Engine and Drivetrain

Engine and Drivetrain

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Engine and Drivetrain at 1A Auto

What is the engine and drivetrain and where is it located?

The engine and drivetrain (also known together as the powertrain or powerplant) work as a team to put your car in forward motion. They go together like a pen and paper — without one piece, you can't really use the other. You see, to get your car moving, your engine needs to convert stored chemical energy in the gas tank to kinetic energy. It does this by creating thermal energy through combustion, which, with the help of the drivetrain, is converted into mechanical energy, putting the wheels in motion to give the car kinetic energy. It's not a simple process and a bunch of components like the transmission, driveshaft, differential, and axles that are stored underneath the car work together to transfer the energy needed to get those wheels spinning forward. These components are what makes up the drivetrain — and they can vary depending on the automaker and the system.

As you may know, many cars and trucks can come with different driveline configurations. You can select a car with front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), all-wheel drive (AWD), part time all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive (4WD or 4x4), and part time four-wheel drive.  What makes up these drivetrains also makes up the difference between them.

If you select a car with a manual or automatic transmission, your drivetrain is going to include some distinctive components. For example, an automatic transmission comes with a torque converter, which takes the torque created by the engine and transmits it to the input shaft of the transmission in a spinning motion; it also allows the engine and transmission to work freely from each other. In a manual transmission, the clutch has a similar role but is controlled by the driver. Of course, the same drivelines (4WD, AWD, FWD, etc.) can come with either type of transmission, so there can be an even greater difference, such as multiple differentials being found on an AWD system.

Many automakers today have reduced the number of drivetrain components with the development of FWD cars. This is done through a technology known as the transaxle, developed in the 1890s, but much improved upon in the ensuing years. It's essentially a device that can function as the transmission, differential, and axle all in one, but they are typically found on cars with particular powertrain layouts:  FWD vehicles with a front-mounted engines, or RWD vehicles with a rear-mounted engines. There are certain rare exceptions. Interestingly enough, you may think you have a transmission (or gearbox) when you have a transaxle, as the terms tend to be used interchangeably among automakers.

This explanation is, of course, an incredibly simplified version of the mechanical processes, but it should give you a general idea of how the powertrain system operates.

How do I know if my engine and drivetrain parts need to be replaced?

Obviously, the powertrain system isn't just going to blow up and malfunction, but these parts shouldn't be taken lightly. Many are connected and made with integral, tiny parts where if just one skip or malfunction occurs the whole system can be rendered inoperable. These parts can range from the timing system (including the timing belt, water pump, and pulleys), any sensors on the engine, useful kits like a counterbalance shaft seal and retainer kit, ignition coils, fuel injectors, oxygen sensors, engine oil pump, fuel injectors, rocker arms, and more. Symptoms of failure can vary from one piece to another, but will often result in the engine running rough, losing power, or not starting at all. 

Can I replace engine and drivetrain parts myself?

Depending on the job, an average do-it-yourselfer can replace many parts used in engine and drivetrain systems, such as any sensors, serpentine belt, ignition coil, or transmission oil pan. However, there are many complicated jobs also, many of which require a certain amount of time and expertise to tackle. Some jobs, like replacing an entire transmission, are best left to the professionals.

Need engine or drivetrain parts?

At 1A Auto, we make shopping for engine and drivetrain parts for your car, truck, SUV or van easy - we're here to help you select the right parts for your vehicle! Call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our aftermarket automotive engine and drivetrain components, warranty, compatibility or to purchase, or you can buy online.

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