What is the Automatic Transmission Torque Converter, and How Does it Work?
If you drive an automatic, you don’t have to think about a clutch or switching gears. But you might have to worry about your car’s torque converter: an often unnoticed, but critical part of most automatic transmissions.
What Exactly is “Torque”?
Put simply, torque refers to a twisting force that causes an object to rotate. In automobile terms, it’s the amount of energy that’s transferred from an engine to the moving parts of the car. The torque converter is the device that translates generated energy into motion as the driver increases or decreases acceleration. It’s a somewhat small, round device, anywhere from 7-12 inches in diameter, located between the transmission and the engine. Because of the hole in its middle, it’s often referred to as a “donut.” Dual-clutch transmissions don’t have torque converters.
In its essence, torque is the twisting force causing an object to rotate. In automotive terms, it represents the energy transferred from the engine to the moving parts of a car. The torque converter plays the pivotal role of converting this generated energy into motion as the driver adjusts acceleration. This device sits between the engine and the transmission. Notably, dual-clutch transmissions lack torque converters.
Is Your Torque Converter Healthy?
Diagnosing a faulty converter might be difficult at first, because the symptoms could point to other problems with the transmission. The early signs could be leaking transmission fluid, slippage between gears, slow acceleration, unusual noises, or engine overheating, most of which will probably cause the “check engine” light to come on. And if torque isn’t controlled properly, the ride will be rough and jerky as gears won’t shift properly.
Fixing the Problem
Depending on what’s wrong, the solution to a bad converter is fairly straightforward. One of the several parts—the stator, impeller pump, turbine, bearings, clutch, or clutch solenoid—may need to be replaced. If leaking fluid is the culprit, replacing a seal could solve the problem. The cost of torque converters or their parts isn’t terribly expensive, but unfortunately it’s labor-intensive, as the entire transmission may have to be removed in order to make repairs or replacements.
Should I Be Concerned?
Any transmission-related problem should get attention as soon as possible. Unreliable shifting can lead to accidents, or, in the case of a fluid leak, your car may experience serious damage if the issue isn’t addressed. At the very least, poor torque converters may result in poor fuel economy—and with today’s gas prices, that’s something you want to avoid.
Help’s Around the Corner
If you need help with your transmission, Sun Transmissions has what you need. Offering a full range of top-quality automatic transmission parts and equipment, such as TSS parts, solenoid parts, transmission Overhaul kits, and more, Sun Transmissions also has the best in power steering parts and many auto accessories. Visit our Miami location or place an order online.
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