It may be a term you’ve heard before. “Drivetrain” often gets mistakenly interchanged with “powertrain” which is actually a slightly more encompassing automotive term that includes the engine along with the drivetrain.

In a nutshell, the drivetrain consists of the transmission, the driveshaft, the wheels, the joints and the axles. Ultimately, it is the system that helps transfer power from the engine to the wheels so that your car will move. So, it’s obviously a very integral component of your vehicle, and if all parts aren’t working together properly it will greatly impact its performance.

In addition to transmission repairs, services and rebuilds, drivetrain services are also offered at Ralph’s Transmission. The transmission and the rest of the drivetrain (otherwise known as the driveline when referring to everything beyond the transmission) are two different systems that work together. The transmission keeps the engine and wheels working in unison no matter what gear the vehicle is in. The various components of the driveline then transfer that power and regulate torque as the car is in motion.

Let’s take a look at the different parts of a drivetrain:

• The Driveshaft connects directly to the transmission and ultimately provides power to the wheels.

• The U-Joint (short for “Universal Joint”) is a flexible joint that pivots, allows for different driveshaft angles and transmits power.

• The CV Joints (short for “Constant-Velocity Joints”) help maintain a constant velocity. They are part of the driveshaft and can bend in every direction to keep wheels turning consistently.

• The Differential splits the power coming from the engine/transmission two different ways. This allows for the axles and wheels to spin at different speeds while on the road in order to compensate for different variables affecting each wheel.

• The Axle Shafts are connected from either side of the differential(s) directly to the wheels, providing the final drivetrain connection that relays power from the engine and ultimately turns the wheels at the proper speeds.

This is a pretty basic explanation of a drivetrain and the components that affect its performance. At Ralph’s Transmission, we want customers to understand everything that might be impacting your car, from the transmission itself to other parts of the drivetrain. When a customer comes in with a problem, we inspect it thoroughly to see where the issue may be. Then, we’ll explain exactly what needs to be fixed before you commit to any repairs, rebuilds or parts replacements.