Automatic transmissions are, to many, a mysterious aspect of automotive mechanics. Torque converters, on the same hand, are a mystery shrouded within a mystery. Here’s a basic rundown of how torque converters work, and how to know if yours is failing, from Autoworks in Ithaca, NY.
Essentially, a torque converter isn’t much more than a fluid coupling device. Consider two fans facing each other; When you power one fan up, it blows air onto the other fan, which forces the blades on that fan to begin turning as well. Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but this is the principle theory behind how a torque converter works - only, instead of air providing motion, transmission fluid is the medium of transfer.
Your engine spins the torque converter. As the engine spins faster, it applies exponentially increasing force to the turbine, which spins the input shaft of your transmission, and your wheels start to turn. Most torque converters are also equipped with a lockup piston, which “locks up” the torque converter, increasing the efficiency of power output.
So where does it go wrong? While torque converters are overall reliable and durable, there are issues that occasionally surface. The fins that direct and receive fluid can become distorted, bent, or separated internally, dramatically decreasing the performance and efficiency of the torque converter. The lining on the lockup piston can become worn or separated, causing it to slip, or the piston plate itself can become warped or broken. The housing can also become distorted or cracked, leaking fluid and causing a variety of problems. Issues typically arise as a result of age, overheating, or prolonged use in power applications or towing.
Whatever the cause, issues manifest themselves in different ways. Bad torque converters will slip, fail to engage at the correct engine RPM, grind and make other noises at idle or at speed, and so on. Often a failing torque converter will seem like total transmission failure; an indicator of the importance of this component.
If you’re experiencing torque converter issues, and for all your other maintenance and repair needs, our professional technicians and transmission specialists have you covered. For the best transmission service shop in Ithaca, NY, call or stop by Autoworks today.
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