What is a Torque Converter?

Torque converters are an essential element of automobiles with an automatic transmission, serving to transfer rotational power from the power source to the load. In an automobile, the power source and load are the internal combustion engine and turbine, respectively. Without a torque converter, the vehicle would be incapable of coming to a complete stop without adjusting the transmission. In this blog, we will discuss the design and functionality of torque converters, allowing you to better understand their use in automobile applications.

Torque converters often come in one of two variations, those being lock-up and non-lock-up types. Lock-up torque converters are the most commonly found variations for modern automobiles, and they feature a built-in locking clutch mechanism. With this design, the torque converter can lock indirect connections between input and output shafts when a certain speed or engine RPM is met. The non-lock-up torque converter is an older variation of such technology, lacking the mechanism to lock. As a result, power loss will be exhibited as power is transferred between the engine and transmission.

Before one can truly understand how a torque converter works, it is important to be aware of the various parts and components that typically make them up. Impellers and pumps are a common aspect of torque converters, and they are attached to the housing and engine shaft. Rotating alongside the engine, centrifugal force will cause automatic transmission fluid to move towards the turbine blade assembly. Between the turbine and impeller are stators, and they serve to manage any fluid that is returning from the turbine, ensuring that it enters the impeller in the direction of rotation for the means of multiplying torque. To do this, the stator is mounted in a way that directs fluids with a change of 90 degrees.

The turbine itself is attached to the automatic transmission’s input shafts, allowing it to sit against the side of the engine. To effectively control the direction of fluid entering the assembly, turbine blades follow a specific design with curves and angles. As fluid enters into the turbine blade assembly, the blades will rotate in the same direction of the impeller. With each revolution of the turbine, the input shaft of the transmission will be driven so that the vehicle can move.

Torque converters follow three phases of operation, including stall, acceleration, and coupling. The stall refers to when the vehicle is stationary and braked, and this occurs as the engine applies power to the impeller without spinning the turbine. During the acceleration phase, turbine speed will increase at a disproportionate rate as compared to the impeller. With increases in turbine speed, the torque multiplier will decrease. Coupling is a condition in which the turbine has almost reached the impeller speed. At this point, the lock-up clutch will lock the turbine to the impeller so that they move in unison.

With the role that torque converters play in automatic transmission automobiles, it is important that they are regularly inspected and maintained for optimal efficiency. NSN Sphere is a trusted distributor of aircraft parts and other component types, presenting customers access to an unparalleled inventory of items that have been sourced from leading global manufacturers that we trust. With our peerless dedication to quality control, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. Take the time to explore our massive set of offerings at your leisure, and our team of industry experts is always on standby to assist you through the purchasing process however necessary. Get in contact with a representative today and see why customers choose to steadily rely on NSN Sphere for all their operational needs.


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February 3, 2022

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