How Your Differential and Drivetrain Work Together

When you enjoy a smooth ride around Minneapolis, MN, your drivetrain and differential are quietly doing their job. These components form the system that transfers rotational power from your engine to your car’s wheels. When you understand how it all works, you’re more likely to catch the small clues that indicate potentially big problems.

Is It Part of the Engine?

The drivetrain system harnesses rotational motion generated by your engine’s crankshaft and conducts torque from the transmission to the rear wheels. However, it’s not an actual engine part. While most cars operate with this basic rear-drive configuration, some models feature front-wheel drive. In both setups, the parts are connected to the engine, but they aren’t part of the engine mechanism.

How Does This Work?

As torque moves from your car engine to the wheels, the final transfer of energy into motion happens through the differential. The melon-shaped component between rear wheels refines this critical part of the driving process by allowing left and right wheels to move at different speeds.

When the system operates properly, you turn corners safely without noticing that one rear wheel slows down and prevents the car from going into a skid. You also enjoy better braking and steering control.

What Are Common Signs of Trouble?

Different system parts can develop different symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. While some signs of trouble are specific to rear- and front-drive assemblies, most common clues are shared by both types of systems.

These are some of the problems cause by a faulty drivetrain:

  • Unbalanced components often cause rattling or clunking noises.
  • Vibrations from under the car are also signs of imbalances in the system.
  • Damage from loose components can result in transmission fluid leaks.

Always pay attention to these signs of potential differential problems:

  • Oil leaking directly under the axle is usually coming from a system part.
  • Odd smells are indicators of oil deteriorating inside the mechanism.
  • Worn components can cause car-wide vibrations that increase with speed.
  • Failing system parts often produce loud rattles or whirs especially when turning corners.

We’re at Your Service

When your car’s performance doesn’t seem right, don’t take any chances. We want every drive you make to be as smooth and safe as possible. Our ace mechanics are always ready to help at our Minneapolis, MN auto care center. Just give us a call or stop by any of our convenient Kennedy Transmission locations across the state.

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