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Description of a Standard Torque Converter

General Description
Torque converters are to an automatic transmission what a clutch is to a manual transmission. Basically,
they keep the car from stalling out when you come to a stop. In a car with an automatic transmission,
the torque converter lets the engine continue to turn while the wheels and transmission come to a stop.
This makes it so that your car can continue to run while youre stopped at a stop light, and you need to
only apply light pressure on the brake pedal to keep you from moving forward or backward. In a manual
car, this would be considered neutral, but the torque converter allows an automatic car to do this while
in drive.
Basic Parts and Their Function
Output Shafts. There are two separate output shafts. The turbine output shaft connects to the
transmission and transports transmission fluid (often referred to as tranny fluid). The stator output
shaft connects to a fixed shaft in the transmission and holds the converter in place.
Pump. The pump is the outermost part of the converter, closest to the transmission. It is exactly what it
sounds like- a pump. When transmission fluid enters the pump, it spins (number of revolutions is
dependent on how quickly the vehicle is traveling). While the pump spins, the fluid is pulled to the
outside, creating a vacuum which draws in more fluid from the turbine output shaft.
Stator. The stator is the middle piece of the converter, which connects the pump and the turbine. The
stator is there to redirect the fluid from the turbine back into the pump. The stator has blades on it,
which force the fluid to change direction before it can reenter the pump.

Turbine. The turbine is


what causes the
transmission to spin. The
fluid enters the turbine,
and changes direction
before exiting the center
of the turbine (and
entering into the stator).
If the fluid were to hit the
pump without changing
direction, it would waste
energy, causing the
transmission to spin more
slowly. This slow spinning
would cause the engine
to slow down, which
wastes power.

Operating Description
Stanley Poff of TCI explains how a converter works: "One of the best explanations of this is the two-fan
explanation. Set two fans up facing each other and turn one on. As the air starts to move through the
fan blades of the fan with no power, the blades start to turn. This is exactly what happens in a torque
converter. You can also take a piece of cardboard and redirect the airflow and speed the non-powered
fan blades up or down. We do this in the converter by constructing stators with more or less blades. As
the fluid enters the turbine, it flows down to the center where it changes direction and enters the
stator. Depending on the number of blades in the stator, the fluid goes faster, and then enters the
pump. The pump draws in more fluid based on how quickly the original fluid is spinning. The more fluid,
the faster it is spinning, the more power is sent to the transmission. Optimally, the transmission spins as
fast as the engine (which happens at higher speeds), which wastes the least amount of power. This is
why cars with manual transmission usually get better gas mileage.