What is a Transmission?

April 16th, 2013 by

Maintaining Your VehicleChances are if you’ve never driven a manual car or never hauled anything you haven’t thought much about your vehicle’s transmission. Most cars today are equipped with some kind of automatic transmission, making manually shifting unnecessary.

Try this sometime: turn your radio off and listen closely as you come out of a red light. You should hear the engine rev, change in pitch, and then drop; rev, change in pitch, then drop. What you’re hearing is your engine’s revolutions fluctuating as your gears are changing. You can also watch the needle hop up and down on your tachometer, or revolution counter, in sync with the changes in pitch.

Your Transmission Works a Lot Like a Bicycle

This set of gears is known as your transmission, which “transfers” the power created by your engine to the drive train. Why not just skip the transmission though and let the engine drive the wheels directly? Why so many gears? And why do they need to change? Imagine a multi-speed bicycle. Though you can go faster in your higher gears, it’s very, very difficult to get started in them. It requires way too much torque, or turning power, on your part. A lower gear allows you to getting going with relatively little energy.

Once you getting going, it takes a lot of pedal rotations to keep the bike moving quickly. If you’ve ever been stuck in a lower gear, you know how inefficient it is at higher speeds. You decide to change to a higher gear setting, moving the chain to a larger gear on the pedal’s crank arm. The larger gear means that it takes less movement of the pedal to turn the rear wheel.

Your car works on the same basic physical principles. Without a gearbox, your car would use gasoline very inefficiently, as well as run a high risk of destroying the engine. Even some drivers with automatic vehicles have some control over their transmission by being able to force the vehicle into lower gears. This give you more torque, which can give you more power while hauling, as well as give you more control in slippery conditions.

The Future of the Transmission

Gearboxes are changing, though. While classic transmissions have set ratios, a continuously variable transmission, or a CVT has a unique set-up that allows you to have an infinite, ever changing number of ratios. This is helping drivers to save more fuel because they run more efficiently.

As a side note, be sure to follow your manufacturers recommended dates for transmission fluid flushes! This will help to keep your car running healthily and avoid more expensive repairs in the future. You can make an appointment with Middletown Honda to get this taken care of.