Your Honda CRV makes a clunk underneath, and as you inspect, you find that the rear drive shaft has snapped. Can you drive a Honda CRV without a driveshaft? The last thing you want to do is reach for your tools to remove a driveshaft and then find that you cannot go anywhere.
Since the CRV is a front-wheel drive car, you imagine it doesn’t need the rear differential to operate, but you want to be sure. What kind of damage will it do if you disconnect the drive shaft from the rear axle? Will the AWD work? Will the CRV even operate? You know that you don’t have the money to take the CRV to a mechanic, and if you can save a few bucks doing the work yourself, that is the way to go.
Can You Drive A Honda CRV Without A Drive Shaft?
You can safely drive the Honda CRV without a driveshaft to the rear axle. Because the car is an FWD vehicle primarily, the front axle powers the car. You will not have a working, intelligent AWD system, but driving the car without a driveshaft to the rear wheels is acceptable.
While you will likely see multiple lights on your dashboard indicating that something is wrong with the AWD system, you can live with them for a while.
You should remember that driving without the ability of the computer to help you in hazardous road conditions, like slick streets or icy conditions, does mean that the car is more susceptible to hydroplaning or losing cohesion. There will be no way for the car to adjust the rear tires when more traction is needed.
So, let’s explore just what a drive shaft is and how it might affect your CRV’s ability to function.
What Is A Driveshaft?
Every car has a transmission that delivers torque to a long shaft which in turn delivers the necessary power to axles that turn the wheels of a car to make it go. While the drive shaft that powers a front-wheel drive vehicle is much shorter than the shaft that extends to the back wheels, the primary driveshaft forces the front wheels to turn, thus pulling the CRV forward.
(Unlike a rear-wheel drive car where the engine sends power to a drivetrain at the back of the car.
That drive train powers the rear axles, so you could say that a rear-wheel drive car is being pushed while a front-wheel vehicle is pulled forward).
Because the CRV (at least many models) are all-wheel drive, a driveshaft (also called a propeller shaft) sends torque to the rear wheels when needed. The Intelligent AWD that Honda offers uses a computer to determine when traction needs to be increased to the rear wheels for added traction.
This is why when you run through a large puddle of rainwater, and your front tire loses cohesion with the road, that power shifts to the rear tires to offer added traction and keep you from losing control and ending up in a ditch. For an article on the pros and cons of driving without a driveshaft on a Honda CRV, check out the article on fourwheeltrends.com.
What Effects Will a Broken Driveshaft have?
A broken driveshaft to the front means that the car is not sending the right power to the CV axles to move the car. While you can technically drive for a short distance with a busted front CV axle, it is not advisable. These components can break off, hang down, and even get lodged against the pavement to cause significant damage to your car.
A rear driveshaft is a different story. You can slide under your CRV, remove the long shaft that powers the rear differential, and effectively drive the car. The rear CV axle is essential but not as crucial as the front.
If the rear driveshaft is removed, the car will not be able to shift into AWD or protect you during inclement weather by adding traction to the rear wheels when needed. You will see your dashboard light up as the Electronic Stability Control cannot work because there is no way for the computer to shift traction to the rear when it is needed.
So, best case scenario, you drive without AWD. Worst case, you create additional damage to the vehicle by driving it without an inspection or repair. For an excellent article on the importance of AWD in adverse driving conditions.
What Are The Warning Signs of a Failing Driveshaft?
There are many reasons why a driveshaft might fail. If you have owned your CRV for several years, simple wear and tear can create issues because, over time, parts wear down. Just think about the amount of vibration and the exposure to the elements that the underside of your car takes day after day.
Exposure to dust and dirt from traveling on rough roads or off-roads can contribute to the deterioration of a CV joint. (If you live on a gravel road, the tires can kick up rocks and create issues and damage).
Here is a list of some of the more basic warning signs.
You See a Couple of Lights on the Dashboard
You might see a few primary lights if you are having trouble with your driveshaft.
- A yellow AWD light means that your all-wheel-drive system is malfunctioning.
- You see your ESC light (The picture of a car with wavy lines underneath it)
- A yellow light that looks like a little engine indicates something serious is wrong. (Remember your car’s computer thinks there is something catastrophic happening).
You Feel Vibrations from Under Your Vehicle
One of the first signs will be a vibration from underneath your car. While this could also be an indication of bad tires (or tires that need balancing), it could also mean a broken CV axle. The vibrations will worsen, and eventually, you may lose other components like the ability to steer effectively.
You Have Trouble Making Turns
As we just mentioned, the problem is with the driveshaft if you have trouble making a turn or feel resistance from the car when engaging the steering wheel. You could lose control of the vehicle should this problem be allowed to persist.
You Hear Loud Clanking Noises
You know you have serious problems when you hear a loud clanking noise from under your car. It is always best to find out if the problem is with the driveshaft or if it means that the transmission is failing because that is also a possibility.
You Notice Leaking Fluid
A damaged driveshaft can leak fluids, and worn seals or bearings beginning to fail are usually the culprits. Since this is a beginning sign of driveshaft failure or transmission problems, be sure to have it checked out.
How Long Is the Drivetrain Warranty on a Honda CRV?
The powertrain warranty on all Honda vehicles is five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. The warranty covers any internally lubricated component of the engine or transmission.
Many consumers have extended service contracts that they have purchased at the point of sale, which can extend the warranty for repairs like CV joints, axles, or drivetrains.
The coverages vary depending on the company and the type of plan purchased. Still, this option is always worth exploring, mainly if your CRV is over five years old or has more than the allotted mileage.