Powertrain, Drivetrain, Driveline: What’s the Difference?

Powertrain, Drivetrain, and Driveline

You may have heard the terms “powertrain” and “drivetrain” (and sometimes even “driveline”) used interchangeably. While these are all related to the fundamental operations that move or “drive” a vehicle, they are not exactly the same.

Driveline – Includes components such as the driveshaft, differential(s), transfer case, axle shafts, U-joints, and CV joints.

Drivetrain – Includes all components of the driveline, as well as the transmission.

Powertrain – Includes all components of the driveline, as well as the transmission and engine.

As you can see, these terms all include some of the same parts and ultimately work towards the same function, which may explain some of the confusion. While most people are likely familiar with the functions of the engine (convert fuel into energy) and the transmission (adjust gear ratio between engine and drive wheels as the vehicle slows and accelerates), they may not be as familiar with the parts of the driveline.

Driveline Components

Driveshaft – The driveshaft connects the transmission and is responsible for transferring power to the driveline.

Differential – Differentials are used to control power to individual drive wheels on either side of a vehicle, allowing them to rotate at different speeds. Front-wheel and rear-wheel drive vehicles have one differential (in the front or back, respectively), while all-wheel drive vehicles will have differentials for all wheels.

Transfer Case – In 4-wheel drive vehicles, transfer cases are responsible for controlling the torque for all four wheels.

Axle Shafts – Axle shafts connect each wheel to the differential from either side, rotating independently based on the torque received from the differential.

U-Joints – U-joints or universal joints are flexible pivot points that allow the driveshaft to function at various angles as torque is being transferred.

CV Joints – Constant velocity (CV) joints are part of the driveshaft that can bend in different directions while still allowing the wheels to turn at a constant velocity.

Parts at Iron Wing Sales

That is a basic overview of the differences regarding powertrains, drivetrains, and drivelines, as well as the parts they consist of.  Looking for replacement parts? Iron Wing Sales has a large inventory of powertrain parts for both Heavy Duty Truck and Heavy Equipment. All of our parts are In-Stock and Ready-to-Ship. Search our inventory by part #, category, or manufacturer. For further assistance, contact us at: sales@ironwingsales.com or 216-912-9089.

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