Your Powertrain Explained – How It All Works

August 19th, 2016 by

Vehicles aren’t getting any simpler these days. Although controls might be more intuitive and switches and buttons place more ergonomically, every facet of new vehicles is increasingly engineered and complex in its design. Nowhere is that more evident than in the powertrain.

It wasn’t so long ago — just 4 short decades — that engines had a life expectancy of only 30,000 miles before they required a complete rebuild. Transmissions weren’t far behind, either, and specialists made their living overhauling these major powertrain components. Now, whether you drive a Toyota or any other make, engines and transmissions can last almost indefinitely with proper maintenance with 300,000 miles being common and a few examples reaching a million miles!

What is the powertrain?

Your Toyota’s powertrain is the sum of the parts required for it to propel itself in mechanical motion. Typically, that includes the engine and transmission and driveshafts. On all-wheel drive vehicles that includes the transfer case and rear differential, which is the same for 4WD trucks also.

How it works:

  • The heartbeat of your powertrain is the engine. The fuel and air that burn in the engine force pistons up and down, rotating the crankshaft.
  • The transmission converts the engine’s rotation into usable energy. Through a series of gears, clutches, and electrical components, the energy is manipulated to provide force in the direction you want to go.
  • On all-wheel drive and 4WD vehicles, the transfer case splits the power from the transmission between the front and rear wheels. Some can be shifted as you see fit while others are automatically controlled.
  • The driveshaft transmits power to the wheels. Depending on your Toyota’s design, it could be from the transmission or the transfer case. The driveshaft may go to a differential that changes the direction from longitudinal to latitudinal.
  • The rotation of the driveshafts (or axle shafts) rotates the wheels, making your vehicle move either in forward or reverse.

With Toyota Hybrid vehicles, you may think things get a little tricky. They aren’t though — the electric motor provides the same function as a gas motor, so it’s included in the powertrain as well.

Knowing what your powertrain includes is important because your powertrain warranty is longer than your new vehicle coverage — it’s 5 years or 60,000 miles. If you have a hybrid, those HV components are even longer at 8 years or 100,000 miles. It’s all because Toyota powertrains are among the most reliable in the world, and we back them for longer for that reason.

If you need more information on your vehicle, or if you’re experiencing issues that need attention, contact the experts at Jay Wolfe Toyota. You’ll get the best customer care and Toyota repairs and service you’ll find anywhere.

Posted in Maintenance, Service, Toyota