Aluminum vs. Steel Driveshafts

Aluminum vs. Steel Driveshafts

A driveshaft is one of the most vital pieces of equipment when it comes to your car. It transfers power from your vehicle’s transmission to the differential in the rear of the car. The power sent to that differential is then used to power the rear tires; without that driveshaft transferring power, your rear wheels would be largely useless.

While most standard driveshafts are made from steel, they can come in several other different materials; each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. That is why you need to know the difference between aluminum vs. steel driveshafts and which one will best optimize your vehicle’s performance if you are looking to customize your vehicle.

Steel Driveshafts

The most common type of driveshaft that you will find, and what your car most likely has when you first purchase it, is a shaft made from steel.

The Advantages

Because they are so common among car manufactures, a steel driveshaft is relatively inexpensive to purchase compared to other materials. But while they are the most inexpensive option open to you, that does not mean that they are without quality. Steel shafts can still effectively dampen noises and vibrations while you are driving and are durable enough to stand up to some punishment. While they are stock and factory standard, that does not mean they can’t get the job done.

The Disadvantages

The biggest drawback to a driveshaft that is made from steel is its weight; they are considerably heavier than other materials, which, while giving the shaft its durability, means that it adds greater weight to your vehicle. This extra weight tends to put more of a strain on your car’s engine, making it work harder in order to turn the shaft.

Steel Variations

There are a few popular varieties of steel shafts. The first is Chromoly, which is still heavy but is better at standing up to high speeds. There are also seam tube driveshafts, which are very inexpensive but are also weaker than the other variants. 

Aluminum Driveshafts

As something that you will typically find in a vehicle with aftermarket upgrades, an aluminum shaft offers improvements upon steel ones, but at the cost of other aspects.

The Advantages

With aluminum shafts, there are generally two benefits that they have over steel that drivers are looking for. The first of those advantages is a greatly reduced weight. Typically, switching to an aluminum shaft will mean reducing the weight by anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds. This decrease in weight benefits the engine as well, as weight is magnified when it needs to rotate, just as driveshafts do. The less weight that needs to be rotated, the easier it is on your engine.

The second biggest advantage that is appealing to consumers is aluminum’s ability to stand up to harsher weather conditions better than steel. Specifically, drivers in environments that are snowy often switch to aluminum driveshafts. The reason for this is because aluminum is resistant to rust, unlike steel. This gives it greater longevity in conditions that would otherwise wear out and rust steel driveshafts. It should be noted that while aluminum is immune to rust, it still corrodes and should be routinely inspected.

The Disadvantages

While aluminum comes with the benefit of reduced weight, that also means that it is a weaker metal compared to steel. The likelihood of breakages with aluminum shafts is far greater, but when aluminum breaks, it shears. This creates dangerous, sharp edges that can pose a threat to the internal components of your vehicle, as well as to you.

The other downside to aluminum shafts is that they do not reduce the amount of vibration or noise. This will result in drives that are not as comfortable and can even be distracting to drivers.

Best for Your Use

After having considered the differences between aluminum vs. steel driveshafts, you need to know which type of driveshaft is the most ideal for your average vehicle use. For regular, everyday use, you may want to consider steel. If the environment you live in is prone to rusting out your vehicle, then aluminum may be the way to go.

No matter what route you decide to go, you can contact Drive Shafts of Tulsa to help you select the best driveshaft for your vehicle. Automotive professionals can offer their expertise with their selection of driveshaft replacement parts that they can tailor to your individual needs.

Aluminum vs. Steel Driveshafts