Types of Transmissions

The transmission in a vehicle has three primary jobs:

  1. Transfers power from the vehicle's engine speed to the wheels, which is called torque.
  2. Uses the engine's power to move the vehicle forward or backwards.
  3. Enabling the car to shift gears - which allows the car to go a variety of speeds with different gear ratios.

In a nut shell, it is the job of the transmission to turn the engine's power (RPMs) into torque, which transfers to the wheels of the vehicle. For example, 1st gear is the shortest gear to get your vehicle moving. As you work your way up to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear, the gear ratios get taller. This allows your vehicle to go faster as the gears get taller, moving up to 5th gear and 6th gear, if your car goes that high. Some newer vehicles even have a 7th and 8th gear in their transmission for high speed efficiency. When your car is under acceleration, gear selection is important to maximize the amount of torque applied to the wheels.

Automatic Transmission and Manual Transmission

Since it is the job of the transmission to act as the power plant transfer between a vehicle's engine and the wheels, the type of transmission a vehicle is equipped with can largely affect vehicle acceleration, efficiency and performance. For this reason, there are many different types of transmissions that are used in different types of vehicles.

The most commonly used transmission types today are:

  • Manual Transmissions
  • Automatic Transmissions
  • CVT Transmissions
  • Dual-Clutch (DCT) Transmissions.

How Automatic and Manual Transmissions Work: An Introduction

Within modern manual and automatic transmission systems you will find intricate moving parts including a number of interconnected gears, input and output shafts, and either a clutch in a manual transmission system, or a torque converter in an automatic transmission system.

In a manual transmission the driver uses a clutch and gear shifter to manually change the gears of the vehicle as the rpms of the vehicle increase. In an automatic transmission a system of planetary gears automatically shifts through gears as a vehicle accelerates and decelerates.

By shifting between taller and shorter gears as a vehicle accelerates and decelerates, the transmission keeps the right amount of power (torque) flowing back and forth between the vehicle wheels and the engine.

Inside both manual and automatic transmissions you will find transmission fluid. This transmission gear fluid is especially important in automatic transmission vehicles where pressurized transmission fluid is needed to hydraulically pressurize and shift gears automatically. A manual transmission is manually operated by the driver using a stick shift (gear selector) and clutch.

How Often Should I Have My Transmission Serviced?

With hundreds of intricate and interdependent parts, the transmission is your vehicle's most complex component. The transmission is also the most expensive to fix, if not properly maintained. To prolong the life of your transmission and prevent the need for transmission repair, we recommend vehicle owners to:

  • Regularly check transmission fluids
  • Change transmission fluid more frequently if the vehicle is towing heavy loads or being driven in extreme heat
  • Have components that work with the transmission - like CV joints, drive shafts, transfer cases, and engine flywheels - regularly maintained
  • Bring their vehicles in for regular maintenance as outlined in the vehicle owner's manual
  • Have transmission systems checked promptly following an auto collision

For more information about automatic transmission or manual transmission services offered by Firestone, call your local Firestone Complete Auto Care store today.