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This paper presents a failure analysis of a reverse shaft in the transmission system of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The reverse shaft with splines fractured into two pieces during operation. Visual examination of the fractured surface clearly showed cracks initiated from the roots of spline teeth. To find out the cause of fracture of the shaft, a finite element analysis was carried out to predict the stress state of the shaft under steady loading and shock loading, respectively. The steady loading was produced under normal operation, while the shock loading could be generated by an abrupt change of operation such as start-up or sudden braking during working. Results of stress analysis reveal that the highest stressed area coincided with the fractured regions of the failed shaft. The maximum stress predicted under shock loading exceeded the yield strength and was believed to be the stimulant for crack initiation and propagation at this weak region. The failure analysis thus showed that the premature fatigue fracture of the shaft was caused by abnormal operation. Finally, some suggestions to enhance service durability of the transmission system of ATV are discussed.

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