How Do Torque Converters Work?

Since the advent of automobiles with automatic transmissions, drivers no longer need to worry about utilizing a clutch to switch gears and avoid stalls during stops. While the clutch is no longer a part of standard automobile assemblies, there are still components that provide its functionality in connecting the power source to the load. Known as a Torque Converter, the fluid coupling takes place of the clutch in automatic vehicles in order to transfer rotational power to the transmission as to prevent stalls and assist the transmission through changing speeds.

Nestled between the engine and the transmission, the doughnut-shaped torque converter assembly is placed. For its functionality, a vehicular torque converter relies on a standard set of components which include a pump, turbine, stator, and transmission fluid. With the pump, torque control of the vehicle can be achieved through having fluid sent throughout the assembly, and its path and speed is dictated by the rotation of the crankshaft. Coupled with the impeller, transmission fluid is pumped through the turbine fins, causing them to revolve. By harnessing this mechanical motion, torque can be transferred to the transmission. With the use of the stator, transmission fluids are retained inside of the turbine, rather than returned to the pump. This method of fluid retention within the turbine is highly beneficial, as it increases the overall efficiency of the system.

During stages at which the car is idle, transmission fluids are slowly pumped into the turbine so that there is little torque provided to the transmission. To increase torque for the transmission as the car begins to move, the crankshaft is sped up alongside the flywheel, and this results in a faster supply of fluids to drive the turbine. As such, the torque converter assembly is capable of multiplying toque when the output rotational speed is low, causing fluid to deflect off of the stator during times in which it is locked against the one-way clutch. As such, the torque converter can act as a Reduction gear, which is an ability that most conventional fluid couplings do not have.

While the torque converter assembly is advanced in its capabilities as compared to its manual transmission counterpart, the apparatus may still face various problems which should always be resolved as soon as they arise. If the torque converter faces a great amount of slippage, the Torque Converter housing may begin to overheat, causing the elastomer seals to become damaged. As a result, transmission fluids may begin to leak from the system, causing the assembly as a whole to lose functionality.

Another possible issue that torque converters may face is the braking or seizing of the stator clutch. When this occurs, the clutch’s outer elements may become locked permanently, causing fuel to be burned less efficiently. If the stator is fully broken, the power of the vehicle may be lost as the stator spins freely. Due to the fact that the torque converter assembly is often overlooked by many automobile owners, it is crucial that they are often inspected and maintained to avoid major issues and repairs.


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