A Complete Guide About A Car’s Powertrain


You love to accelerate your car. But did you ever think about where the car’s power comes from? Yes, the engine powers the car but your vehicle moves because of the powertrain components. So, it is important to understand what a powertrain is and how to know if it’s faulty.

Let’s dive in and see the function of a powertrain in your car.

What Is A Powertrain

The assembly of the components that move your car forward is called a powertrain. A vehicle’s powertrain creates power and delivers this engine power to the car’s wheels to move it. 

A car needs a functional powertrain so that it can run on the road through any road conditions. The most important components of a car powertrain are the differential, axles, driveshaft, transmission, and engine.


On your car’s rear axle is a differential. It is because of the differential that every rear wheel can turn at a varying speed. 

When your car turns any corner, the most important component at work is the differential. While turning any corner, a car’s outside wheel must be rotating faster than the other wheels, and the differential does that.


An engine is your car’s heart as it produces the power that drives any vehicle. The pistons in an engine move up and down inside the crankshaft and cylinders that convert this motion into the car’s rotating motion. 


The component in the car is responsible for transferring the transmission torque to the car’s wheels. A driveshaft does this action by changing its own length and using various angles to adjust according to the suspension’s movement. 


Axles are a crucial component of a car’s powertrain. The location of the axles is between the car’s wheels. It actually has two functions. The first one is to rotate and transmit the engine’s power to the wheels. The second one is to put up with the car’s weight. 


A car’s transmission is one of the most basic components responsible for the proper power transfer from the engine to the wheels. It sources the power from the car’s engine, like the gearbox, and properly adjusts it to your driving condition. Finally, it transfers the power to the wheels.

You should know that a car’s powertrain is very important because your car will not move forward without its proper working. Overall, a powertrain consists of all the parts that produce, convert and use the energy to move your car in forward motion.

Types Of Powertrain Systems

The powertrain systems are of four kinds.

Rear Wheel Drive  

In rear wheel drive, the power goes from the car transmission to the back two wheels of the car after travelling through the rear differential.

Front Wheel Drive  

In front wheel drive, the engine doesn’t run vertically. It operates horizontally, which is called transverse engine placement. It is responsible for transferring the power to the front wheels of your vehicle.

All Wheel Drive

All wheel drivetrains have multiple configurations. One configuration can be compared to the front wheel drive design in which the engine is connected to the car’s transmission in the same place as the differential and front axles. The other one has the power to go from the car’s transmission to the Centre differential. 

Four Wheel Drive

Four wheel cars are almost the same as AWD vehicles. The power doesn’t go to the Centre of the car before the back and front axles. As 4WD vehicles are made for off roading, they are mostly strong. 

What Is Powertrain In An Ev

An EV’s powertrain transfers the energy from the battery system of the car to its motors. A fully loaded vehicle needs high power to move it, so the power delivery has to be swift and reliable. 

Here are the powertrain parts in an EV that drives it forward:

  • Electric motor 
  • Battery management system 
  • Thermal management system  
  • Body control module 
  • DC-AC converter 
  • DC-DC converter  
  • On-board charger 
  • Battery pack 

Signs Your Powertrain Is Not Working Properly

The proper functioning of powertrain components is important. You might notice a few symptoms when these components go through wear and tear. The most obvious sign is when the check engine light turns on.

You Notice A Burning Smell

If you smell any burning odor coming from inside your vehicle, it’s a red flag. The reason might be the transmission fluid inside is overheating.

You Hear Rattling Noises

Slipping, loud, or grinding noises coming out of your car when driving is a sign that the transmission is having serious issues.

Red Fluid Pooling Under The Car

If you notice that fluid is leaking and there is a pool there, the reason can be a leak in the hose or gasket in the powertrain somewhere.

Gears Are Slipping 

You should consider slipping gears of a car as a safety concern and a serious matter. When gears start to slip, there might be an issue with PCM (powertrain control module) or ECM (electronic control module (ECM). 

ECM and PCM are very important parts of the car’s computer system and control the car transmission and engine. 

When you see these obvious signs, take your car to a local mechanic. If the repair costs you more than the car’s current worth, call us for a free car valuation

The Cost of Fixing a Powertrain

The repair cost of a car’s powertrain can range anywhere between $50 and $2,600. Repairs can cost you even more if more parts need fixing.

The repair cost also depends on your car’s make and model.

Looking To Sell An Old Car? Call Us

 If you are looking to get rid of a vehicle with powertrain problems, get in touch with us. We offer unwanted car removal for all types of vehicles, big or small, runner or non-runner. 

And there’s more! We provide free car towing at your doorstep with free paperwork. Request a free quote now!