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Front Wheel Drive Transmissions and Transxaxles

There seems to be some confusion about the differences between front wheel drive cars and cars with transaxles. First off, a transaxle is a front wheel drive transmission, at least in 99 percent of the cases. Rear engined vehicles like Porsche have transaxles, but the unit is in the rear of the vehicle where the engine is. Since 99 percent of the cars fitted with transaxles have front engines, people tend to think of transaxles as front wheel drive cars only. We call front mounted engines and transmission combos ”transverse mounted”, where the engine and transmission combo is sideways, or east to west of the axis of the vehicle. Now you know the difference.

A car can be front wheel drive and not be a transaxle. What exactly is a transaxle as compared to a front wheel drive that is not a transaxle? A transaxle combines a full transmission and drive differential all in one case. Which means you have no drive-shaft that connects the transmission to the differential as in a rear wheel drive car. We call a rear wheel drive setup, ‘longitudinal’. Because the drive line goes from front to back or north south, compared to sideways or east-west, in a common front engine transaxle setup.

Another less used front wheel drive arrangement is where the transmission is only a transmission, and is directly bolted to a differential in the front of the car (ala the Olds Toronados of early). The need for a drive-shaft is not necessary since the tranny and differential assembly bolt together. How close? As close as cold is to ice.

I don’t think either system is better, although the transaxle setup has dominated in popularity from the beginning of the modern front wheel drive era. Most probably due to the compactness of the setup, making it perfect for use in several models of a car line without having to make any serious assembly line changes. I’m sure it speeds up production.

It’s probably not a question or problem you will ever have to deal with or take a test on. However, having enough information on a particular subject so you can decide what decisions are in your best interests is the best way not to be taken advantage of. I think a lot of people make decisions on purchases they do not know enough about to make an informed decision. Allow us to provide enough education so you can make a terrific decision on which form of transaxle is in your best interest.

I know you would not go to a brain surgeon for heart surgery, so make sure you deal with transmission specialists and not a ‘junk’ yard if you are in the market for a replacement transaxle or front wheel drive transmission. Do the right thing, seek professional help from GotTransmissions.com @ 866-320-1182. Satisfaction guaranteed.

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