Automatic, Manual, or something in between; you should know what kind of transmission your vehicle has
Look back in time to your teenage years of playing racing games on your old computer. Do you recall having to choose the transmission for your car right before you kickstarted a race?
You could choose between ‘manual’ and ‘automatic’ in these games, and back then, we didn’t quite understand the meaning of transmission. The question is, do we know it now?
The transmission in your vehicle plays a vital part in making it move. In its bare essence, it is the gearbox – responsible for moving the power generated by the engine to the wheels.
A transmission setup can be of many different types, but it has one fundamental task irrespective of its kind – enabling the gear ratio between the drive wheels and the engine.
The transmission allows a car to accelerate quickly from a stop. Moreover, it protects the engine from wear out when the vehicle is cruising at consistent speeds.
This essential fixture in your car is of many different types. Let’s open up the hood and find out what transmission we have in our vehicles.
The Old Faithful stick-shift is an emblem of the manual transmission in cars. This system uses a friction clutch controlled by the driver’s foot to connect or disconnect the transmission to the engine.
Additionally, the driver controls the ‘stick’ connected to a gear-selector fork, choosing a fixed set of gears.
Upon pressing the clutch, the connection between the engine and the wheels is broken. When the link is broken, the driver can change gears into the necessary setting.
The Manual Transmission system has a couple of clear advantages over its newer counterparts. It is cost-effective thanks to its simple mechanism and structure, meaning that repairs are not heavy on your pocket.
Another benefit that the stick-shift has is more fuel-efficient than any other transmission system. In a nutshell, drivers who choose to change their gears on their own enjoy a better fuel economy.
Also, in the end, nothing beats the adrenaline rush of a perfectly timed, smooth gear shift.
Automatic transmission is arguably the most common gearbox on the road today. It includes a vehicular computer that handles the gear shifting process using a planetary gear set and a group of brakes and clutches.
Even though this system is a significantly complex one under the hood, it makes the driver’s job relatively more manageable.
The driver only has to choose from the commonly used P-R-N-D-L choices on the gear selector.
However, whatever the Automatic transmission achieves in making driving more uncomplicated ends up losing in cost efficiency.
Thanks to the complex machinery that operates an automatic transmission, the costs of repairing it and managing it are significantly higher than that of a standard manual gearbox.
Moreover, automatic gearboxes show considerably lower fuel economy than manual ones. Although, a commendable fact is that newer automobiles with automatic transmissions show improvement in their fuel economy.
Here’s hoping that automatic transmission strengthens fuel efficiency while making it easier to drive.
What happens when the two worlds of automatic and manual transmission collide? The fusion creates a Semi-automatic or Double Clutch transmission.
This mechanism gets the best of both worlds. However, it also inherits some of the demerits faced by an automatic transmission.
The Semi-automatic transmission uses a conventional manual setup for the mechanical design, and the changing of gears happens using the specially designed layout of pneumatics and actuators.
A Dual Clutch transmission has separate clutches for odd and even gears, resulting in lightning-fast gear changes.
This gearbox is generally operated using an automatic mode but can also be handled manually using paddles on the steering wheel.
Thanks to the spectacular efficiency of this gearbox, it is used in high-end vehicles and racing cars. However, this transmission system is costly to manufacture, maintain, or repair.
Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT)
In what could be the most fuel-efficient transmission system in the market yet, the Continuous Variable Transmission!
This system offers a driving experience similar to an automatic transmission but works on a completely different mechanism than all other transmission types.
CVT does not have a fixed set of ratios for its gears. Instead, it uses a complex system of belts and pulleys to produce an infinite range of ratios for gears.
The vehicular computer, just like the one used in an automatic transmission, decides how to adjust the belts and pulleys to create the best possible driving conditions.
Owing to this design, CVTs boast of the most efficient fuel economy in the market today. Moreover, a CVT is not as complicated as an automatic transmission, and therefore relatively cheaper to manufacture, maintain, and repair.
The only downside about a CVT, a very far-fetched possibility, is that an experienced driver might not feel the general perceptions of driving a regular car.
A CVT offers no feelings of gear changes; a driver will only feel the smooth, seamless acceleration.
Know Your Transmission
If you throw a stone at a random car on the road, it is more likely to hit one with an automatic transmission. In the last decade, the manufacture of vehicles with automatic transmission has seen a sharp rise.
It has overshadowed manual transmission vehicles, rendering them cars of the past.
Ever since Karl Benz came up with the car, the clutch has been an object of intrigue and delight. It has since been in and out of several transmission systems in history.
For drivers, it is essential to know the answer to “what transmission do I have?”. Answering it will enable them to take good care of their vehicles.
Each gearbox needs extra care so that every drivetrain is functioning properly. Regular visits to the mechanic to check and change the oil in the gearbox are a bare necessity to keep your car running smoothly.
Ultimately, the gearbox is responsible for efficient driving. It keeps the engine from overheating and optimizes fuel efficiency.
Now that you know the different types of car transmissions, you can answer the question – what kind of transmission do you have?