Most of us have visions of being something of a grease monkey. Who wouldn’t want to know how to fix their own vehicle? Maybe you just bought your first car or maybe you’ve just retired and now you have the time to commit yourself to learning about automobiles. Regardless of who you are, you will find that vehicles are complicated. Like, really complicated. Forget knowing how to fix a vehicle, or even how it works, just learning the names of everything can be a real ordeal. For example, what the heck is a drivetrain? Is it the same thing as a transmission, or what?
The drivetrain isn’t one single thing. It’s a group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels. The purpose of a drivetrain is to transmit power to whichever wheels drive your vehicle. The drivetrain physically links the engine to the axle(s) via a drive shaft. But this is tricky because the operating speed of the engine and the wheels are different and so they must be matched by the correct gear ratio. As the vehicle’s speed changes, the ideal engine speed must remain more or less constant for efficient operation and so this gearbox ratio has to also be changed, either manually, automatically, or by an automatic continuous variation, i.e.: via a manual, automatic, or CVT transmission.
So, is a drivetrain the same thing as a transmission? No. Well, kind of. The term “drivetrain” usually refers to all the parts that transfer power from the engine to the wheels, so the transmission is actually part of the drivetrain, along with the axles, torque converter or clutch. “Power train” usually refers to all of these and the engine.
There are many possible causes of a drivetrain malfunction. The kind of malfunction that you are experiencing will hint at what the cause is. First, there are all the standard transmission problems you could be experiencing: overheating, damaged transmission fluid or a lack of fluid, a fluid leak, or too much friction within the transmission. The torque converter can also be a cause of a drivetrain malfunction. Blown head gaskets, problematic fuel injectors, air flow issues can also cause drivetrain malfunctions.
Is your transmission overheating? Are you slipping into neutral after changing gears? Are you experiencing grinding when you shift gears? Do you hear weird noises like humming or clunking, even when in neutral? All of these are tip offs that your drivetrain has got problems.
This question really is impossible to answer in an article that could be read by thousands of different people with hundreds of different types and configurations of drivetrain. It might be as cheap as a hundred bucks or so to inspect, find a common problem, and fix it quickly. Or it could cost you thousands of dollars if your drivetrain or transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced. One thing’s for sure: drivetrains don’t magically fix themselves and the cost of drivetrain repairs only increase over time.
To learn more about drivetrains, please contact us.