Your vehicle’s transmission is the key component that allows for smooth acceleration when you are driving. The transmission’s job is to make sure the appropriate amount of torque or power is applied to your wheels at any given speed. This occurs by shifting gears in the same way you would while riding a bike.

There are various types of transmissions. Manual transmissions require the vehicle operator to shift gears when necessary. Automatic transmissions shift gears automatically based on the speed you are driving at. Being aware of how transmissions work and how to maintain them is helpful for the efficiency and longevity of your vehicle.

How A Manual Transmission Works

A manual transmission essentially works the same as shifting gears on a multi-geared pedal bike. On a pedal bike, the chain needs to be on one of the gears in order for the bike to drive and accelerate. In the same way, the engine needs to be connected to the wheels in order for the vehicle to accelerate and drive.

With a manual transmission, the component that disconnects the engine from the wheels is the clutch. Pushing in the clutch causes the engine to disconnect from the wheels temporarily so that you can change gears with the gear shifter. The gear shifter has the same effect as moving the chain on a pedal bike. Once you have shifted to a new gear, you can reconnect the engine to the wheels by releasing the clutch. This motion of pushing in the clutch, changing gears and releasing the clutch requires good timing and takes some practice.

How An Automatic Transmission Works

With an automatic transmission, the same process takes place, but it all happens automatically without needing to manually push the clutch, move the gear shifter and release the clutch. The main component that manages this process in an automatic transmission is the torque converter. The torque converter senses the changes in speed as you accelerate and automatically shifts gears for you. The reverse process happens when you slow the vehicle down.

Maintaining and Servicing Your Transmission

In terms of maintenance with your transmission, one of the main things to keep an eye on is the transmission fluid. This fluid keeps everything running smoothly as your transmission changes gears on the vehicle. Transmission fluid is typically dyed pink or red for easy visibility. It should be fairly translucent and easy to see through.

You can check the transmission fluid level by finding the transmission fluid dipstick. Be sure not to mistake it for your main engine oil dipstick. Check your owner’s manual for how to properly check and add fluid if needed. Be sure not to add too much fluid as this can be as problematic as not having enough fluid.

Knowing When To Repair Your Transmission

Diagnosing potential problems with your transmission is a good thing to be aware of. With transmissions being such an intricate and important part of how your vehicle operates, they can be quite expensive to repair. With that in mind, doing your best to maintain and service your transmission is to your advantage.

In the unfortunate event of your transmission starting to fail, you may notice the following symptoms.

  • Your transmission won’t change gears or stay in gear.
  • There’s a delay in changing gears or gears are skipped when shifting.
  • Transmission fluid is leaking.
  • Burning smell (typically caused by leaking fluid).
  • There’s a buzzing, clicking or humming noise from a bad bearing, gear damage or some other internal problem.
  • Gears are grinding (typically associated with manual transmissions).
  • Clutch pedal grabs very high or very low (manual transmission only).

Diagnosing issues with your transmission ultimately requires heavier diagnostics and expert advice. At JW Auto Centers, you can expect our licensed technicians to provide full analysis, expert opinion and thorough repair when it comes to your transmission.

Transmission Repair Services

There are different transmission repair services that your car may need. Here are a few of the most common:

Transmission Fluid Change

There are two options for a transmission fluid change. A full fluid exchange following the specifications the manufacturer of your vehicle recommends. Second, a transmission fluid and filter change, also following the specifications recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. You are likely to avoid an expensive transmission repair if you keep up with your vehicle’s recommended transmission fluid change schedule, typically due every two years or 30,000 miles.

Transmission Flush

A transmission flush is a comprehensive transmission repair that “flushes” out the sludge and grime that has accumulated in it. First, the mechanic removes the old oil. Next, new oil and cleaning solutions (if necessary) are run through the transmission, removing damaging debris. Lastly, the transmission is refilled with new oil.

Rebuild or Replacement

In some cases, if the transmission begins to fail or stops working altogether, mechanics will recommend a replacement or rebuild. If this is the case, make sure you’re working with an auto repair shop that has a great reputation.