What Is a Drive Shaft Disconnect for Tow Vehicles?


Quick Answer

A drive shaft disconnect for tow vehicles, also known as a drive shaft coupling, is a special mechanical device that disconnects a vehicle's drive axle from its drive shaft. Towing a rear-wheel drive vehicle by its front axle without disconnecting the drive shaft from the rear axle can cause serious, irreversible damage to the vehicle.

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Full Answer

Drive shaft disconnects are only really necessary for rear-wheel drive vehicles towed on a regular basis. Installing a drive shaft disconnect is particularly economical for recreational vehicle owners who regularly tow their cars and trucks behind the larger vehicles. When most rear-wheel-drive vehicles break down, it is much more economical to call for a flatbed tow truck, as these trucks do not turn either of the vehicle's axles. For some vehicles, a standard tow truck can tow the vehicle by lifting its rear wheels off the ground, but this is only possible on those vehicles with sufficient front-side ground clearance.

While a mechanic can disconnect the cable that connects the drive shaft to the drive axle without using a drive shaft disconnect, this is an expensive job that is often impossible to perform in roadside tow situations. Furthermore, while having a mechanic disconnect the components is difficult and time-consuming, disconnecting the shaft from axle using a drive shaft disconnect only requires pulling a lever inside the vehicle.

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