What is a torque converter?

Published Date: 9th Jun 2023

Image of a Car Interior and GearboxThe torque converter is crucial in a car's automatic transmission, enabling power transfer from the engine to the wheels. Drivers who want to maintain a consistently high level of performance for their vehicle should have a working knowledge of this pivotal component. Understanding its function, mechanics, and maintenance requirements is essential for optimal driving experiences.

A torque converter is a hydraulic coupling used to transfer rotational power from an internal combustion engine, or a prime mover, to a rotating driven load in vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. It calmly connects the power source to the load and typically sits between the transmission and the engine's flywheel. In essence, a manual transmission's clutch performs the equivalent function.


How does a torque converter work?


The torque converter comprises three key elements: the pump, responsible for the propulsion of transmission fluid; the turbine, which harnesses the energy of the fluid; and the stator, which redirects the fluid back to the pump.



The pump rotates while the engine is running, generating centrifugal force that transmits fluid towards the turbine. The turbine, in turn, rotates as it interacts with the fluid, while the stator redirects the fluid back to the pump, facilitating a consistent power flow.




Benefits of a torque converter?


Image of a Gear SelectorThe advantages of driving with a torque converter are numerous. Its ability to deliver up to 2.5 times more torque when shifting gears leads to improved fuel economy. Secondly, it accelerates smoother by gradually transmitting power from the engine to the wheels. Lastly, it reduces wear and tear on the engine and transmission due to its cushioning effect on sudden speed changes.



What are the common problems with torque converters?


Unfortunately, there are several recurrent issues associated with using torque converters. These include worn or damaged bearings resulting in wobbling or eventual failure. Leakage from the seals can additionally lead to less efficient performance and loss of transmission fluid. Clogged filters could restrict fluid flow, with similar outcomes. Other potential issues are overheating and premature failure due to improper levels and unexpected breakdowns from the faulty installation.



What happens if a torque converter fails?



If you experience these symptoms, having your vehicle towed to a qualified mechanic is important to check the torque converter. A faulty torque converter can cause severe harm to your vehicle; thus, it is imperative to have it repaired at the earliest possible opportunity.


Signs of a failing torque converter:



Don't turn a blind eye to these warning signs! Getting your torque converter examined by a certified mechanic is highly recommended.


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