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Manual transmission

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Transmission types


Sequential manual



Continuously variable

Bicycle gearing

Derailleur gears
Hub gears


A floor-mounted gear lever in a modern passenger car with a manual transmission

A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox, stick shift, n-speed
manual (where n is its number of forward gear ratios), standard, MT, or in colloquial U.S. English,
a stick (for vehicles with hand-lever shifters), is a type of transmission used in motor
vehicle applications. It uses a driver-operated clutch engaged and disengaged by a foot pedal
(automobile) or hand lever (motorcycle), for regulating torque transfer from the engine to the
transmission; and a gear selector operated by hand (automobile) or by foot (motorcycle).
A conventional 5-speed manual transmission is often the standard equipment in a base-model car,
while more expensive manual vehicles are usually equipped with a 6-speed transmission instead;
other options include automatic transmissions such as a traditional automatic (hydraulic planetary)
transmission (often a manumatic), a semi-automatic transmission, or a continuously variable
transmission (CVT). The number of forward gear ratios is often expressed for automatic
transmissions as well (e.g., 9-speed automatic).


2Unsynchronized transmission
3Synchronized transmission
o 4.1Shafts
o 4.2Dog clutch
o 4.3Synchromesh
o 4.4Reverse
o 4.5Design variations
4.5.1Ratio count
4.5.2Gear ratios
4.5.3External overdrive
4.5.4Shaft and gear configuration
o 5.1Float shifting
6Gear shift types
o 6.1Floor-mounted shifter
6.1.1"Three on the Tree" vs "Four on the Floor"
o 6.2Column-mounted shifter
o 6.3Console-mounted shifter
o 6.4Sequential manual
o 6.5In motorcycles
o 6.6Semi-manual
o 6.7Short shifter
o 6.8Finger shift
o 7.1Fuel economy
o 7.2Longevity and cost
o 7.3Lubrication
o 7.4Performance and control
o 7.5Engine braking
o 7.6Push Starting
o 8.1Complexity and learning curve
o 8.2Shifting speed
o 8.3Ease of use
o 8.4Stopping on hills
9Applications and popularity
o 9.1Arcade games
10Truck transmissions
11Crash gearbox
13See also

Manual transmissions often feature a driver-operated clutch and a movable gear stick. Most
automobile manual transmissions allow the driver to select any forward gear ratio ("gear") at any
time, but some, such as those commonly mounted on motorcycles and some types of racing cars,
only allow the driver to select the next-higher or next-lower gear. This type of transmission is
sometimes called a sequential manual transmission.
In a manual transmission, the flywheel is attached to the engine's crankshaft and spins along with it.
The clutch disk is in between the pressure plate and the flywheel, and is held against the flywheel
under pressure from the pressure plate. When the engine is running and the clutch is engaged (i.e.,
clutch pedal up), the flywheel spins the clutch plate and hence the transmission. As the clutch pedal
is depressed, the throw out bearing is activated, which causes the pressure plate to stop applying
pressure to the clutch disk. This makes the clutch plate stop receiving power from the engine, so that
the gear can be shifted without damaging the transmission. When the clutch pedal is released, the
throw out bearing is deactivated, and the clutch disk is again held against the flywheel, allowing it to
start receiving power from the engine.
Manual transmissions are characterized by gear ratios that are selectable by locking selected gear
pairs to the output shaft inside the transmission. Conversely, most automatic
transmissions feature epicyclic (planetary) gearing controlled by brake bands and/or clutch packs to
select gear ratio. Automatic transmissions that allow the driver to manually select the current gear
are called manumatics. A manual-style transmission operated by computer is often called
an automated transmission rather than an automatic, even though no distinction between the two
terms need be made.
Contemporary automobile manual transmissions typically use four to six forward gear ratios and one
reverse gear, although consumer automobile manual transmissions have been built with as few as
two and as many as seven gears. Transmissions for heavy trucks and other heavy equipment
usually have 8 to 25 gears so the transmission can offer both a wide range of gears and close gear
ratios to keep the engine running in the power band. Operating aforementioned transmissions often
use the same pattern of shifter movement with a single or multiple switches to engage the next
sequence of gear selection.

Unsynchronized transmission[edit]
Main article: Non-synchronous transmission
Cherrier two speed gear, circa 1900[1]

