Difference Between Powertrain and Drivetrain
By Laura Lee - September 14, 2022

Powertrains and drivetrains serve one basic purpose: generating sufficient kinetic energy to keep your vehicle in motion. Having a single essential purpose is why the two terms are used interchangeably. However, contrary to common perception, they are two different systems with slightly different parts.

Table Summary

A system including the engine and DrivetrainA system including multiple mechanical parts, excluding the engine
A term describing power transmission to vehicle wheelsA term describing the vehicle’s propulsion components


A powertrain comprises all elements and parts that convert the combustion from the engine to the speed required to push the vehicle. As a result, its primary function is to transmit kinetic energy from the engine into propellant motion in the wheels. If one of these components breaks, the automobile may shake or rattle. When working smoothly, however, the Powertrain ensures proper fuel and oil consumption efficiency.

A drivetrain is a group of components that work together with the engine to move and push the wheels. The transmission, differential, driveshaft, axle, CV joint, and wheels are standard components of the Powertrain. The function of the engine in the Drivetrain is to create power to drive the flywheel. The flywheel drives the transmission, which controls how much power is transferred to the rest of the Drivetrain.

Powertrain VS Drivetrain

Usually, the term powertrain accurately refers to the transmission of power to the vehicle’s wheels. The powertrain is a wider system with multiple parts, including the engine and the drivetrain. The drivetrain is also a system, but none of the parts includes the vehicle engine. The drivetrain is more ambiguous as it refers to all the vehicle’s propulsion components.

When used to explain warranty coverage, the terminology varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. In certain circumstances, the phrases imply whatever the attorneys for the makers say they mean. They decide what is included and covered by the warranty and what is not, so it is important to read the fine print. Component mechanisms also differ depending on vehicle configuration.