When you purchase a new vehicle for yourself, there are many choices to make. Some are purely cosmetic, such as what color you want it to be. Others are more mechanical in nature. These include how big an engine displacement are you looking for, or will it be a gasoline or diesel-powered model?
The other major question you need to ask yourself is whether your new set of wheels should have an automatic transmission or a manual one. Now if you are from the U.S., we probably know which one you prefer. That said, in many other parts of the world, vehicles with manual transmissions are preferred over their automatic counterparts.
Whatever you choose, rest assured that both automatic and manual transmissions are incredibly intricate parts of your motor vehicle. They are built to last for many miles, but as with other systems in your car (the engine, for example) when things go wrong, it can cost you a fair amount of money, no matter if you drive a stick shift or an auto shift.
Just how much do you really know about each of these transmission types? Enough to ace this quiz? Let's see! Good luck!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We know it mainly as the automatic transmission but it also has many other names. Perhaps the second most popular is 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
The collar is a vital part in 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.
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.
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.
When stopping a car with an automatic transmission, the vehicle should be placed in the park gear. This locks the transmission's output shaft and means the vehicle cannot move forward or backward.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.