Ford F-150/F-250: 4WD Drive Shaft Modifications

If you're looking for a new drive shaft for your F-150 or F-250, you might be surprised to find a wealth of material options. This guide will run through the benefits and negatives of each.

By Pizzaman711 - November 10, 2014

If your looking to upgrade or just replace your old rusty drive shaft, your in the right place. This article will cover the benefits and drawbacks to the four major materials used to make them: steel, aluminum, chromoly, and carbon fiber. Your drive shaft is what delivers power from the transmission to the axle, so it's important for it to be light. This is why almost all drive shafts are hollow, it saves on weight allowing for less power to be lost in the drive line.


Cost: $330 - 750 (one piece vs. two piece)

From the factory, you'll see steel on about half the trucks and aluminum on the other half. While you would think going to aluminum would save a chunk of weight to maximize power, the difference is pretty small. This is due to the thinner wall steel used versus the thicker wall aluminum need to maintain the strength. The biggest drawback to steel is it'll attract surface rust, while this won't affect the functionality, it does look pretty bad overtime. However steel drive shafts are generally the cheapest to buy.


Cost: $370-800 (one piece versus two piece)

Aluminum's biggest improvement over the steel drive shaft is it's ability to resist rust and stay looking good. There's always been the argument that the steel is a lot stronger due to its properties, but in most OEM replacement cases you'll find this to not be true. While you can get custom drive shafts made to be stronger in any metal, when your looking at an OEM replacement you'll find the strength to be about the same between steel and aluminum. There is a slight weight reduction in the aluminum, but unless your trying to build a 10 second truck, the difference won't be noticeable.


Cost: $430-1100+

Chromoly drive shafts are about 40-60% stronger than steel and aluminum, as well as having a higher speed property. This basically means this drive shaft can withstand the abuse of an 800+ horsepower vehicle without wearing out or going out of balance. Because the intended application for this is a high horsepower vehicle or one that will see heavy abuse off road, the average driver will never need one of these. The cost for these can go way up depending on options chosen, but if you want an extremely strong custom drive shaft, chromoly could be an option.

Carbon Fiber

Cost: $1000+

Like the chromoly driveshafts, the average driver will not need one of these. Carbon fiber is the lightest and one of the strongest driveshafts you can get, but it's mainly used for track purposes. Depending on your application, chromoly and carbon fiber should be compared equally when choosing as each one has minor benefits over the other. However, these aren't recommend for a lot of street use or any off road use as any chips or deep scratches through the epoxy coating left unfixed can greatly weaken the driveshaft. Also, because these are highly application dependent, you'll find it nearly impossible to find one these off-the-shelf and not have to have it custom built.

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