Transmission 101: Knowing What It Is & How It Works

Everyone knows there’s a transmission in any car to help make it run. But do you know how it works? What makes it go and what parts help with that? If not, then you’re in good hands because today we’re talking all about your transmission!

Transmission 101

Knowing What It Is & How It Works

Your car either has an automatic or manual transmission. Automatic is much more popular in today’s society, however, they are both important in making your vehicle run. Soon, I’ll be sharing a video on how to drive a manual transmission because they aren’t that hard to drive once you get the hang of it! Just like riding a bike;)

What is the transmission?

While they can get very complicated, in simple words, your transmission sends power from the engine to the drive wheels. You have a tachometer in your car that measures your RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) or in other terms, your “revs”. This is connected to the transmission to help tell the engine when it needs more or less power to the wheels. So, in automatic cars, this connection works automatically in unison.  In a manual vehicle, you’ll need to adjust this with your clutch to help match the engine and transmission’s RPM.

You’ll always have either a manual stick shift or an automatic “gear shift” in any car indicating Neutral, 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear, Reverse, etc. depending on how many gears your car has. This lever is also linked to the transmission. As you shift up or down in either car, you are telling your transmission to tell the engine that it needs more power (shifting up) or less power (shifting down) to the wheels.

In an automatic car, this does everything for you so you don’t have to worry about a thing. But, if you step on your gas pedal quickly, you’ll hear an upwards roar in the engine and transmission until you hear a “shift” up in gears to help match your RPM’s.

That might be a little complicated but as you listen more to your vehicle you’ll know what I mean!

Here’s a little better breakdown from

“In first gear, the engine turns much faster in relation to the drive wheels, while in high gear the engine is loafing even though the car may be going in excess of 70 MPH. In addition to the various forward gears, a transmission also has a neutral position which disconnects the engine from the drive wheels, and reverse, which causes the drive wheels to turn in the opposite direction allowing you to back up. Finally, there is the Park position. In this position, a latch mechanism (not unlike a deadbolt lock on a door) is inserted into a slot in the output shaft to lock the drive wheels and keep them from turning, thereby preventing the vehicle from rolling.”

In a manual car, you can put your car in neutral, but it won’t keep it from rolling since nothing is locked into position. This is where your emergency brake comes into play as well as keeping the car in 1st gear (strongest gear) when the car is off and in park.

Now, besides the basic knowledge on transmissions, they can get pretty technical because of all the other components it hooks up to to make the car run safely. We won’t get into that today but if you are interested I encourage you to read more about it!

What about maintenance?

Good question.

Just like every other part of your vehicle, your trans will require regular maintenance. Luckily for you, this won’t be every oil change or inspection. You’ll want to check your transmission fluid and filter about every 30,000 miles, or according to your owner’s manual. This will vary from a manual or automatic car and also other factors like engine size, horsepower, and how you drive your vehicle.

Transmission leaks are also not a good thing, so if you ever notice a reddish leak coming from where your transmission is (normally behind your engine) then you’ll need to get that inspected. Adding transmission fluid all the time is annoying and if you leak, you’ll be adding a lot of fluid to keep the level safe.

So there you have it! In simple terms. There are a lot of components in a transmission as well as other parts connected to it and the engine to help your vehicle run. But for basic knowledge, after reading this article I think you’ll have a better idea of what that weird looking thing is! #motorwithconfidence

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