What’s the Difference Between Drivetrain & Powertrain?

Volkswagen powertrain and drivetrain

What are the differences between drivetrain and powertrain? Basically, the drivetrain provides power to the wheels. The powertrain is made up of the engine and the drivetrain.

Drivetrain and Powertrain

You may not know off the top of your head what the advantages are of comparing a drivetrain vs. powertrain however when you recognize the distinctions between the two, it will provide you the advantage when car shopping, visiting the auto mechanic, or when Alex Trebek asks you a Jeopardy question about vehicle elements that make cars move.

Basically, powertrains and drivetrains basically do the same thing. They create kinetic energy to make your vehicle ‘go’. Now, chances are that you’ve never really thought about exactly how essential these moving parts are. They’re the unsung heroes that get you from point A to point B and they each operate in their own one-of-a-kind way.


Parts of the Drivetrain: What are they?

Often times the terms ‘drivetrain’ and ‘powertrain’ are used interchangeably however, contrary to popular belief, they are not the exact same. So just what is the distinction between powertrain parts and drivetrain components? The greatest difference is the way power is generated and dispersed to the vehicle.

A drivetrain is not actually a single part of your car – it’s a team of drivetrain parts that collaborate with the engine to move the wheels and numerous parts of the car to move it into motion. These parts often include the transmission, differential, driveshaft, axles, CV joints, and the wheels.


Drivetrain: How Does it work?

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

  • The engine will produce power to power a flywheel
  • That flywheel works with the transmission to regulate the amount of power distributed to various other components of the drivetrain
  • The driveshaft spins to create power to a differential
  • The differential then delivers power from all those driveshaft parts and boom … your wheels are moving

Powertrain: What’s in it?

If you mastered the drivetrain basics, the powertrain basics ought to be an easy concept to understand, because of the fact that there is only one defining factor that sets them apart. That variable is the engine. In a powertrain, the engine belongs of the many moving components. If you remember from the paragraph above, the drivetrain collaborates with the engine.

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


What are the Differences Between Drivetrain and Powertrain? | Volkswagen of Kearny Mesa


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