Automotive Torque Converters
A torque converter is a type of fluid coupling that transfer’s power from the engine to the transmission. Torque converters rely on fluid hydrodynamics to allow the engine to spin independently of the transmission. When the engine is idling, as it does when you are at a stop light, the amount of torque present in the converter is miniscule. However, there is still enough torque to necessitate pressure on the brake pedal in order to prevent the car from creeping forward. When you release the brake and press on the gas, the engine speeds up and pumps more fluid into the torque converter, resulting in more power (in the form of torque) being sent to the wheels.
Types of Torque Converter
There are three main parts of every torque converter: the impeller, turbine, and stator.
The impeller, also known as the pump, is the first part of the torque converter. The impeller is filled with fluid and spins alongside the engine crankshaft. The faster this part spins, the more force is created as fluid flows through it at higher speeds. The impeller pumps the fluid into the next section of the converter: an assembly of blades called the turbine.
The turbine is positioned opposite the impeller and rotates as fluid from the impeller hits its blades. As fluids move through the turbine engine, it is repeatedly transferred from the outer section to the inner section of the turbine before being sent back to the impeller. This ongoing re-circulation results in a fluid coupling. The coupling is achieved by the third part of the torque converter, the stator.
The stator is responsible for reversing the fluid and sending it back to the impeller. This process slows the fluid’s flow. Torque is created by reversing the fluid and sending it back to the impeller, maintaining the cycle. At this point, the fluid is moving in the opposite direction of its initial flow. This is where the stator comes into play. The stator is another series of blades found between the turbines within the transmission shaft. The stator blades are angled such that when the transmission fluids flow into them, the fluids are directed back into the impeller. When a vehicle stops, the stator’s clutch causes it to stop spinning, thereby breaking the hydrodynamic circuit.
There are three stages of operation for a torque converter.
1 .The first stage is idle. In this stage, the engine is supplying power to the impeller, but the impeller doesn’t rotate because the brakes are applied. The vehicle remains stationary, but does not stall.
2 .The second stage is acceleration, which happens when the operator removes their foot from the brake and applies the gas pedal. The impeller rotation increases, creating a large difference in impeller and turbine speed. This results in torque, and the torque converter produces torque multiplication, a necessity for acceleration.
3.The final and most important stage of the torque converter is known as coupling. This stage begins when the vehicle approaches cruising speed, where the turbine rotates at approximately the same rate as the impeller. At this point, the transmission uses a lockup clutch to join and ‘lock’ the turbine and impeller to one another. This eliminates power loss and keeps the car moving smoothly at cruising speed. As the torque converter plays such a vital role in the operation of an automobile, your torque converter parts should come from only the best sources. For FSC 3010 torque converters, look no further than ASAP Aviation Procurement.
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