Types of Driveshaft Vibrations

Types of Driveshaft Vibrations

The types of driveshaft vibrations can be broken into four categories. As we talk about each of these driveline vibration types, we will also want to note driveline failures that could occur. Understanding where these problems start will help you remedy a situation swiftly before too much damage is done. Attempting to push your vehicle at the first sign of vibrations can leave you and your car or truck in much worse shape. Take these indications seriously before doing further damage to other components of your driveline, rendering your vehicle in bad condition.


Some of the most common causes of vibrations in the driveline are slip splines or U-joints being worn, components that are out of balance, misaligned angles or out of phase yokes, getting close to the critical speed range, or yoke ears that are not coordinated with the splines. It can be difficult to determine whether vibrations are coming from the driveshaft or from somewhere else. Understanding the different types of vibrations will help you to accurately diagnose the issue and correct it quickly. You want to avoid damage as much as possible to the driveline components.


Transverse vibrations are caused by an imbalance. Driveshafts are often neglected when it comes to inspecting for missing balance weights during servicing. Though the driveshaft is heavier and rotates faster than a tire, we typically remember to balance our tires long before we even consider the driveline. Transverse vibration happens once per revolution and always occurs at the driveshaft speed.

Failing to take precautionary steps to avoid transverse vibrations could cause major issues. Occurrences often happen due to damage to the shaft, weights that are missing, or a foreign material getting stuck to the shaft. Take balancing seriously when it comes to such an integral and heavy-duty piece of machinery.

Component Failure

There are many driveline components working together to keep everything running smoothly. Some of the most common causes of failure and vibrations result from issues with these key components. Additionally, a lack of grease or damage to driveshaft tubing are both factors that could cause driveshafts to vibrate and components to wear out. The driveshaft should always be balanced after replacing components. Otherwise, it’ll lead right back to traverse vibrations.

Shock Load

When a sudden force is applied to a driveline component, the result is a shock load. A shock load is the most common reason for a failure occurring. It can happen when driving in extremely cold temperatures, driving into an object, tire quickly regaining grip after slipping on ice, suddenly pulling an object that is immovable, or popping the clutch at RPMs that are higher than usual.

Excessive Torque Load

This occurs during prolonged force that is being applied against a component of the driveline. It is also often referred to as “torsional fatigue”. Pulling a load that’s heavier than recommended for a specific vehicle can result in excessive torque load.

Improper Application

Improper application can occur if the driveline components that have been installed are not in line with the vehicle’s purpose of specs.

Surface Fatigue

Also known as contact fatigue, surface fatigue is a general term for a few different types of damage. This can become evident on the load-bearing surface of the brinelling, spalling, or galling driveline components.

Critical Speed

If a driveshaft is rotating too fast for its length, critical speed occurs. Regardless of the length or mass, every driveshaft has a critical speed. The shorter the driveshaft, the higher the critical speed. The driveshaft will start to bend off of its typical rotating centerline. With bending, the driveshaft will shorten, which may result in it slipping or dropping to the floor or ground. It will also start to whip around. If it whips far enough, a fracture will occur in the middle of the tube.

The driveshaft will always fail if it runs at the critical speed, causing catastrophic damage. Once a driveshaft is bent, or its tube fractured, replacing it with a new one with the same may fail. Consult the experts at DriveShaft of Tulsa before making a decision on getting a replacement. We can also calculate the critical speed of any of our driveshafts. We repair or build driveshafts made to order to ensure that the driveshafts installed do not fail due to critical speed and that they are appropriate lengthened.

Being able to identify the types of driveshaft vibrations will help you avoid further damage to your vehicle. Most of the vibrations occur due to overworking the vehicle—whether through gaining too much speed too quickly, slamming into or trying to tow immovable objects, or overloading your vehicle after failing to understand its limitations. Be sure that if vibrations occur, you are addressing the problems immediately, as you now see that pushing those boundaries can have disastrous results.

Our trained professionals at DriveShaft of Tulsa specialize not only in repairing and building custom driveshafts, but also in being able to identify and remedy issues. We also supply driveline components that may need replacing. There is a lot of knowledge, and if at any time you feel as though an issue is confusing or that you’re having trouble specifying an issue, you should consult a professional before doing anything. DriveShaft of Tulsa takes pride in being able to provide rapid service to repair your driveshaft and get you back in motion sooner.

Types of Driveshaft Vibrations