Learn the Differences Between the Two Transmission Styles

Your transmission includes a variety of components that work together so that the vehicle’s engine can efficiently transfer power to the wheels. However, the components differ based on the type of transmission you have, such as manual or automatic. Along with such, there are a variety of drive configurations, such as front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive. It is essential that you know the differences between these features so that you can choose the most appropriate vehicle or can determine how best to use them while driving.

It’s also essential that you know internal combustion engines rotate in one direction only and can only operate within a small range of speeds. Your transmission uses gear ratios to allow the wheels to travel much faster, even when the engine speed remains the same or constant. Transmissions also allow you to move the vehicle backward and forward.

Functions of the Transmission

You should know how the transmission works so that you can use the vehicle correctly. Functionality is determined by:

  • Shift Gears – Manual transmissions are designed to allow you to handle all the shifting required. Automatic transmissions are controlled at all times by the computer system installed in the vehicle.
  • Torque Ratio – The torque ratio allows the speed to be adjusted as necessary, allowing the wheels to move faster so that your speed increases.
  • Power – Similar to torque ratio, the wheels must be supplied with the appropriate amount of power to raise the speed of the vehicle, keep the speed constant, or slow it down.
  • Gear Ratios – These are designed to reduce your engine’s rotational speed output while also increasing power amounts delivered to your wheels.

Automatic Transmissions – Shifting Gears

When shifting gears in an automatic transmission vehicle, all you have to do is select drive, reverse, or park. When the vehicle is in drive mode, the automatic transmission chooses the best gear based on a variety of factors. The transmission is connected to your engine with a torque converter. This system is more intricate than a manual transmission, which means it requires specialty equipment and knowledge to fix.

The transmission selects and shifts to the best gear under the current driving conditions and can change gears automatically as necessary. Of course, many sensors are placed throughout the vehicle to transmit and collect information on current driving conditions. The ECM (Electronic Control Module) gathers and process this information.

Automatic Transmission Components

There are four essential components of an automatic transmission, which includes:

  • Stator – This component controls torque amounts transferred to the turbine from the impeller.
  • Turbine – This component is connected to the transmission.
  • Impeller – This component connects to your crankshaft, which spins from engine rotation and ultimately transfers the right amount of torque to the turbine.
  • Torque Converter – This component is filled why hydraulic fluid and includes the stator, impeller, and turbine.

The Hydraulic System for the Automatic Transmission

With an automatic transmission system, transmission filters and fluid are usually in the oil pan. They’re considered hydraulic systems, which means the force of the fluid powers the gear shifts. Because automatic transmissions rely so heavily on transmission fluid, you must check the fluid levels frequently, flush them when necessary, and change them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Fluid can become contaminated or dirty, or may slowly evaporate or leak to a dangerous level. Any of these issues can cause many problems, such as slipping gears or full transmission failure.

Manual/Standard Transmissions – Shifting Gears

To shift gears with a manual transmission vehicle, you must first press down on your clutch pedal. This disengages your transmission from the engine. Then, you can use the shift lever to change gears appropriately. Of course, different positions correspond to engaging various gear pairs. Each of the gears is designed to operate using various gear ratios and move the wheels at a different speed. Therefore, it is essential that you choose the right gear.

A manual transmission is a mechanical system, which means transmission fluid isn’t necessary to change gears, though it is still required for the vehicle. Along with such, manual transmissions don’t use a filter to remove debris or contaminants, so it is essential to check the transmission fluid frequently.

As other vehicle components wear down or break, tiny metal particles can be shed into the transmission fluid or transmission itself. If you don’t take care to change the fluid regularly, you could face a full transmission rebuild.

Manual/Standard Transmission Components

There are only two types of components required in a manual transmission, which includes:

  • Soft Parts – These include gaskets, clutch components, O-rings, valves, seals, filters, and bands. The soft parts tend to experience more wear and tear; if a transmission rebuild is necessary, they are all replaced en-masse.
  • Hard Parts – These include shafts, pumps, converters, gears, drums, and casings. Usually, they are more durable and do not require replacement as frequently.


The gearbox or differential controls the various sizes of gears with which the vehicle operates. The gears must be sized differently to allow the best car performance based on the current and changing driving conditions you may face. These include incline degrees, direction, and speed. Cars are quite similar to bicycles in that they use a variety of gears depending on many factors, such as how much effort is necessary and the speed at which they are traveling.

The differential can deliver power to either wheel set and allows the wheels to turn, even when at different speeds than each other. Therefore, you can control and steer your car around turns or curves without worrying about tipping over.

Many times, the differential requires repairs when you don’t change the fluid as recommended by the manufacturer.

The manual or standard gearbox works a little differently. You must decide which gear is right for the driving conditions and speed. There is a shifting mechanism that allows you to select the right gear, change gears when driving, and more. Of course, standard transmissions aren’t as hard to rebuild, but you should always maintain appropriate maintenance to avoid costly repairs.


Learn the Differences Between the Two Transmission Styles

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