An Inside Look at 3 Types of Drivetrains for Students in Auto Mechanic Training
January 29, 2016
Unfortunately, drivetrains are one of the least understood parts of a vehicle among the general public. As a result, this means that drivetrain issues tend to occur frequently. Therefore, it’s crucial that auto mechanics understand the difference between the common systems, in order to help them identify the root causes of mechanical problems and advise drivers on how best to care for their vehicles.
In a nutshell, a drivetrain is the system which connects an engine to the wheels of a car. The three most common types are front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive systems.
Front Wheel Drive: Car Repair Training Advises Students on Crowded Engine Compartments
In a front-wheel drive vehicle, all of the engine power is directed into the two front wheels, effectively pulling the car. The transmission and differential in a FWD are mounted on a transaxle just underneath the engine. Having the components close together makes the system simpler and cheaper to maintain, although students in car repair training often find servicing the overcrowded engine compartment difficult.
The clustered system also means more space in the passenger compartment. This, coupled with the fact that FWD is more reliable during the winter months, makes it very much the preferred choice for most low and mid-priced cars, such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Nonetheless, FWD drivers often experience increased wear on their front tires and suspension, and can find that the steering more unpredictable at high speeds.
Rear Wheel Drive Systems: A Top Choice For Luxury Auto Manufacturers
In a rear wheel system, the transmission is connected directly to the engine, but the differential unit is on the rear axle, connected by the driveshaft allowing power to flow towards it so that the rear wheels effectively push the car.
RWDs generally have better handling and braking capabilities due to their even weight distribution, but as auto mechanic training students learn, they often offer poor traction on wetter surfaces. Nonetheless, as it offers a better overall driving experience, RWD is often the choice for high-end manufacturers such as BMW and Porsche, who use sophisticated electronic controls to compensate for reliability issues.
All Wheel Drive: Car Repair Training Students Know The Pros and Cons
All-wheel drive systems, where both the front and rear axles are powered, are becoming increasingly more popular. The axles rotate at different speeds unless driving in a straight line, so AWDs have differential controls which direct power to the wheels with most traction. Crossovers, such as the BMW X series, usually have a bias towards either the front or rear axle.
AWD offer better traction and driving dynamics on a variety surfaces. However, as there are more components in a typical AWD system, it requires more maintenance and also weighs more, leading to higher repair and gas costs.
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