What are the Differences Between Powertrain & Drivetrain?

drivetrain powertrain Volkswagen

What are drivetrain and powertrain? In summary, the drivetrain is what delivers the power to move the wheels. The powertrain is made from the motor and the drivetrain.

Powertrain vs Drivetrain

You might not know off the top of your head what the benefits are of comparing a drivetrain vs. powertrain however when you understand the distinctions between both, it will provide you the edge when car shopping, seeing the auto mechanic, or when Alex Trebek asks you a Jeopardy question concerning vehicle parts that make vehicles move.

In short, powertrains and drivetrains essentially do the same thing. They produce kinetic energy to make your car or truck ‘go’. Now, chances are that you have never really thought of exactly how important these moving parts are. They’re the unrecognized heroes that get you from point A to point B and they each operate in their own one-of-a-kind way.


Drivetrain Components: What are they?

Many times the terms ‘drivetrain’ and ‘powertrain’ are used interchangeably but, contrary to popular belief, they are not the same. So just what is the difference between powertrain components and drivetrain components? The greatest distinction is the way power is produced and distributed to the vehicle.

A drivetrain is not really a solitary part of your vehicle – it’s a group of drivetrain parts that work together with the engine to move the wheels and different parts of the vehicle to thrust it into motion. These parts commonly include the transmission, differential, driveshaft, axles, CV joints, and the wheels.


How Does A Drivetrain Work?

This is the order in which power is created and delivered by a drivetrain:

  • The engine will generate energy to power a flywheel
  • That flywheel works with the transmission to regulate the amount of power distributed to other components of the drivetrain
  • The driveshaft rotates to create power to a differential
  • After that the differential provides power from all those driveshaft elements and boom … your wheels are moving

Powertrain: What’s in it?

If you understood the drivetrain fundamentals, the powertrain basics should be a simple concept to understand, due to the reality that there is only one specifying factor that sets them apart. That variable is the engine. In a powertrain, the engine is a part of the many moving elements. If you remember from the paragraph above, the drivetrain works with the engine.

The powertrain includes every moving component that is essential to the automobile’s success. Its single purpose is converting kinetic energy into propulsion movement. If one of these parts fail your automobile might experience some uncommon rattling, or shaking.


What are the Differences Between Drivetrain and Powertrain? | Volkswagen of Alamo Heights


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