Causes of Driveline Vibrations

Written by Godfrey on . Posted in Blog

Vibrations in your truck’s driveline can be relatively minor issues, or they can be major problems with vital components. If you notice a vibration in your truck’s driveline, here are some potential causes of the irregularity.

An Out-of-Sync Peripheral Part

The driveline transmits power to the axles, which ultimately deliver power to the wheels. The axles, the wheels, and all the parts between them are designed to rotate as the driveline does, keeping in sync with it so that every rotation of the driveline generates one rotation of each wheel.

Those peripheral parts that the driveline powers can cause a vibration if they get out of sync with the driveline itself. When this happens, the part still rotates with the driveline but it does so with a slightly different timing. The result is a vibration that has one vibration per rotation of the driveline.

An Out-of-Balance Peripheral Part

Sometimes, peripheral parts don’t get out of sync but end up being out of balance. This, too, can cause a vibration. The symptom is the same — one vibration per rotation of the driveline — because the parts are still turning with the driveline.

A Bent Axle

Axles themselves can get bent, especially if you drive over a major bump at high speed or are in a collision. A bent axle will still rotate if it’s connected to the driveline, but the bend in the axle will create a vibration that resonates up the driveline. Again, this vibration is characterized by one vibration per rotation of the driveline because the driveline and axle rotate at the same speed.

An Out-of-Balance Driveline

If you notice one vibration per rotation of the driveline and no peripheral components have malfunctioned, the problem may lie with the driveline itself. If a driveline is out of balance, it can still work but will cause a single vibration every time it completes a full revolution.

A driveline balance issue may not be noticeable at low speeds when the driveline turns relatively slowly. As you accelerate and the driveline turns faster and faster, though, the vibration will get more noticeable and worse.

A Misaligned Driveline

If the driveline is misaligned, you’ll notice it as you drive. A driveline that’s not angled properly will result in a substantial vibration, and you’ll feel the vibration at all speeds (as opposed to a balance issue that’s only noticeable at high speeds). Additionally, the vibration will be equal with the driveline’s rotation since the problem lies in the driveline itself.

A Failing U-Joint

A universal joint (U-joint) is in all-wheel-drive vehicles. The joints come in pairs, and they connect the driveline to the rear axle. Their purpose is to adjust for the height difference between the transmission and rear axle.

As a U-joint fails, it can cause a vibration that works its way up the connected driveline. The vibration is a faster vibration than that caused by a peripheral part that spins slower, and you may have more than one vibration per turn of the driveline. The issue often has other symptoms, such as:

  • A squeak that occurs when first moving
  • A clunk that occurs when shifting into reverse
  • A transmission fluid leak near the back of the transmission

If you don’t promptly fix the issue, the U-joint can fail completely and render the vehicle inoperable.

This is an especially common issue in trucks because many are rear-wheel drive.

Because you can’t usually tell from a vibration alone what the issue causing the vibration is, a mechanic should promptly check any vibration in your truck’s driveline. To check your truck’s driveline, contact Godfrey Brake Service.


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