A drive shaft, driveshaft, driving shaft, tailshaft (Australian English), propeller shaft (prop shaft), or Cardan shaft (after Girolamo Cardano) is a mechanical component for transmitting torque and rotation, usually used to connect other components of a drive train that cannot be connected directly because of distance or the need to allow for relative movement between them.
Drive shafts are used differently in different vehicles, varying greatly in cars with distinct configurations for front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and the previously mentioned front-engine rear-wheel drive. Other vehicles also use drive shafts.
To allow for variations in the alignment and distance between the driving and driven components, drive shafts frequently incorporate one or more universal joints, jaw couplings, or rag joints, and sometimes a splined joint or prismatic joint.
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