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Understanding powertrain and drivetrain

Simply defined, powertrain and drivetrain serve the same purpose. To keep your car moving, they generate kinetic energy. You’d never guess how important these moving parts are. Let us learn more about them. Most individuals aren’t aware of the advantages of comparing powertrain and drivetrain. Recognizing the differences between the two, on the other hand, will help you when purchasing a vehicle or having a specialist look for a problem.

In this article, you’ll learn the definition, components, diagrams, and working of powertrain and drivetrain, you’ll also learn the difference between the two device.

powertrain and drivetrain


Read more: Understanding differential


What is a powertrain?

Everything that supplies power to the vehicle is referred to as the powertrain. In other terms, the powertrain is the sum of all the components that move the vehicle forward. Typically, it takes power from the engine and sends it to the ground wheels. A well maintained powertrain system will always provide the best performance for the vehicle. It will be efficient in terms of fuel and oil consumption, allowing the car to run smoothly.

The powertrain is made up of all of the sections and parts that turn the engine’s combustion into the real speed needed to propel the vehicle. As a result, its sole function is to transform kinetic energy into propellant motion. If one of these components fails, the car may shake or rattle in an odd way.

Components of Powertrain

The followings are the major components of a powertrain in a vehicle:

  1. Engine
  2. Transmission
  3. Driveshaft
  4. Axles
  5. Differential


An engine is a component of the powertrain that converts mechanical energy from one or more types of energy. An engine creates the power to move your vehicle since it is its heart. The fundamental components of an engine are pistons that move up and down inside cylinders and a crankshaft that turns reciprocating action into rotating motion.


Every car’s transmission guarantees that the appropriate amount of power is sent to the wheels. It takes power from the engine and modifies it according to driving circumstances before sending it to the wheels, much like a gearbox.


The function of a driveshaft is to transfer torque from the transmission to the wheels, and it is also known as the propeller shaft. It would have to be driven from various angles and its length would have to be adjusted to meet the suspension’s speed.


Another important component of the powertrain is the axle. It’s mostly found in the space between the wheels. It rotates and delivers engine power to the wheels, as well as handling the vehicle’s weight.


This is just another important component of the rear axle. Differential systems allow each rear wheel to rotate at a separate pace when turning. It’s important while turning a corner, for example, because the outer wheel must spin quicker than the inner wheel.


Read more: Understanding the working of flywheel


Diagram of a powertrain:


Watch the video below to learn the working of a powertrain:

What is drivetrain?

Everything in the powertrain except the engine is referred to as the drivetrain. Simply described, this is a group of components that work together with the engine to move the wheels and propel them forward. The transmission, differential, driveshaft, axle, CV joint, and wheels make up the drivetrain.

The engine creates enough power to drive the flywheel. The flywheel controls the amount of power transmitted to other sections of the drivetrain by operating the transmission. The driveshaft now rotates to power the differential, which subsequently distributes power to all of the driveshaft components and causes the wheels to spin.


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Read more: Understanding Lean Burn Engines


Components of a drivetrain

The followings are the components of drivetrain in an automobile engine:

  1. Transaxle
  2. Constant velocity joint
  3. Half shaft
  4. Universal joint
  5. Driveshaft
  6. Differential


Four-wheel-drive cars commonly have this component. It serves as both a transmission and an axle, as the name implies. Depending on the vehicle’s transmission type, one end is attached to the clutch or torque converter. The differential or another set of gears are attached to the other end.

Constant velocity joint

The purpose of a constant velocity joint is to supply power at a changeable angle. These are an important component of the transmission system because they deliver power at a consistent rotating speed while reducing friction.

Half shaft

It’s nothing more than a two-part drive axle that can be utilized on both wheels. The differential is attached to one end, while the wheel is connected to the other.

Universal joint

A universal joint is a crucial component that connects two shafts with inclined axes, or axes that are at an angle. These connect the transmission to the propeller shaft and the propeller shaft to the differential in rear-wheel drive vehicles.


Read more: Working and effectiveness of a propeller shaft


Diagram of a drivetrain:

diagram of a drivetrain

Watch the video below to learn the working of a drivetrain:

Difference between powertrain and drivetrain

The drivetrain and powerplant mechanics are vastly different. This will be determined by the configuration of your car. A rear-wheel-drive vehicle has a different powertrain and drivetrain than a front-wheel-drive vehicle. They will also distinguish between two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The table below shows the difference between a powertrain and drivetrain:

Powertrain Drivetrain
An engine and a drivetrain make up the majority of the powertrain. The kinetic parts of the drivetrain, but not the engine, make up the majority of the drivetrain.
The power going to the wheels is referred to as the powertrain. The phrase “drivetrain” refers to all of the pieces that your vehicle’s mechanics use to move it.
The transmission, axle, engine, driveshaft, wheels, and differential make up the powertrain. A transaxle, CV joint, half shaft, universal joint, driveshaft, and differential make up the powertrain.


Read more: Understanding Limited Slip Differential


A powertrain and drivetrain are similar but still differs. In this article, we’ve covered the definition, components, diagram, working, and difference between powertrain and drivetrain. I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you around!