If you’re like most people, you don’t really think about your vehicle’s drivetrain very much. But, thing is, it’s still pretty important – as in, it’s what makes your car move! Which is why it makes sense to get to know your drivetrain a little better – at least the basics. Then, you’ll be able to tell if you’re having any drivetrain problems and get them fixed before things get too crazy.
In the most basic terms, your car’s drivetrain connects your engine with your tires and makes your car move. It’s made up of several components, including:
Transmission – Transmits power from the engine to the wheels and allows for gear shifting.
Driveshaft – Connects the U-joints, transmission and other components to provide power and torque to your wheels.
Differential – A set of gears located on either the front or the back end of the driveshaft that distributes power equally to your wheels.
U-joints – Flexible joint components that connect the driveshaft to the transmission to allow it to move.
Axles – Steel rods that support the weight of your vehicle and connect and rotate the wheels.
CV Joints – Constant Velocity, or CV joints, connect to the ends of your axles and allow for flexibility so the wheels can turn and the suspension can move freely up and down.
The drivetrain is a collection of components which work together to transfer power from your engine to your wheels. The powertrain is a broader term referring to all the parts necessary to make your vehicle move, including the drivetrain and the engine.
You may have a differential located at the front or back of your driveshaft, or both, depending on which wheels receive power from the engine. Front-wheel drive cars have front differentials while the differential in a rear-wheel drive car is between the rear wheels. All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles can have both front and back differentials.
Vibrations – Strong shaking coming from under your car can indicate a drivetrain problem.
Squeaking – This is typically caused by a lack of lubrication in drivetrain joints.
Trouble turning – Though unlikely, faulty or unlubricated u-joints can make turning difficult.
Clinking, knocking or clunking noises – A variety of unusual noises can be caused by faulty u-joints.
Shimmy when you accelerate – This unwelcome sign can be caused by u-joint problems as well.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems with your vehicle, the highly trained technicians at your local Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers can do a complete inspection of your car’s drivetrain and, if they detect a problem, discuss your repair options with you. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Fixing drivetrain problems earlier can help you avoid what could be much more expensive repairs later.