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How Long Can You Drive With a Bad Drive Shaft

February 11, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

The Drive Shaft is a crucial component of your car’s drivetrain that transmit power from your engine to your wheels.

When the shaft goes bad, it is often accompanied by reduced performance, unusual vibrations, clunking noise when switching gears, and difficulty turning the steering before it finally gets damaged.

However, some car owners may want to know how long they can keep driving with a bad drive shaft before taking it for repairs.

In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms of a bad drive shaft and the effect of driving with one.


What is a Drive Shaft?

The driveshaft is a rotating tube-like component that connects the transmission to the differential, transmitting torque from the engine to the wheels. It is commonly found in rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.

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In simpler terms, the driveshaft transfers power from the engine to the wheels, enabling your vehicle to move.

Symptoms of a Bad Driveshaft

There are a few symptoms associated with a faulty driveshaft, and they are:

  1. Vibrations
  2. Clunking noises
  3. Uneven Tire Wear
  4. Difficulty in Handling Steering
  5. Loss of Power


You may notice excessive vibrations, especially when driving at a higher speed. This often implies that there’s a misalignment in the driveshaft.

Clunking Noises

If you notice clunky noise when shifting between gears, you should have your driveshaft checked. Also, you may hear knocking sounds from underneath the vehicle while driving at high speed.

Uneven tire wears

If you continue driving on a faulty driveshaft, the force may exert on the tires causing faster wear-outs and alignment issues.

Difficulty in Handling Steering

If your vehicle is becoming challenging to steer, the problem could be from your drive shaft.

Loss of Power to the Wheels

The main task of the driveshaft is to transfer power from the engine to the wheels; once it breaks, there’ll be a loss of control of the wheels. Your engine will start, but you can’t move the car.

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How Long can you Drive With a Bad Drive Shaft?

It’s not advised to drive with a faulty driveshaft because it may disappoint you when you need it the most.

Once you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s required that you take immediate action. Although, most drivers ignore these signs and proceed to drive on the highway.

Doing this is high-risk because I’ve seen a case where someone was driving at full speed with a lousy driveshaft, and the shaft broke and hit a passerby – Luckily, it only grazed him.

Aside from this, if the drive shaft fails on the highway, you’ll be stranded on the road, and the car will also require a towing truck service.

Also, a bad drive shaft may cause damage to components such as the transmission, differential, or bearings. This can lead to costly repairs or even the need for a complete system change.

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Given the dangers that could result from a damaged driveshaft, it’s critical to fix the issue immediately. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may be able to drive for a specific amount of time with a damaged driveshaft. Still, it is typically advised that you stop moving as soon as any warning signs appear.


Is it safe to drive with a failing drive shaft?

No, driving with a bad or failing drive shaft is not advisable because it increases the chances of causing an accident or may leave you stranded.

What happens if you don’t fix your drive shaft?

Failure to fix a faulty drive shaft will put excessive strain on other drivetrain components, such as the transmission, differential, or wheel bearings.

What happens when your drive shaft is going out?

One of the common symptoms to watch out for when your drive shaft is going off is constant vibration and clunking noise from underneath your car.

What does a failing drive shaft sound like?

A failing drive shaft is often accompanied by a loud clunking noise when changing between gears or driving at a very high speed.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.