What Does Powertrain Mean and Why it is Important

Regardless of whether you drive a truck, SUV, or passenger car, you are going to hear a term that might be confusing. Powertrain is one of the many words that most consumers hear but don’t understand. While it might seem like a good idea to ignore it or pretend that you understand when you don’t, it’s always better to learn about these things so that you are prepared and understand an essential component of your vehicle.

What is a Powertrain?

The definition of powertrain is a mechanism that transmits your drive from your engine to the axles of the vehicle. It usually includes the axles and engine as well as other components. If that didn’t make much sense to you, you aren’t alone. Most people are highly confused, but it is easy to learn more about the powertrain.

In a sense, the powertrain includes all the necessary mechanical components that propel your vehicle forward, which includes the axles, transmission, and many others.


The transmission is your gearbox and makes the engine work. The intricacies aren’t easy to explain, but it all translates to getting your engine’s rotation to be a usable force. The transmission is there to control all the power according to the input that you select. You can choose park, neutral, reverse, or forward gears.


The engine is the primary power force behind your vehicle and is what makes it start, run, and do what you want it to do. The engine itself is made of a variety of parts, including cylinders, pistons, and the crankshaft. The cylinders produce controlled explosions, which are used to force the pistons down and upwards, which causes the crankshaft to quickly rotate. The engine uses hundreds of moving parts that must all work together to produce torque and power to move the vehicle forward or backward.


The axles are usually called drive-shafts, and they work to direct the power from your transmission to the wheels of the vehicle. Many times, a differential is used to help change the directions of your power to latitudinal from longitudinal. The differential and direction of power makes the drive wheels turn the right way to move you forward, backward, or keep you in one spot (neutral).

Why is the Powertrain Essential?

The parts of the powertrain are one of the most crucial components for vehicle operation because, without them, you can’t go anywhere. If the powertrain experiences a problem, you could end up broken down on the side of the road.

Then, What is a Drivetrain?

Now that you’re familiar with the powertrain, you may wonder what a drivetrain is, seeing as it is a term used often, as well. In most cases, people use the terms interchangeably, though that isn’t exactly true or accurate.

The drivetrain includes the wheels, transmission, axles, and driveshaft and works to move the wheels. To do that, the transmission is an essential component.


While these two components are different, they work together to move the car. The transmission’s main function is to keep the engine turning correctly with the wheels of the car, regardless of the gear you are in. The drivetrain focuses on all components behind the transmission that propel the vehicle.

Components of the drivetrain can also include CV joints and the differential.

The powertrain, by contrast, includes anything that makes the vehicle move while the drivetrain focuses on connecting the transmission and engine to the axles. Along with such, the driveline is also a valuable part of the vehicle and includes everything in your chain from the drive wheels to the engine. However, the drivetrain only consists of things after the transmission, such as wheels, driveshafts, joints, differentials, and axles.


What Does Powertrain Mean and Why it is Important

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