The torque converter is a key component of your automobile. It needs to be working properly if you’re going to have a smooth ride. If it’s not working, you’re in trouble. The torque converter is a type of fluid coupling (also known as a hydraulic coupling) that transfers rotating mechanical power generated by the engine to a rotating driven load. The torque converter is an alternative to a mechanical clutch and in a vehicle with automatic transmission it connects the power source to the load. The torque converter is usually located between the engine’s flex plate and the transmission.
Torque converters can multiply torque. Simple fluid coupling can match rotational speed but cannot multiply torque, so using a torque converter allows for more power. Some torque converters are also equipped with a “lockup” mechanism which rigidly binds the engine to the transmission when their speeds are nearly equal in order to avoid slippage and a resulting loss of efficiency. In short, the torque converter is important. So how do you know if you have a bad one?
How can you know if you have a bad torque converter? What are the symptoms of a bad torque converter? Well, if your transmission has been slipping out of gear, this could be a symptom of a bad torque converter. This typically happens when you switch gears and your transmission slips into neutral of its own accord. Moreover, sounds such as shuddering, clunking, whirring, and humming are rarely good news. These could all be signs that something is amiss with your torque converter.
Your transmission tends to get hot, but heat is also the enemy of transmissions. Overheating is a problem that affects many transmissions and this can be caused by a faulty torque converter. High stall speeds are also a symptom of a bad torque converter. The trouble with all of these symptoms, though, is that there could be something wrong with your torque converter long before you notice any of them. That’s why monthly transmission fluid checks are crucial to maintaining a healthy transmission. Dirty transmission fluid –that is opaque or foul-smelling transmission fluid– can be a symptom of a bad torque converter.
But what are some of the causes of all the aforementioned symptoms of a bad torque converter? Many problems can be caused by excessive friction which is usually a sign that a torque converter’s needle bearings have become damaged. Faulty seals are also a prime suspect; they allow fluid to leak and become contaminated. Faulty clutch solenoids are also common causes of torque converter failures.
Yes, absolutely. Bad torque converters can cause overheating, friction damage, and transmission fluid degradation. The longer these problems continue, the more damaged your transmission will get.
Yes. Provided it’s an automatic transmission. Your transmission won’t be able to transfer power from the engine to the axles without a torque converter. In a manual transmission, the equivalent is the mechanical clutch. Sometimes a torque converter has to be replaced independent of the transmission.
To learn more about torque converters, please contact us.