Why is a differential required for cars


Powertrain definition: The components engine, clutch, gearbox, drive shaft and axle differential are collectively referred to as the drive train. Their task is to get the vehicle moving with the power generated by the engine.

The engine is often considered to be the heart of a car. But without the use of the clutch, gearbox, drive shaft and axle differentials, a conventional car would not move. The power generated by the engine is only transferred to the road when all these drive train components interact.

Powertrain structure: This is how the components interact

In the combustion engine, thermal energy is converted into mechanical work. The pressure of the combustion gases acts on the pistons, which move up and down in the cylinder. They set the crankshaft in rotating motion via the connecting rod.

But the inertia of a stationary vehicle counteracts this, the stationary wheels would act back via the crankshaft and literally slow down the pistons in the engine.

With the clutch, on the other hand, the engine can be separated from the rest of the drive train. The torque of the rotating crankshaft is "dragged" into the drive train when it starts up, thus overcoming the inertia without stalling the engine. In addition to pure power transmission, the clutch also has the additional task of decoupling vibrations between the engine and the transmission.

Now the transmission comes into play, which provides several gear steps for driving. Thanks to the different gear steps of the transmission, the engine remains in a certain speed and consumption corridor while it provides propulsion.

The drive forces are transmitted to the axle differential via the drive shaft. These components, also known as “axle drives”, have a rigid gear ratio - that is, not provided with gear steps - which ideally transfers the drive forces to the wheels.

The requirements for the drive train are of course quite extensive. The drive train should:

  • transfer the engine power,
  • distribute the driving force to the wheels,
  • work reliably and comfortably at the same time,
  • wear out little,
  • and work quietly and as efficiently as possible.

You can find out more about the individual powertrain components below: