Engine and drivetrain of a transverse-engined front-wheel drive car

The drivetrain of a motor vehicle is the group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels.[1] This excludes the engine or motor that generates the power. In contrast, the powertrain is considered to include both the engine or motor and the drivetrain.


The function of the drivetrain is to couple the engine that produces the power to the driving wheels that use this mechanical power to rotate the axle. This connection involves physically linking the two components, which may be at opposite ends of the vehicle and so requiring a long propeller shaft or drive shaft. The operating speed of the engine and wheels are also different and must be matched by the correct gear ratio. As the vehicle speed changes, the ideal engine speed must remain approximately constant for efficient operation and so this gearbox ratio must also be changed, either manually, automatically or by an automatic continuous variation.


The precise components of the drivetrain vary, according to the type of vehicle.

Some typical examples:

Manual transmission carEdit

Rear axle with hypoid bevel gear final drive

Automatic transmission carEdit

Front-wheel drive carEdit

Front wheel drive manual transaxle, showing the gearbox and final drive incorporated in the same housing

Four-wheel drive off-road vehicleEdit

Construction vehicle drivetrain, with permanent all-wheel drive

See alsoEdit

4 speed manual transmission


  1. ^ "Drivetrain". Automotive Handbook (3rd ed.). Bosch. 1993. p. 536. ISBN 0-8376-0330-7.