn or damaged U-joints. Grinding or growling sounds during gear changes can also signify interior transmission problems or damaged U-joints. A bulge or crack near one of the universal joints is another sign of a failing drive shaft.

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Consequences of a Broken Drive Shaft

When your drive shaft breaks while driving, you could experience a loss of control over your vehicle. The torque reaction resulting from the broken drive train can cause the rear axle to move violently, leading to an uncontrollable situation. Furthermore, if the rear axle hits something while moving upwards, your car may roll over or collide with other vehicles, posing significant danger to you and others on the road.

How to Handle a Drive Shaft Break While Driving

If your drive shaft breaks while driving, it’s crucial to take immediate action. Safely pull over and get your vehicle out of traffic as quickly as possible. If you are unable to maintain control of your car, turn off the engine to prevent further damage. Remember to have your drive shaft inspected regularly to avoid future incidents.

Preventing Drive Shaft Damage

Regular inspections are key to preventing drive shaft damage. By addressing any potential issues early on, you can save yourself time, money, and trouble. In the event of a drive shaft break, follow the aforementioned tips to minimize the extent of the damage caused.


  • How much does a drive shaft replacement cost? The cost typically ranges from $200 to $800, depending on the vehicle.
  • What causes drive shaft damage? Drive shaft damage can result from various factors, such as pothole impacts or running over objects on the road. Regular inspections are essential to avoid problems.
  • Can I repair a drive shaft? Repairing a drive shaft is possible in certain cases. Consult with a mechanic to determine if this is a viable option for you.
  • Can I repair a drive shaft myself? It is not recommended to repair a drive shaft yourself, as it requires specialized knowledge and tools. Leave this job to professionals.
  • How often should you replace your drive shaft? Replacement intervals typically range from 50,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the vehicle. Regular inspections are crucial to prevent issues.
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When your drive shaft breaks while driving, it can have severe consequences for your safety, other drivers, and your vehicle. To avoid such incidents, make sure to have your drive shaft inspected regularly and maintain all moving parts in good condition. Stay safe on the roads!

Check out similar articles on the 5 WS website:

  • Can a Bad CV Joint Affect the Transmission?
  • Can a Broken Axle Damage a Transmission?
  • Symptoms of a Bad Transfer Case Control Module
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