The Average Cost for a Drive Shaft Replacement is $300-$1,500, Depending On if You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles and does not factor in taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. For a more accurate estimate based on your make, model, and location, check out the FIXD Sensor and app! Not only does FIXD give repair estimates, but it also tells you what your check engine light means and the cost to repair, tracks your maintenance schedule, and much more.
Cost at the Mechanic: $400-$1,500
- Parts: $300-$1,300
- Labor: $100-$200
It takes about an hour for a mechanic to replace a drive shaft. If a vehicle has multiple drive shafts, the cost goes up depending on how many have to be replaced. However, it is usually possible to replace only the drive shaft that has failed.
Cost to DIY: $300-$1,300
- Difficulty Level: Beginner
- Parts Needed:
You can save some money if you replace your car’s drive shaft yourself. Replacing a drive shaft can be a fairly easy task if you have some mechanical knowledge. It will take anywhere from one to two hours, since you probably don’t have access to a lift and other tools a mechanic has available to make the job faster and easier. Read this step-by-step guide on how to replace a drive shaft in your own garage.
Keep in mind that need to choose the exact replacement drive shaft for your particular vehicle, which will affect the cost. If you’re not sure what parts to choose, refer to your owner’s or repair manual.
What Is a Drive Shaft?
The drive shaft transferring rotation from the output shaft of the transmission to the wheels. While it’s uncommon for the entire drive shaft to wear out, it’s not unusual for its bearings and joints to wear out. It’s usually easier to replace the whole drive shaft rather than individual bearings or joints.
What Does a Drive Shaft Replacement Include?
The exact nature of this job depends on whether your vehicle is front, rear, all, or four-wheel drive. Generally speaking, drive shaft replacement involves disconnecting the shaft from the car at both ends, removing it, and replacing it with a new one.
Front Wheel Drive
On a front-wheel drive car, there are two drive shafts, one for each front wheel, that connect directly to the transmission. These are a special kind of drive shaft known as CV axles. These drive shafts have special joints that enable the ends of the axles to turn left and right along with the front wheels as you steer the car.
To remove the drive shaft from the wheel hub, it’s usually necessary to disconnect part of the front suspension. This allows the axle to be removed from the wheel hub. The CV axle typically bolts or clips into the transmission on its inner end.
Rear Wheel Drive
The drive shaft between the transmission and the rear differential is the easiest one to remove. Simply unbolt the drive shaft from the differential, then slide it out of the transmission. Be sure to have a drain pan handy to catch the small amount of transmission fluid that may spill.
Rear wheel drive vehicles send power from the differential to the wheels either through a live axle, which is one large integrated unit, or through drive shafts similar to CV axles on vehicles with independent suspension. The process of replacing these drive shafts is similar to front-wheel drive cars.
All Wheel Drive / Four Wheel Drive
This is a combination of front and rear-wheel drive procedures. The only difference is the addition of a component between the front and rear of the vehicle to distribute power to both ends.
All-wheel drive is typically used in crossovers, SUVs, and some sedans. These use a center differential that intelligently divides power between the front and rear wheels depending on traction conditions. The center drive shaft attaches to this instead of directly to the transmission as in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
Four-wheel drive is for heavy-duty use on trucks, Jeeps, and other off-road vehicles. It uses a transfer case that can completely disconnect the front wheels for street driving, or mechanically lock the front and back wheels together for superior off-road traction. The center drive shaft connects the transfer case to the rear differential.
Read this article for a more detailed comparison between an AWD and a 4WD.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace a Failing Drive Shaft?
The first sign that a drive shaft is failing is a noise or vibration from that area of the vehicle. The noise will get louder, or the vibration will get worse, the faster you drive. If you ignore these signs, the noise and vibration will get worse over time. Eventually, the CV or universal joint will fail completely, breaking the drive shaft in two. This may prevent your vehicle from moving at all, and will likely cause additional damage from the broken parts smashing other components under your car as they continue to rotate.
How Often to Replace a Drive Shaft
There isn’t a set schedule for how often you should get a drive shaft replacement. However, you should replace it as soon as you notice any of the signs described above indicating that it needs repair. Most drive shafts last at least 75,000 miles, but it’s possible for them to wear out faster.
Keeping up with routine maintenance can help your vehicle perform at its best. Always check your owner’s manual for a vehicle-specific schedule. To help beginners with their first DIY repairs, we’ve compiled our top car maintenance tips here.
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Common Symptoms You Need a Drive Shaft Replacement
Symptoms it’s time to have a drive shaft replacement:
- Vibrations when driving
- Clunking noise underneath the vehicle
- Squeaking noises
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