When it comes to building strong and light parts inexpensively, aluminum is a great choice. It’s an economic and stiff material that many performance parts are made of. With recent developments, however, more and more drive shafts are being made out of an even lighter material: carbon fiber. While carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum, it’s also much more expensive.
1.Steel driveshafts are stock for noise and vibration dampening
2.Light weight alternatives “free up horsepower” by letting the engine rev faster
3.Aluminum driveshafts can drop about ten pounds from your Mustang
4.Aluminum driveshafts are significantly cheaper than their carbon cousins
5.Carbon fiber driveshafts are stronger than aluminum and produce less noise
6.Carbon fiber is also safer to run because when aluminum fails it shatters whereas carbon fiber shears
Aluminum is a very sturdy material for building lightweight and strong parts. It is readily available and easy to work with, making it a prime choice for aftermarket companies. When comparing an aluminum driveshaft to a stock steel drive shaft, you can save considerable weight. For most 1979-2004 Mustangs, you can drop about 10 pounds of rotating mass by making the switch to aluminum.
For the 2005-2014 Mustangs, you can drop almost 20 pounds of rotational mass. Power freed up by losing so much rotational weight often equals about 0.2 of a second in quarter mile times, as well as a smoother revving Mustang. The only downside to aluminum driveshafts is they can transmit slightly more rotational noise and can have a little more vibration because they do not have as much dampening built into them with heavy counter weights.
Take note that 2003 and 2004 Cobra’s come factory with aluminum driveshafts; so if you own one, you don’t have to worry about upgrading unless you decide to go with a carbon fiber design. Also, if somehow your driveshaft is damaged, then you should replace it as soon as possible. A damaged driveshaft can be harmful to the car and/or driver and can cause a lot of unnecessary vibration, which could end up loosening or damaging other parts.
Carbon Fiber Driveshafts
Carbon fiber is a miracle material. It’s even lighter than aluminum and has more torsional strength than steel. A carbon fiber driveshaft will typically weigh about 1-2 pounds less than an aluminum driveshaft. The slight weight difference gives it a slight advantage over aluminum, but the biggest benefit to a carbon fiber driveshaft is its ability to absorb vibrations and other rotational harmonics commonly transmitted by steel and aluminum driveshafts.
Since carbon fiber is many layers, the plies of the driveshaft will absorb and dissipate the vibrations. Carbon fiber is also safer if it were to fail. When an aluminum driveshaft breaks it can throw shrapnel all over the place and cause serious damage the underside of your Mustang. When a carbon fiber driveshaft fails, it will shred back into fibers.
Carbon fiber driveshafts are rated to withstand up to 900HP. Carbon fiber driveshaft’s also come with upgraded U-joints and CV joints to deliver strong connections between the engine and the rear axle. By switching to a carbon fiber driveshaft, you will have the least amount of vibration over any other available option. Most people find a carbon fiber driveshaft is the best choice in keeping cabin noise down as well.