Hey, quick response would be much appreciated here. After a bit of off-roading I noticed a horrible grinding noise which I thought was my tranny. I changed my oil and noticed this: http://www.maticuno.com/pictures/drivecollar.jpg
while underneath. Happy it turned out to be this instead of a bent input shaft and shattered second gear as I was originally thinking. I'm guessing it is some sort of balancer for the driveshaft. What I'm wondering is...since my truck is running just great (minus the grinding) without it...do I even need it? Can I just drop the driveshaft and remove it with no problems? Or should I have the shop replace it?
It is just a vibration dampner. It might play some small part in balancing the driveshaft, but it is just really there to reduce sudden shock movements through the drivetrain.
Pull the driveshaft and take it off. Drive around and see if you notice any difference without it on there. It is only attached to the yoke with some rubber and that's why they are prone to breaking. If you really, really want to fix this, you'll have to buy a new yoke that has the dampner on it.
Thanks for the input. Already took it off and I don't notice any ill effects. There are some (relatively) massive chunks taken out of the collar. I don't know how my ALUMINUM tranny case could have made those marks...but it has the matching bites to show it. I think I'm going to keep the part as a cupholder or a paperweight as a monument to one of Ford's more lame ideas.
i drive a mazda had the same problem trust me it will get worse after a few months
id take off the shaft and take it to a drive shaft shop they will rebalance the shaft and the truck will be back to its normal self