Torsional systems with clearance-type nonlinearities have inherent vibratory problems such as gear rattle. Such vibro-impacts generally occur on the unloaded gear pairs of a vehicle correlated with the firing excitation of an engine. This study investigates the gear rattle phenomena on unloaded gear pairs with different excitation conditions and various system parameters. First, a linear time-invariant system model with six degrees of freedom is constructed and then a numerical analysis is applied to the gear rattle motion. Smoothening factors for clutch stiffness and hysteresis are employed for the stability of numerical simulations. Second, the dynamic characteristics of vibro-impacts are studied by examining the fast Fourier transform (FFT) components of the gear mesh force in a high frequency range. The effects of various system parameters on the vibro-impacts are examined using a nonlinear system model. Finally, the vibro-impacts, in terms of “single-sided” and “double-sided” impacts, are identified in phase planes.

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