Getting to Know Your Auto Drivetrain

The auto drivetrain can be one of the most expensive and difficult parts of a car to repair. That is because the drivetrain consists of everything that converts the power of the engine into forward motion, such as the engine and gear box. However, the good news is that following a regular maintenance routine on the drivetrain will keep it working flawlessly for the lifetime of the car. By checking out strange sounds from the engine as soon as you hear it, you will be able to repair most problems before they turn into expensive repairs.

The Main Parts of a Drivetrain

Every component from the engine to the wheels can be considered the drivetrain because they are the parts making the car move. So by that definition, the engine, transmission, differential, and even the wheels are part of the drivetrain. Still, in the strictest sense, the drivetrain is just the engine and the transmission; some people only think of the transmission as the drivetrain. But the general consensus is that the engine is part of that equation too, since it is the essential power driving the car forward, hence the term drivetrain.

Basic Maintenance Techniques for the Drivetrain

There are several maintenance rules that will ensure your drivetrain will function perfectly as time passes. The maintenance intervals may vary from one car manufacturer to another, but the techniques are the same. First, you will need to change the oil and oil filter every 5,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. Second, you will need to change the air filter at least once per year. You should also make a point to check the transmission fluid and change it when it turns from its natural pink to gray. In most cars, that may only happen every two years, but you might have to change it once a year or every three years depending on the car model and your driving style.

Possible Upgrades to a Drivetrain

There are hundreds of upgrades you can perform on the drivetrain depending on the type of engine you have. Still, most engines will perform better if you install a sports air filter or even a turbo system, or if your car already has one, by upgrading your existing one. If your car has an ECU, then simply upgrading it may give you more horsepower. You will also need to upgrade the ECU if you do any other type of upgrading, like installing a new turbocharger, so that the on-board computer will know how to best use it.

First Things to Give out on a Drivetrain

There are several gaskets on an engine that will eventually give out, but the one under the rocker cover will be among the first. The spark plug leads will eventually wear out, particularly if they run close to the engine and are constantly exposed to the heat. Almost every plastic or rubber part of the engine will eventually have to be changed quite a few times before the actual metal parts give out. However, that depends solely on how well you maintain your engine, because without constant oil changes, both the transmission and the engine could give out just as quickly as the rubber parts.

You should think of the auto drivetrain like the very essence of the car. Rust on the body of the car can be cured and you can change the upholstery entirely after a decade or so of use, but the drivetrain needs to work flawlessly for the lifetime of the car. The good news is that as long as you bought a good car, and you have followed all the regular maintenance rules set by the manufacturer, you should be able to enjoy your car for well over 20, 30, or even 40 years. Just make sure to be very careful about any squeaks that may appear over time and have a mechanic investigate them from the first time you notice them.