The torque converter is a type of fluid coupling. It functions similarly to the clutch in a manual transmission. The clutch connects the engine to a manual transmission, and it enables you to stop your car without turning off the engine.
The torque converter does something similar. Engines have crankshafts and as they turn, this produces a lot of torque. Torque is energy created in the torque converter. It’s torque that allows you to accelerate your car. With your engine generating more torque, the faster you can drive your vehicle.
Have you ever stopped to think about your engine? When you’re stopped at a light, your engine is still running. How is it that the engine keeps going, but your car doesn’t? The answer lies with the torque converter. It’s what enables the engine to spin semi-independently of the transmission.
When your engine is turning slowly, because you’re idling, for example, the amount of torque that goes through the converter is very small. That’s why you can keep your vehicle stopped by applying only a small amount of pressure on the brake pedal. If, for some reason, you stepped on the gas pedal while you were stopped, though, you would have to press down on the brake pedal with much more force to remain stationary. This is because pressing the accelerator makes the engine speed up, which pumps more fluid into the torque converter, which converts more torque to the wheels.
Transmission slipping is a common symptom of a bad torque converter. A transmission slips when the engine revs up, but the vehicle doesn’t speed up. The torque converter increases pressure inside of it to propel the car, and if it doesn’t, it might slip.
Torque converter problems and transmission slips also relate to overheating. Overheating can absolutely destroy a transmission, so you must be careful. If the torque converter slips while you’re driving, it can overheat the transmission fluid, if the fluid is low, even boil it in some cases. That’s why slipping can really damage transmissions quickly. Some cars have temperature sensors that can turn on the transmission control unit or check engine lights on the dashboard. Never ignore these warning lights. You should also look out for rough idling and rough acceleration.
At Mister Transmission, we can repair or replace your torque converter. To learn more, please get in touch with us to schedule the transmission service or repair you need.