How does the drivetrain work in a car?

Giulia Nigrini
Giulia Nigrini
Vehicle Service Contract Specialist, Traveler, Car Enthusiast
November 11, 2021
min. read
close up of the grill and hood of a red ford mustang

When you are on the search for an extended car warranty or you are getting repairs done on your car, you have probably come across the term drivetrain before. Do you know what the drivetrain of your car is or how the drivetrain functions? Well, in this blog we are going to look at the components that make up the drivetrain, how the drivetrain works, and the extended car warranties available.

What does the drivetrain do in your car?

The purpose of the car’s drivetrain is to transfer power from the engine to the drive wheels so to control the amount of torque (twisting force experienced by the vehicle). This is essential to the car because this process is what gets the wheels rolling.

What are the drivetrain components?

The drivetrain has to do with the driving or moving aspect of your car, putting it in its simplest terms. The parts that make up the drivetrain are the transmission, driveshaft, axles, CV joint, U joint, and differentials. Each of which contributes to the functionality of the car in its own way and together work to convey power to the drive wheels. Let’s take a deeper look at each part and how they contribute to moving the car.


Car’s with different transmission types require slightly different parts but ultimately need to achieve the same goal. The transmission allows for gear selection according to the driver’s needs. And through the rest of the drivetrain, transfer the power to the drive wheels (referring to the wheels that propel the car forward – Front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive).  


The driveshaft is a long steel tube that connects the transmission to the wheels and transfers the mechanical power to the other components of the drivetrain. Ultimately assisting in transferring the much-needed torque to the drive wheels.  


The front and rear axles are hugely important in your car. They support the weight of the car and manage the power going to the wheels. The axle shafts deliver power directly to the wheels from the final drive assembly (where differentials play a big role).  


As the power travels through your car’s drivetrain it makes a final stop at the differentials before the wheels begin spinning. When driving around a corner, the wheels on the outside need to travel faster than the wheels on the inside of the corner. The differential allows for the wheels to travel at different speeds while still supplying power to the wheels. Increasing control while cornering.

CV Joints

Constant velocity joints are attached to the driveshaft. They are designed to be able to move in any direction to be able to turn the drive wheels at a constant speed. Allowing for smooth transitions between acceleration and deceleration.

U Joints

Universal joints allow for varying angles of the driveshaft by transmitting power as a flexible coupling connector.

The difference between the powertrain and the drivetrain

The terms powertrain and drivetrain are often used interchangeably as they refer to overlapping components of the car. As we have detailed above, the drivetrain components are those that work to keep the car driving; this includes the transmission, driveshaft, axles, CV joint, U joint, and differentials. All focusing on getting power to the drive wheels. The powertrain includes all the drivetrain parts as well as the power source, in most vehicles today that would be the engine.

Extended Car Warranties

An extended car warranty is a vehicle service contract meant to give you the peace of mind that your most important mechanical components are covered.

The warranty plans are available in two main categories; powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranties. The powertrain plans offer coverage for the powertrain drive of your car. This is all the parts we detailed above as well as the engine. While bumper-to-bumper warranties are comprehensive cover plans that will include other parts like the electrical system.

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