What’s the Difference Between Powertrain and Drivetrain?

A black Ford F150 hauling a silver Airstream RV through a mountain pass

What are the differences between drivetrain and powertrain? Put simply, the drivetrain gives power to the wheels. The powertrain is made up of the motor and the drivetrain.

Powertrain & Drivetrain

You might not know off the top of your head what the advantages are of comparing a drivetrain vs. powertrain however when you recognize the differences between the two, it will provide you the advantage when vehicle purchasing, checking out the technician, or when Alex Trebek asks you a Jeopardy question about vehicle components that make cars move.

Basically, powertrains and drivetrains essentially do the exact same thing. They produce kinetic energy to make your vehicle ‘go’. Now, chances are that you have never really thought about how vital these moving components are. They’re the unsung heroes that get you from point A to point B and they each operate in their very own one-of-a-kind method.

What are the Drivetrain Parts?

Many times the terms ‘drivetrain’ and ‘powertrain’ are used interchangeably however, contrary to popular belief, they are not the exact same. So exactly what is the difference between powertrain elements and drivetrain components? The greatest distinction is the way power is created and distributed to the car.

A drivetrain is not really a single part of your car – it’s a group of drivetrain parts that interact with the engine to move the wheels and various parts of the vehicle to thrust it into motion. These parts often include the transmission, differential, driveshaft, axles, CV joints, and the wheels.

Drivetrain: How Does it work?

This is the order in which power is generated and provided by a drivetrain:

  • The engine will produce energy to power a flywheel
  • That flywheel works with the transmission to control the amount of power dispersed to various other parts of the drivetrain
  • The driveshaft spins to produce power to a differential
  • After that the differential supplies power from all those driveshaft parts and boom … your wheels are in motion

What’s in A Powertrain?

If you understood the drivetrain fundamentals, the powertrain basics ought to be an easy idea to grasp, because of the reality that there is only one defining variable that sets them apart. That factor is the engine. In a powertrain, the engine is a part of the many moving elements. If you keep in mind from the paragraph above, the drivetrain works with the engine.

The powertrain includes every moving component that is critical to the car’s success. It’s sole objective is transforming kinetic energy into propulsion motion. If one of these components fail your car may experience some unusual rattling, or shaking.