Transmissions 101

Transmissions 101

There are a lot of different parts and systems that go into the job of making your car move, and your transmission is easily one of the important ones.

What a Transmission Does:

To put it in technical terms, your transmission is responsible for adjusting the gear ratio between your engine and your wheels for optimal balance of engine power and vehicle speed.

To better understand what a transmission does, think of it like this: If you’ve ever ridden a bicycle before, you’ve probably noticed how it’s extremely difficult to pedal when going up a hill, but much easier when going over flat ground. However, a bike with gears changes this. By shifting down into a small gear, the bike becomes immensely easier to pedal, as the gears are set up to encourage more power with less speed. You won’t go anywhere quickly, but you’ll be able to get moving far faster and easier, which makes the hill easier to climb under your own power. Once you’re moving along, you can shift up to higher gears, which offer you greater speed but with less power. Since you’re already moving along at speed, you don’t actually need the power to maintain it, and that makes your pedaling more efficient.

This is the same thing that your transmission does for your car. Your engine produces the same amount of power (depending on the throttle, of course), but how that power is delivered to your car’s wheels depends on the transmission. When your car is at a dead stop, your engine will need a good amount of power in order to get it to accelerate because your car is extremely heavy after all. When your car is moving along down the highway at speed, it doesn’t need the power to start rolling, but does need the speed to stay moving.

If your gear ratio is too high (or you’re in too high of a gear) then your car will stall because it doesn’t have the power to get your vehicle moving. The opposite is also true: a gear that’s too low will have too much power available, but not enough speed, which means your engine will rev extremely high but your car won’t really go anywhere. Your transmission is responsible for keeping this balance of speed and power as close to perfect as possible at all times.

Types of transmissions

The majority of vehicles driven in the United States are equipped with an automatic or manual transmission, however, there are other variations of the automatic transmission that are used in modern day vehicles such as the CVT (constantly variable) and a dual clutch transmission.

  • Manual transmissions are by far the oldest of the four types and they require the driver of a vehicle to manually change the gears in a vehicle’s transmission to optimize the mix of speed and power. This is usually done with a shifting lever and knob located near the center console, immediately to the driver’s right. If you’re ever unsure whether a vehicle is an automatic or manual, just look down at the driver’s foot pedals. If there’s a third pedal, then the car is a manual transmission.
  • Automatic Transmissions shift themselves between gears and into neutral automatically based on driver input from the throttle and brake. The transmission itself is controlled by your car’s brain—the central computer. Automatic transmissions have a number of advantages - they’re more fuel-efficient and offer a smoother, more-seamless ride than their manual counterparts. However, they don’t offer you that same degree of control that you’d get from a manual, and as such they’re not the best for specialized uses.
  • A constantly variable transmission (CVT) is variation of an automatic transmission. It can change seamlessly through a continuous range of gears, rather than a fixed set of gears. What this means is better engine efficiency and fuel economy.
  • A dual clutch transmission is sort of a “hybrid” between an automatic and a manual transmission. Many sport vehicles are equipped with this type of transmission because it uses two clutches, and it switches gears faster than a manual or automatic transmission, and therefore makes it possible to speed up and slow down faster.

Transmission Services at Christian Brothers Automotive:

Do you need your transmission serviced? The experts from Christian Brothers Automotive can provide you with everything you need, from diagnostic to repairs to scheduled or preventative maintenance such as fluid and filter services. Our certified technicians provide the skilled labor and quality materials you need to keep your car running at its best. We want to change the way you think about car repair, and we invite you to see how at any of our hundreds of locations across the country.

Schedule your transmission repair or maintenance service by calling your local Christian Brothers Automotive today.

Posted by, Christian Brothers Automotive