Can You Answer These Questions About Manual and Automatic Transmissions If We Give You a Hint?



By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Modern manual gearboxes where a clutch is involved in changing gears are called what?

It's pretty complex and impossible to explain in a few sentences, but in essence, a clutch allows the right gear to be selected without having to worry about adjusting the speed of the engine to allow the gears to mesh. This is called a synchronized transmission.


From the options below, pick the first to have an automatic clutch in the United States. Interestingly enough, this was just before the start of World War II.

The idea for the first hydraulic-based automatic transmissions was sold to General Motors by two Brazilian engineers, José Braz Araripe and Fernando Lehly Lemos. GM then introduced this new radical design for the first time in Oldsmobile models in 1940.


Over time, what is the problem that most manual clutches suffer from?

Because a clutch is employed so often and drivers will sometimes "ride" it, particularly while standing still at a traffic light instead of engaging the brake and putting the car in neutral, it will wear out over time. A worn clutch will start to slip and not engage as it should, causing higher revving as you gear up.


Sharing a name with a recreation area, what gear do you leave your automatic car in when you come to a stop and exit it?

When stopping a car with an automatic transmission, the vehicle should be placed in the park gear. This locks the transmission output shaft and means the vehicle cannot move forward or backward.


What gear creates a gear ratio of 1-1 in an automatic transmission?

In an automatic transmission, a ratio of 1-1 is achieved when the vehicle is shifted into third gear. It means the output shaft as well as the input shaft both turn at the same time and together.


Name the part of the automatic transmission in a vehicle which directs hydraulic fluid to the valves along its body?

In automatic transmissions, the valve body is vitally important. It helps direct hydraulic fluid to valves in the transmission that in turn engage the appropriate band servo or clutch pack needed at that time.


In what year, just after World War I, was the automatic transmission invented?

Although motor vehicles as we know them had been around since 1885, those early cars and models up to the 1920s were all manual gearbox vehicles. The first automatic transmission was invented in 1921.


In an automatic transmission, there is more than one clutch.

True, automatic transmissions certainly have more than one clutch. In fact, they can have several. These clutches are tasked with both engaging and disengaging a specific set of planetary gears assigned to them and related to the speed the vehicle is going and the correct gear it needs to be in based on that.


The first automatic gearbox was designed by a Canadian. Who was he?

We have Alfred Horner Munro to thank for the invention of the first automatic gearbox. A resident of Regina in the Saskatchewan province of Canada, Munro came up with his design in 1921 and by 1923 had patented it.


Name the small part that will track the speed of a vehicle, the throttle position and other important information to decide on the best shift points in an automatic transmission?

In modern automatic transmission systems, sensors on the engine and within the transmission itself track speed, the position of the throttle, the speed of the engine and other factors to control shift points.


What is the name of the larger outer gear of the planetary gear system? No, you can't use it to propose!

The ring gear is the large outer gear in the planetary gear system in the transmission. It is tasked with moving the torque from the secondary shaft through to the differential.


Do some manual transmission vehicles make use of a finger shifter?

A finger shift allows a driver to change gear with the mere movement of their finger. An example of this is on buses in Japan, where the system has been used on heavy-duty buses since 1983.


Name the Frenchmen who are credited with inventing the first modern manual gearbox.

The first modern manual gearbox was invented by two Frenchmen, Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor. Their first unit was a three-speed manual transmission and many of their design ideas are still used today.


Which of these moves hydraulic fluid through the automatic transmission system?

Often considered to be the heart of the transmission system, the automatic transmission pump moves hydraulic fluid through the gearing system to ensure it operates efficiently.


When talking about transmissions, what does the term "CVT" mean? It's all about selecting the perfect gear at the right time.

In a continuously variable transmission, the gearbox is able to select from any number of gear ratios. In fact, the options are practically infinite. This allows it to select the most effective gear for any situation.


What is the name of the type of automatic transmission found in most cars?

Most automatic transmissions found on vehicles today are of a hydraulic nature. This means gear changes are achieved by using hydraulics to unlock and lock a system of gears, commonly known as planetary gears.


It doesn't shine brightly, but can you name the central gear central gear in the planetary gear system?

The sun gear is the central gear in the planetary gear system in the transmission. It is tasked with spinning the other gears in the planetary gear system.


From these options, pick the name that automatic, or self-shifting transmissions are also known by.

We know it mainly as the automatic transmission but it also has many other names. Perhaps the second most popular is the self-shifting transmission, but other names include auto-shifting transmission and 6-speed automatic (substitute the numeral for the number of gears the vehicle has).


Why do manual cars need rev counters? It's mostly to stop a boom, actually.

In a manual transmission vehicle, a tachometer is of massive importance, especially if you intend to rev the motor to the redline often. The tachometer is just a simple way for the driver to see when he should shift gears.


Manual cars have an extra pedal. What is it called?

That's right, in a car with a manual transmission, you will find an extra pedal in the cabin at the driver's feet. In a left-hand drive car, this pedal is found on the right of the brake pedal (middle) and accelerator pedal (far left). The clutch pedal is engaged when the driver wants to change gears.


