A Familiarization of Drivetrain Components

An efficient, durable, and quiet running drivetrain is as essential to customer satisfaction as styling and interior creature comforts. In this e-Seminar, you will be exposed to various methods that can be used to accomplish this goal. Designed to help you visualize both individual components and the entire drivetrain system - without reference to complicated equations - this e-seminar focuses on the terms, functions, nomenclature, operating characteristics and effect on vehicle performance for each of the drivetrain components. Instructor Joseph Palazzolo provides an introduction to the various components of the drivetrain, including the clutch or torque converter, manual or automatic transmission, driveshaft, axle, wheel ends, and brakes.

The course presentation also provides insight into: the structure and function of each component; vehicle performance; and related noise, vibration and harshness issues. You will be equipped to evaluate the space requirements, mounting needs, clearances required, and effect on vehicle performance for each component.

Based on the popular classroom seminar, the five and a quarter hour course is divided into seven modules accompanied by a handbook.

What Will You Learn

By participating in this course, you will be able to:
  • Discuss both practical and technical aspects of smoothing clutch operation by incorporating cushion and torsional dampers
  • Compare different types of transmission synchronizers, automatic transmission torque converters, hydraulic clutch operation and epicyclic gear trains
  • Describe the interaction of gear ratios and vehicle performance as related to engine horsepower and torque curves
  • Explain phasing and mounting of propeller shafts as related to torsional excitation and secondary couple loads
  • Review different types of differentials
  • Compare common misconceptions of limited slip devices to their actual performance
  • Recognize four-wheel drive systems and the need for an inter-axle differential
  • Appraise electronic control of torque through braking and clutching devices
  • Evaluate the total drivetrain package as a system

Course Information

5.25 Hours
90 Days

Is This Course For You

This e-Seminar was intended for engineers now working with passenger car, sport utility, truck, bus, industrial, and off-highway vehicles who have had minimal prior experience with the total drivetrain. An engineering undergraduate degree in any discipline would be beneficial.

This course satisfies a requirement in the Transmission/Drivetrain Certificate Program.

Have colleagues who need this course? See Special Offers to the right.

Click on the Requirements tab to make sure you are properly equipped to interact with this course.

Materials Provided

  • 90 days of online single-user access (from date of purchase) to the 5 hour course
  • Links to streaming video modules
  • Course handbook (downloadable, .pdf's)
  • Instructor follow up to your content questions <\li>
  • 0.5 CEUs*/Certificate of Achievement (upon completion of all course content and a score of 70% or higher on the learning assessment)
*SAE International is authorized by IACET to offer CEUs for this course.

Course Requirements

  • Windows 7, 8, 10 (other operating systems and mobile platforms are not supported but may work)
  • Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox 37+ , Google Chrome 42+ (other browsers are not supported)
  • Broadband-1Mbps minimum


Click on each topic for an expanded view.
  • Clutches [Total Run Time: 1 hour]
    • Explain the function of a manual transmission clutch system
    • Identify all the components of the clutch system and their function
    • Calculate clutch torque capacity and explain the significance of each parameter
    • Explain the difference between pull and push type clutch actuation systems
    • Identify the different clutch pedal travel positions
    • Troubleshoot common clutch problems and potential solutions
  • Transmission [Total Run Time: 58 minutes]
    • Explain the functionality of torque multiplication and its relationship to speed
    • Identify the components that compromise manual and automatic transmissions
    • Explain the need and function for energy absorbing devices like synchronizers and clutches
    • Graphically illustrate the underlying fundamentals of gearing and multi-speed transmission powerflow
    • Describe the basic function of fluid couplings
  • Propshaft[Total Run Time: 50 minutes]
    • Define the primary function of prophafts
    • Explain lead-lag phenomenon of single cardan joints and phasing to correct
    • Explain the difference between static and dynamic balance
    • Interpret the concept to constant velocity joints
  • Axle[Total Run Time: 59 minutes]
    • Distinguish the different drive gear types
    • Define the need for differentials and their function in the a vehicle
    • Explain the inherent pros and cons of open differentials versus limited slip
    • Identify the axle wheel end types along with common complaints and concerns
  • Transfer Case[Total Run Time: 17 minutes]
    • List the different types of All-Wheel Drive Systems
    • Compare and contrast the different modes of operation and their use
    • Identify typical transfer case design parameters
  • Wheel Ends[Total Run Time: 5 minutes]
    • Explain the difference between live and dead spindle
    • Name the requirements for wheel end bearing packages
  • Brakes[Total Run Time: 55 minutes]
    • Explain the basic brake system function
    • Identify the different types of line routing methods and why
    • Define the basic function of the master cylinder, brake booster, calipers, and wheel cylinders
    • Compare and contrast disc versus drum brake systems
    • Articulate the basic function and concept of anti-lock brake systems