Get in Touch with Your Transmission
Where does Your Car's Transmission get its Power?Everyone knows engines produce power. Your rear or front wheel drive must get its fair share of that power for your car to drive smoothly. How does that power get there? It's delivered by a device in the drive train, just behind your engine, called the transmission.*
There are two types of transmissions: automatic and manual.
What's the difference? Automatics, which by far outsell manuals
in America, have no clutch pedal or gear shift. Put them in "Drive,"
they automatically go. Sounds simple, right? Yet automatic transmissions are quite complex—even more so than manuals. ******* Here's why...
It All Starts with a RevolutionEver hear of RPM—Revolutions Per Minute? The transmission's primary job is to push power to your wheels while keeping RPM levels going strong. *
Why should you care about your transmission? Without one, your car would be limited to just one gear ratio. How boring! Automatic transmissions allow for a multitude of gear ratios. Most importantly, they produce a wide range of speeds for you to drive at. When your car accelerates or de–accelerates, you can thank your transmission for making the gear ratio between the engine and drive wheels possible. *******
So when moving "Forward," your transmission adjusts depending on how fast the engine turns, to keep in–sync with the drive wheels. In "Neutral," you don't want to go anywhere, so it disconnects the engine from the drive wheels. Shift into "Reverse" and the transmission repositions your drive wheels in the opposite direction. In "Park," it locks the drive wheels so they can't turn and you won't roll. *
Understanding Your Transmission's RhythmRemember the old song that goes: "Your toe bone connected to your foot bone...Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone..."? Well, your transmission also has lots of connected components that work in harmony to harness the power of your car. The Planetary Gear Sets are controlled by the Clutches and Bands...which are controlled by the Valve Body...which receives Transmission Fluid pressured through the Oil Pump...which comes from the Hydraulic System. *
Think of your transmission as a finely tuned piece of equipment designed to gear–up your car for action at any speed and keep it humming for many miles.
Oil isn't the only Fluid it pays to CheckAutomatic transmissions run on Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). Engines require oil to lubricate their critical moving parts. Likewise for transmissions...and if you neglect to keep transmission fluid flowing, your car's power—and your wallet—could get zapped.
You can go for years without even thinking about—or performing maintenance on—your transmission. But don't! An effective way to significantly reduce wear and extend the life of your transmission is to replace your ATF when your owner's manual recommends. The time for a change could be anywhere from 30,000 miles and up. Here's what to look out for...
Automatic Transmission Fluid Watch List
|Check transmission fluid monthly ***|
|Take action if shifting isn't smooth ***|
|Adjust low fluid levels, which can indicate a leak
since transmission fluid doesn't burn up like oil *****
Fluid Facts and FactorsAutomatic Transmission Fluids...
|Transmit power from the engine to the transmission ******|
|Keep transmissions running cool by serving as a coolant|
|Can become contaminated with worn particles from the
transmission and can shorten its life if not flushed. *****
Choosing the Correct ATF
|It's trickier than choosing engine oil ****|
|Certain cars require a specific transmission fluid ****|
|Refer to your owner's manual before choosing an ATF *****|
Treat Your Transmission with Respect...
What happens if your transmission doesn't get enough fluid? Shifting may start to feel shaky. Costly damage could occur to your transmission by under–lubricating it, or lubricating it with contaminated transmission part shavings. Your car could even come to a sudden halt accompanied by very unpleasant grinding sound effects.
Or it may make you Pay
Keep in mind that no news isn't necessarily good news with transmissions. They generally do not let you know they're low on fluid until it's too late. Just about any transmission repair requires its removal and disassembly. ** No way that's going to be cheap...but after reading this article, that's a price you should never have to pay.