Name the unsynchronized gearboxes found in early cars, please.

Early manual transmission systems required excellent timing and a knowledge of how fast the engine was rotating to select the correct gear. Because no clutch was involved to disengage the engine, these types of manual transmissions were referred to as unsynchronized transmissions.


In what year, just before the turn of the 20th Century, was the manual gearbox first introduced by Panhard and Levassor?

Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor introduced their first manual transmission in 1894. It was a simple three-speed gearbox. It had no clutch and gears would carefully be selected when the motor was running at the correct speed for that gear.


What is the easiest way to damage an automatic transmission?

Although an automatic transmission will change the gears for you, when towing a large load, many drivers prefer to override the system and pick the gear they think is best by themselves. If they know what they are doing, then it's all fine, but inexperienced drivers often pick the wrong gear.


Name the car part in automatic transmission vehicles that keeps the engine turning over when the car is at a standstill?

Found in cars with automatic transmissions, a torque converter fulfills the same role as a clutch in a manual transmission car. Essentially, it keeps the engine turning over when the vehicle comes to a halt.


Modern cars are typically, _________ drivetrains?

Over the years, cars have had many different engine positions and drivetrain configurations. Think of the muscle cars of the 1960s - people loved how they had massive engines located in the front of the car but that all that power was transferred to the rear wheels, allowing drivers to light up the tires and lay down some rubber. Most modern cars, however, are front engined, front-wheel drive cars.


Name the straps or bands found in the transmission of your car, please. These grip drums rotating in the transmission at certain times.

Made from steel, timing bands are straps that are found in the transmission on drums within it. These drums will rotate when the band is not pressed against it to grip it. Stopping their rotating means components within the transmission interact in different ways, depending on what the driver is doing in terms of gear selection.


Which of these gear parts helps produce gear ratios?

A crucial part of the transmission, the planetary gear set helps to make all the various ratios that the gears in the transmission can produce. It consists of the sun, planetary and ring gears.


In a modern automatic transmission vehicle, how many gears do you have access to?

Notice that in this question, we did say MOST modern cars. Why? Well, it can vary. Although most modern automatic transmission cars have six gears available, some are different. Take the Chrysler 200, which is a 9-speed. In the past, many automatic transmission cars had a four-speed transmission.


What did General Motors call their automatic transmission system when they introduced it?

General Motors decided that a catchy name would be the best way to market its new automatic transmission system. The company called it the "Hydra-Matic" and you can even hear it mentioned in the classic song "Greased Lightning" from the hit movie, "Grease".


True or false? In Europe, 90% of vehicles are manual transmission.

Unlike in America where the figure is the same but in the opposite direction, Europeans seem to love a manual transmission car over an automatic transmission one. Also, pickups are not as huge in Europe as in the States, so there is a large portion of automatic transmission vehicles that just aren't sold over the pond.


What exactly does the transmission in your vehicle do?

Without a transmission system, be it manual or automatic, your car would simply not move, no matter how much power it generates. The transmission system on a car is tasked with turning the power created by the engine into a forward (or reverse) motion in the wheels.


Its name is a dead giveaway, but can you name the car part that connects the gears to the driveshaft?

The collar is a vital part of a manual transmission. It will shift left or right along the shaft to select and engage the gear as the driver chooses them using the gear shift.


In the United States, what is a car with a manual gearbox called?

You won't find many vehicle aficionados in the United States saying they bought a manual transmission car. To Americans, it simply is called a stick shift.


True or False: Of the vehicles sold in the United States, 90% have automatic transmissions.

Why? Well, it just seems that Americans love their automatic transmission vehicles over their stick shift counterparts. The fact that pickups are very popular in the States (and most of these have automatic transmissions) must surely boost the figure somewhat as well.


What cools down the automatic transmission of your vehicle? It also cools the engine.

With so many moving parts and spinning gears, all moving and interlinking, it is natural that an automatic transmission system will overheat. Luckily, it is kept from overheating by using an existing cooling system found on the vehicle already: the engine cooling system.


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About This Quiz

When you purchase a new car, there are more decisions to make than what color you want or how many seats it should have. One of the most basic decisions you need to make is whether your vehicle should have an automatic or manual transmission. It's where you start when you decide what kind of car you need and what kind of car you want. Transmissions are usually a no-brainer for those who only drive automatic, but when you can drive a manual, you open up a whole line of vehicles that can cost less and perform better. 

With the nearly ubiquitous automatic transmission of modern cars, can you believe that almost all early cars had manual transmissions? These didn't use a clutch, and the gears had to be engaged at the correct time as determined by how fast the engine was spinning. This made driving a serious skill to have! Although automatic transmissions had been invented decades before, they only made their way into motor vehicles in the 1940s. Just how much do you really know about each of these transmission types? Enough to ace this quiz? Well, let's see how you weather this rough road. Good luck, and don't drop the clutch!

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