What's Under Your Car's Floorboard? Drivetrain Quiz


By: Maria Trimarchi

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

What the heck is a drivetrain? Take this quiz, if you know!

A drivetrain is a set of parts in a vehicle that deliver power to the wheels. Without a drivetrain, your car would go nowhere. It just couldn't move. In most definitions of a drivetrain, the engine is not included in the components that make up this important system. However, when you're speaking about a powertrain, the engine is included - a powertrain includes both the engine and the drivetrain.

In general, the engine provides the power to the drivetrain, which, in turn, moves the parts that connect to and move the axle, typically via a drive shaft or propeller shaft. The shaft is necessary because the engine and the axle are, most often, at opposite ends of the vehicle. Of course, while the specific components present in a drivetrain vary according to the type of vehicle, i.e., manual transmission, automatic transmission, front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles, the overall function of the system is the same - to get power to the wheels.

If you think you are knowledgeable of your vehicle's drivetrain, you might want to take us up on our invitation to give this quiz a test drive.

What is the drivetrain's job?

The drivetrain is what moves the torque (that's what powers the car) from the car's engine to its wheels.


What does the differential, a series of gears, do?

It splits the driveline power between the axles, and allows them to rotate at different speeds, which they need to do during cornering.


What are considered the "non-driven wheels" on a front-wheel drive car?

The "non-driven wheels" on a front-wheel drive car are the rear wheels. It's the opposite for a rear-wheel drive car.


Which is better for wet-weather traction?

Front-wheel drive cars have better wet-weather traction than rear-wheel.


Which is not a component in your car's transaxle?

The components of the transaxle are the transmission, differential and axles.


What's it called when the rear wheels lose control while turning?

When the rear wheels lose control in a turn, it's called oversteer.


What basic function does the torque converter provide in an automatic transmission?

The torque converter in an automatic transmission stands in for the clutch used with a manual transmission.


What happens when you depress the clutch in a car with a manual transmission?

Pressing the clutch in a car with a manual transmission will separate the engine and the transmission.


If you find yourself driving on ice, which gear is the easiest to start out in?

You might think the lowest gear is your best option, as it often is, but starting out in second gear has less torque -- and that's good because it lowers the odds of spinning your car's wheels.


Which is a sign there's a problem with your car's drivetrain?

Difficult shifting, noisy shifting and no acceleration when you step on the gas (although your engine speeds up) are all signs of a problem with a component in your car's drivetrain.


What color liquid might you find on the ground below a leaking transmission?

If you notice a red liquid leaking on the ground under your car's transmission, it could mean there's a problem with the drivetrain.


What is a gear ratio?

The gear ratio is the fixed relationship between the initial and the final gears.


Which type of drivetrain arrangement allows for more legroom and trunk space?

Because of the layout of the drivetrain, front-wheel drive vehicles have more legroom and more trunk space than other layouts.


What type of environment is good for a front-wheel drive vehicle?

Cities, or anywhere else without long, open stretches of high-speed driving.


Which is an example of when your rear wheels move at different speeds?

Turning a corner is a common reason why your left and right rear (or front) wheels would move at different speeds: the inside wheel, as you corner, rotates faster than the outside wheel.


What is the spinning tube that connects the transmission and rear wheels?

The driveshaft is the spinning tube that connects the transmission to the differential.


Which is a type of driveshaft?

A driveshaft comes in two types, torque tube or Hotchkiss.


What is a hybrid car's battery and electric motor components of?

The battery and electric motor of a hybrid car are considered components of the powertrain.


Which type of drivetrain arrangement has been around the longest?

Rear-wheel drive has been around the longest.


Which is true about how your car's wheels spin?

All of these statements about your car's differential are true statements.


What does the transfer case in a four-wheel drive vehicle not allow for?

In a four-wheel drive vehicle, the transfer case doesn't allow for the speed between the front and rear axles to be different -- a helpful feature if you drive off road.


In which of these three common transmission types do the gear ratios continuously change based on the speed of the car?

The gear ratios in a continuously variable transmission (CVT) continuously change based on how fast or slow the car is going.


What would happen if your car didn't have a differential?

If your car didn't have a differential, the wheels would be locked in the same rotation, and it would be difficult for the car to turn.


Which has the worst fuel economy, in general?

All-wheel drive is known to have worse fuel economy than four-wheel drive and other drive systems.


Are the drivetrain and powertrain the same thing?

No, a drivetrain and a powertrain are not the same thing.


The torque converter in an automatic engine uses what kind of fluid?

Your car's torque converter uses transmission fluid.


What's it called when the front wheels lose traction while turning?

It's called understeer when a front-wheel car's front wheels lose traction while turning.


All of these are benefits of rear-wheel over front-wheel drive, except which?

The benefits of rear-wheel drive include better steering and handling, better braking and better acceleration.


When would a car have a half-shaft driveshaft?

You'd find a half-shaft on a front-wheel drive car.


What does a continuously variable transmission use instead of gears?

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) uses a belt between two pulleys to determine gear ratios.


Which is a benefit of rear-wheel drive?

Benefits of sending power to just the rear wheels includes better fuel economy than all-wheel drive.


How many differentials do all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles have?

Three. AWD vehicles have a differential for each set of wheels, a front differential and a rear differential, and, unlike 4-wheel drive vehicles, a center differential between the front and back wheels, as well.


What does a faulty drivetrain sound like?

A symptom of a drivetrain problem is a clunking sound that speeds up or slows down depending on how fast or slow you're driving.


When was the earliest use of a differential?

The first verifiable account of a differential gear used in a vehicle goes all the way back to chariots used in the Kingdom of Wei in China, 227-239 B.C.


Is a car's suspension part of the drivetrain?

The suspension system is considered part of a car's drivetrain.


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