Gear teeth impacts in hydrodynamic conjunctions promoting idle gear rattle

The rattle phenomenon in vehicular transmissions and its impact on the automotive industry have been widely reported in the literature. A variety of palliative measures have been suggested for attenuation of rattle such as use of backlash eliminators, clutch dampers or dual-mass flywheels. These palliative measures incur further costs and can have untoward implications in powertrain noise and vibration problems. A fundamental investigation of the dynamics of impacting gears is undoubtedly the way forward for a root cause solution. This paper introduces a new approach for understanding the interactions between the transmission gears during engine idle conditions by taking into account the effect of lubrication. Gear impacting surfaces are treated as lubricated conjunctions rather than the usually reported dry impacting solids. Depending on load and speed of entraining motion of the lubricant into the contact domains, the regime of lubrication alters. In this paper, the influence of lubricant in torsional vibration of lightly loaded idling gears is examined which promotes iso-viscous hydrodynamic conditions. It is shown that the lubricant film under these conditions behaves as a time-varying non-linear spring-damper element. Spectral analysis of the system response is compared to the findings of the linearised system.