|Topics||Half Shaft, Transaxle, Transfer Case, Transmission, Universal Joints|
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.