Why Your Vehicle's Torque Converter Needs a Closer Look


Inside your vehicle's automatic transmission casing is a revolutionary part that makes your job as a driver so much easier. In short, it uses pressurisation and centrifugal force to change gears for you, so you'll never have to use your left foot in the cabin again. Because this part is so important, you will need to pay attention to its welfare and do more than a simple oil change when it's time for maintenance. What do you need to do instead?

How Everything Works

The component in question is a torque converter and has several moving parts: the turbine, stator, impeller and clutch.

The impeller looks like a fan, but it has blades that tilt inward at a specific angle. It's designed to spin at the same speed as the engine while transmission fluid is pumped through the centre. The faster the fan spins, the more fluid is sucked in and pushed through the impeller to the turbine. When the turbine receives the fluid, it will also begin to spin and, in doing so, will activate the transmission and gear mechanisms within the casing.

The third primary part – the stator – is the magic piece of the puzzle and acts as a kind of regulator in the middle. While the impeller and the turbine can rotate at different speeds based on the engine's needs and the pressure of the lubricant, the stator's job is to recapture the fluid as it comes off the turbine and recycle it into the system. It sits right in the centre of the torque converter and regulates the fluid flow for maximum efficiency.

Trouble Builds up

While the fluid is circulating under high pressure and at speed, some of it will be flung towards the outside of the casing and may adhere to the surface. Microscopic particles of metal may also coagulate and stick to the wall, leading to a buildup of deposits over time.

Don't Do This at Home

This is where a DIY attempt to service your transmission may fall down, as a straightforward oil change may not be sufficient. Some of the old oil may be retained within the torque converter anyway, but you must get rid of those deposits that may be stuck to the inner wall.

Special Machinery

A professional mechanic will have a special tool that will suck all of the oil from the inner reaches of the torque converter and use a chemical to clean those stubborn surfaces. This process will get rid of any accumulation before fresh lubricant is pumped back in, ready to start the process all over again.

Your Best Approach

So, if you love your automatic vehicle and like to give your left foot a rest when driving, don't forget to service the torque converter as well. Take your vehicle to your local mechanic so they can use the right equipment for the job.

Contact a local automatic transmission service to learn more.


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