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What are the Types of Steel Drive Shafts?

Updated February 21, 2017

Driveshafts, also called propeller shafts, are a very important part of a vehicle's engine system. They are essentially hollow tubes which connect the transmission output shaft to the differential pinion shaft. The vast majority of driveshafts are made from steel, including those for racing vehicles, motor homes, trucks, four-by-four vehicles and replacement parts. Different kinds of steel are used on various types of driveshafts.

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OEM Steel Drive Shafts

OEM steel driveshafts are rated for less heavy-duty service than other types of steel driveshafts. Usually they can handle about 159 Kilogram per foot, or about 350 to 400 horsepower. This is the lowest performance level for steel driveshafts.

DOM Steel Drive Shafts

DOM steel driveshafts, stronger than OEM driveshafts, usually can handle about 590 Kilogram per square foot of pressure, which is comparable to about 1,000 to 1,300 horsepower. If your car does not require a lightweight unit, a DOM steel driveshaft is an excellent choice.

Chrome-Moly Steel Drive Shafts

Chrome-moly steel driveshafts are the strongest possible type of steel driveshaft. You will find this type of steel driveshaft in Pro Stock-style racing cars. Chrome-moly steel can be strengthened even further if it is heat-treated. Heat treatment will raise the torsional strength about 22 per cent and raise the drive train's critical, or maximum, speed by about 19 per cent.

CV Steel Drive Shafts

Constant-velocity (CV) steel driveshafts are so named because they revolve at the same speed during the entirety of their operation. One of the most common types of driveshaft, they come in several different subtypes, mostly characterised by the way in which the transmission output shaft and the differential pinion shaft connect.

Split Drive Steel Drive Shafts

Split drive steel driveshafts are two-piece driveshafts used on many vehicles with longer wheelbases. They are characterised by an extra U-joint and a centre bearing which provides greater support to the shaft assembly's middle area.

Torque Tube Steel Drive Shafts

Torque tube steel driveshafts are used on cars with independent rear suspensions. This type of driveshaft is connected rigidly at both ends, with a rotating inner shaft.

Flexible Steel Drive Shafts

Flexible steel driveshafts are very rare and quite different than other steel driveshafts. They are not rigid shafts but are instead just large steel cables.

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About the Author

Justin Mitchell has been a writer since 2009. In 2002, he received a B.A. in theater and writing from the University of Northern Colorado. Mitchell worked as an ESL teacher in Europe and Asia before earning a master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York. He has written for the "New York Daily News" and WNYC.org, among other outlets.

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