The multitude of components that make up a heavy-duty truck can be intimidating — even for seasoned experts. While most operators possess at least a passing familiarity with the principal components, more specialized ones often go overlooked. Unfortunately, this can lead to the formation of expensive and time consuming problems.
For that reason, drivers should be encouraged to take a proactive approach to understanding your truck and its various parts. This makes it easier to spot potential issues before they result in a full-blown crisis. This article will help to improve your knowledge of key truck parts by providing a useful introduction to the component known as the driveline.
A truck’s driveline — also sometimes referred to as the drivetrain or drive shaft — acts to transmit torque from the transmission to the axles. Without the driveline, a truck would be unable to deliver power from the motor to the wheels, and thus unable to move. In addition, the driveline must be capable of doing so at a variety of different speeds and angles relative to the axles.
The drivetrain must also be designed in such a way that it can compensate for any changes in length that may occur as the result of height differentials between the front and the rear of the vehicle. In order to meet all of these requirements, a driveline must contain a number of secondary parts, from end yokes, to tube yokes, to U-joints, to bearing plates.
The complex construction of a driveline means that there are a lot of things that can go wrong over time. Drivelines are constantly being exposed to vastly different forces, twisting, pulling, and pushing them in all directions. Over time, this sort of wear and tear means that parts can work loose or simply wear out.
The location of the driveline on the underside of a vehicle only increases its susceptibility to damage. The driveline will be routinely exposed to water, roadway de-icing salts, and other corrosive elements — not to mention sand, rocks, and other types of roadway debris. These things can cause damage and stress for the components of even the most heavy duty driveline.
The rate of driveline issues has increased in recent years, thanks to the popularity of what are known as downsped powertrains. Downspeeding, in general, refers to the practice of speeding up the rear gear ratio in order to allow the engine speed to go down. Estimates claim that fuel economy may improve by as much as 1% for every 100rpm slower a truck’s engine runs.
For this reason, many operators have begun to implement down speeding, in an effort to reduce their fuel costs.
Unfortunately, this practice increases the amount of torque and stress being placed on the driveline, thus increasing the rate of blowouts and other problems. Unless your truck has been equipped with a fortified driveline, the practice of downspeeding may end up costing you more than it saves.
Symptoms of Trouble
Knowing how to recognize driveline issues represents a key skill for all truck operators. Perhaps the most frequent sign of driveline trouble involves an increased sensation of vibration. You may notice that parts of your truck suffer from such vibrations — or the entire thing. Unless you attend to the issue, such vibrations will tend to grow worse as time goes on.
You may also notice that your driveline has begun to make odd or alarming sounds. Low squeaks and squeals are among the most commonly encountered sounds. These tend to grow louder and more pronounced as your truck picks up speed.
If you have noticed your truck displaying symptoms like these, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Godfrey Brake Service & Supply for a professional consultation.