A drive shaft should be extremely strong to transmit the engine’s torque well enough to make the necessary revolution (power) to the wheels. A drive shaft is typically made up of steel. To make it lighter and non-corrosive, some car manufacturers use a composite material such as aluminum and other alloys.
In this article, we will show you how to remove a drive shaft from your car so that you can do the necessary maintenance. But first, some info about drive shaft that you don’t probably know, read on!
What is a drive shaft?
Typically, a drive shaft (also called Cardan shaft, propeller shaft, or driving shaft) is a mechanical element of your car that transmits the rotary motion of the engine known as torque. The drive shaft is connected to other components of the transmission drive (or drive train) that transmit rotation to your car’s wheels.
Driveshafts need to be maintained regularly as this component is always subjected to stress and wear and tear, like any other parts of the drive train. Proper maintenance of the drive shaft will allow your car to run smoothly, with less or no vibration at all, and quietly.
What are the types of drive shafts?
There are three types of drive shafts, and these are some of the brands that use them:
- Front-engine (rear-wheel drive) drive shaft
This design is most common from early car models. But this drive shaft design is still dominant in current pick-up trucks and other SUV models (such as Mazda MX-5 Miata, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 350Z, Honda S2000, Ford Crown Victoria, and many others).
- Front-wheel drive shaft
There are more sedans that use this type, such as Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, Nissan Altima, and Chrysler 200, to name just a few.
- Four-wheel drive shaft (4WD)
This type is more common in Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover, Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota 4Runner TRD, Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Land Cruiser, and among other 4WD vehicles.
What will you need to remove a drive shaft?
- Safety glasses
- Safety gloves
- Jack lift
- Jack stands
- Socket wrench
- Plastic or wooden hammer
- Wooden wedges
- Electrical tape
- Power drill
- Fluid catch basin
Removing the drive shaft and re-installing it
Before you do this activity, be sure that you are wearing your safety glasses and gloves. Also, make sure your work area is clean of debris. Remember also that once you removed the drive shaft, the car will lose its capacity to park and it will roll over if you do not have safety measures on hand.
To protect the car from rolling over, secure the wheels by placing wooden wedges on both sides of the wheel. Also, disconnect the car battery’s cable before you start working. This will prevent possible electrical short circuit while you are doing this activity.
- Lifting your car
Securing the two front wheels of your car, and by using a jack, lift the car and place the jack stand to the secure part of the car (the perfect tool for this job is the Powerline 3-ton Steel Jack Stand, made by Milestone Tools and comes in pair. This product is easily available from Amazon). Be sure that you have enough space on the bottom of the car to move your body freely.
- Marking the potition of the drive shaft
Using a marker, mark the drive shaft’s original orientation to allow you to return the shaft to its original position when re-installing the drive shaft after the maintenance.
- Taking out the bolts
After marking, use a power drill in reverse with a mounting socket that fits the head of the bolts. Be sure to use a very good set of tools because the bolts are typically very tight as they are treated with lock tight. You can also apply lock tight when reinstalling the drive shaft.
- Removing the drive shaft from the flange
By lightly striking repeatedly the differential flange’s rear yoke (universal-joint mount) by a plastic hammer, the drive shaft should be loosened. This will allow for an easy disconnection of the drive shaft. When the half shaft is disconnected from the yoke, the center support mounting bolts must be dismounted (some car models have this center support).
- Dismounting the center support
Old model cars have universal joint cups, this should be taped so as not to dismembered the cup needle bearings. Then, loosen the mounting bolts on the clamp supporting the central part of the drive shaft by using the power drill with the corresponding socket.
- Removing the drive shaft
After dismounting the center support, slowly dislodge the drive shaft from the transmission case. There is a possibility that some fluid will leak out, better to catch it with your basin. At this point, you can perform the necessary maintenance by checking the universal joints, or if the transmission or differential system needs repair or the tail housing seal of the transmission system (you might replace this if it has a leak).
A good replacement for a housing seal is the one from Precision Automotive’s Precision 4333N Seal. Available from Amazon. This has various applications if it fits your car, check your manual.
- Checking the Universal joints
This is also the best chance for you to check and inspect the U-joints (Universal-joints) at both ends of the shaft. Hold firmly the yoke and rotate it in both directions. The motion should be even and no lumps. If you find that the surface is dull and hard to rotate, the u-joints have to be replaced.
A better alternative for a heavy-duty u-joint is the EPAuto Impact Universal Joint Set from Amazon. This is a chrome vanadium steel alloy that is corrosion-free and yet highly durable and comes in a set of 3.
- Re-installing the drive shaft
Before you re-install the newly maintained drive shaft, apply high-heat resistant grease to the yoke.This will lubricate the system, especially the output shaft seal in the transfer case. You must be careful when reinserting the yoke of the drive shaft to avoid damaging the seal.
- Re-installing the flange and the bolts
When the front yoke is mounted, set the drive shaft back into its original position and re-install its bolts. But first, apply a small amount of sealant to the bolts’ thread to make them vibration-free. Make sure that the flange aligns to the mark you had made before.
Tighten the bolts in a factory setting (usually 55-65 ft-lb of torque). When all is A-okay, you can add fluid if a substantial amount is leaked. Then, you can bring your car down and have it check by turning on the engine.
If you want to replace your drive shaft, try this one from CRS: CRS N95142 New Prop shaft/ Drive Shaft Assembly, Front, 24 1/4" long. This is an improved design from CRS and just weighs 18.3lbs. Just check it out if it fits your car. Available easily from Amazon.
Did you enjoy this tutorial? It is better for you to know what type of drive shaft your car has. Even though your manual will tell you so, it is best that you find some information from sources like this article. If you really want to how to remove a drive shaft for maintenance, it is good for you.
But still, you must seek the advice of your most trusted mechanics before you do anything to your car. Your car is a very good investment and it needs proper care and maintenance. This maintenance activity will surely save you a lot.
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