Ever wondered how your car’s transmission worked? Most people think of the average transmission as a big mystery box full of strange and complex parts. However, the device that helps get your car up and moving isn’t as complex or as scary as some make it out to be.
What is a Transmission?
The whole purpose of a transmission is to provide an effective way of transferring the power from your engine to the wheels. More importantly, this box full of interlocking gears (or in some cases, pulleys) utilizes mechanical reduction to gear up or gear down the number of engine rotations, keeping the vehicle’s engine within its usable power band.
Keep in mind that there are several types of transmissions available on most vehicles. The type of transmission you’re likely to end up with varies among makes and models – sports cars are generally more likely to feature manual transmissions, while vehicles dedicated towards fuel efficiency are more likely to have CVT transmissions.
Once the standard on a wide variety of vehicles, manual transmissions allow for manual selection of each gear ratio. Nearly every manual transmission also comes with a clutch, which disengages the constantly-spinning crank from the transmission.
Commonly found on a variety of motor-sports vehicles, sequential gearboxes dispense with the typical “H” pattern of the manual transmission in favor of either simple up-and-down movement of the gear lever or steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters. The gears are shifted in sequential order with a ratchet-like motion.
Unlike manual transmissions, their automatic counterparts do all of the shifting for you. Automatic transmissions rely on a collection of planetary gear sets that provide different gear ratios for forward movement. Instead of a clutch, an automatic transmission uses a torque converter that provides a fluid coupling between the transmission and the engine.
Continuously variable transmissions do away with gears entirely, instead relying on two variable pulleys – an input pulley connected to the flywheel and an output pulley connected to the output shaft – and a belt made from either steel alloy or steel-core rubber. The pulleys expand and contract, making the belt radius larger or smaller depending on the desired “gear” ratio. Nissan’s Toroidal CVT transmission uses two cone-shaped metal discs and two rollers that make contact, move and rotate according to the desired ratio. Understanding the inner workings of the average transmission gives you an advantage when it comes to repairs and maintenance. Chances are you won’t attempt to rebuild your gearbox from scratch, but having a little knowledge about your transmission means being able to find alternatives to expensive repairs.
Information provided by National Transmission, a Red Deer transmission company.