|Topics||CV Joints, Half Shaft, Transaxle, Transfer Case, Transmission, Universal Joints|
Constant velocity (CV) joints are located at both ends of a half shaft and their purpose is to transfer the torque from the transmission to the drive wheels at a constant speed while accomodating the up and down movement of the suspension. The inner CV joint connects the shaft to the transmission and the outer CV joint connects the shaft to the wheel.
A half shaft is a drive axle that extends from a transaxle or differential to one of the drive wheels. There are two half shafts per drive axle, one for each wheel, each doing "half" the job.
A differential is designed to drive a pair of wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds. A transaxle is a transmission that incorporates the differential in one package. Most front-wheel drive cars use a transaxle while rear-wheel drive cars use a transmission and separate differential connected via a drive shaft. The differential is incorporated into the drive axle which splits engine power delivered by the drive shaft between the two drive wheels. All-wheel drive cars typically use a transaxle that includes an output shaft to the rear differential.
The transfer case splits engine power between the front and rear axles of four-wheel drive vehicles.
The transmission provides the appropriate power to vehicle wheels to maintain a given speed. The engine and the transmission have to be disconnected to shift gears and a manual transmission requires the driver to manually manage this disconnection (using a clutch) and to manually shift gears. An automatic transmission is essentially an automatic gear shifter and handles this process without driver input.
Like CV joints, universal joints (U-joints) are located at each end of a drive shaft and allow the shaft to operate at a variable angle with the item it is driving. Universal joints perform the same basic function as CV joints but CV joints have a wider range of operation.