The earliest form of a manual transmission is thought[by whom?] to have been invented by Louis-Ren
Panhard and mile Levassor in the late 19th century. This type of transmission offered multiple gear
ratios and, in most cases, reverse. The gears were typically engaged by sliding them on their shafts
(hence the phrase shifting gears), which required careful timing and throttle manipulation when
shifting, so the gears would be spinning at roughly the same speed when engaged; otherwise, the
teeth would refuse to mesh. These transmissions are called sliding mesh transmissions or
sometimes crash boxes, because of the difficulty in changing gears and the loud grinding sound that
often accompanied. Newer manual transmissions on cars have all gears mesh at all times and are
referred to as constant-mesh transmissions, with "synchro-mesh" being a further refinement of the
constant mesh principle.
In both types, a particular gear combination can only be engaged when the two parts to engage
(either gears or clutches) are at the same speed. To shift to a higher gear, the transmission is put in
neutral and the engine allowed to slow down until the transmission parts for the next gear are at a
proper speed to engage. The vehicle also slows while in neutral and that slows other transmission
parts, so the time in neutral depends on the grade, wind, and other such factors. To shift to a lower
gear, the transmission is put in neutral and the throttle is used to speed up the engine and thus the
relevant transmission parts, to match speeds for engaging the next lower gear. For both upshifts and
downshifts, the clutch is released (engaged) while in neutral. Some drivers use the clutch only for
starting from a stop, and shifts are done without the clutch. Other drivers will depress (disengage)
the clutch, shift to neutral, then engage the clutch momentarily to force transmission parts to match
the engine speed, then depress the clutch again to shift to the next gear, a process called double
clutching. Double clutching is easier to get smooth, as speeds that are close but not quite matched
need to speed up or slow down only transmission parts, whereas with the clutch engaged to the
engine, mismatched speeds are fighting the rotational inertia and power of the engine.
Even though automobile and light truck transmissions are now almost universally synchronized,
transmissions for heavy trucks and machinery, motorcycles, and for dedicated racing are usually
not. Non-synchronized transmission designs are used for several reasons. The friction material,
such as brass, in synchronizers is more prone to wear and breakage than gears, which are forged
steel, and the simplicity of the mechanism improves reliability and reduces cost. In addition, the
process of shifting a synchromesh transmission is slower than that of shifting a non-synchromesh
transmission. For racing of production-based transmissions, sometimes half the teeth on the dog
clutches are removed to speed the shifting process, at the expense of greater wear.
Heavy duty trucks often use unsynchronized transmissions, though military trucks usually have
synchronized transmissions, allowing untrained personnel to operate them in emergencies. In the
United States, traffic safety rules refer to non-synchronous transmissions in classes of
larger commercial motor vehicles. In Europe, heavy duty trucks use synchronized gearboxes as
Similarly, most modern motorcycles use unsynchronized transmissions: their low gear inertias and
higher strengths mean that forcing the gears to alter speed is not damaging, and the pedal operated
selector on modern motorcycles, with no neutral position between gears (except, commonly, 1st and
2nd), is not conducive to having the long shift time of a synchronized gearbox. On bikes with a 1-N-
2(-3-4...) transmission, it is necessary either to stop, slow down, or synchronize gear speeds by
blipping the throttle when shifting from 2nd into 1st.

Synchronized transmission[edit]

Top and side view of a typical manual transmission, in this case a Ford Toploader, used in cars with external
floor shifters.

Most modern manual-transmission vehicles are fitted with a synchronized gear box. Transmission
gears are always in mesh and rotating, but gears on one shaft can freely rotate or be locked to the
shaft. The locking mechanism for a gear consists of a collar (or dog collar) on the shaft which is able
to slide sideways so that teeth (or dogs) on its inner surface bridge two circular rings with teeth on
their outer circumference: one attached to the gear, one to the shaft hub. When the rings are bridged
by the collar, that particular gear is rotationally locked to the shaft and determines the output speed
of the transmission. The gearshift lever manipulates the collars using a set of linkages, so arranged
so that one collar may be permitted to lock only one gear at any one time; when "shifting gears", the
locking collar from one gear is disengaged before that of another is engaged. One collar often
serves for two gears; sliding in one direction selects one transmission speed, in the other direction
selects another.
In a synchromesh gearbox, to correctly match the speed of the gear to that of the shaft as the gear is
engaged the collar initially applies a force to a cone-shaped brass clutch attached to the gear, which
brings the speeds to match prior to the collar locking into place. The collar is prevented from bridging
the locking rings when the speeds are mismatched by synchro rings (also called blocker rings or
baulk rings, the latter being spelled balk in the U.S.). The synchro ring rotates slightly due to the
frictional torque from the cone clutch. In this position, the dog clutch is prevented from engaging. The
brass clutch ring gradually causes parts to spin at the same speed. When they do spin the same
speed, there is no more torque from the cone clutch and the dog clutch is allowed to fall into
engagement. In a modern gearbox, the action of all of these components is so smooth and fast it is
hardly noticed.
The modern cone system was developed by Porsche and introduced in the 1952 Porsche 356; cone
synchronisers were called Porsche-type for many years after this. In the early 1950s, only the
second-third shift was synchromesh in most cars, requiring only a single synchro and a simple
linkage; drivers' manuals in cars suggested that if the driver needed to shift from second to first, it
was best to come to a complete stop then shift into first and start up again. With continuing
sophistication of mechanical development, fully synchromesh transmissions with three speeds, then
four, and then five, became universal by the 1980s. Many modern manual transmission cars,
especially sports cars, now offer six speeds. The 2012 Porsche 911 offers a seven-speed manual
transmission, with the seventh gear intended for cruising- top speed being attained on sixth.
Reverse gear is usually not synchromesh, as there is only one reverse gear in the normal
automotive transmission and changing gears into reverse while moving is not requiredand often
highly undesirable, particularly at high forward speed. Additionally, the usual method of providing
reverse, with an idler gear sliding into place to bridge what would otherwise be two mismatched
forward gears, is necessarily similar to the operation of a crash box. Among the cars that have
synchromesh in reverse are the 19952000 Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique, '00'05 Chevrolet
Cavalier, Mercedes 190 2.3-16, the V6 equipped Alfa Romeo GTV/Spider (916),[2] certain Chrysler,
Jeep, and GM products which use the New Venture NV3500 and NV3550 units, the European Ford
Sierra and Granada/Scorpio equipped with the MT75 gearbox, the Volvo 850, and almost
all Lamborghinis, Hondas and BMWs.

Like other transmissions, a manual transmission has several shafts with various gears and other
components attached to them. Typically, a rear-wheel-drive transmission has three shafts: an input
shaft, a countershaft and an output shaft. The countershaft is sometimes called a layshaft.
In a rear-wheel-drive transmission, the input and output shaft lie along the same line, and may in fact
be combined into a single shaft within the transmission. This single shaft is called a mainshaft. The
input and output ends of this combined shaft rotate independently, at different speeds, which is
possible because one piece slides into a hollow bore in the other piece, where it is supported by a
bearing. Sometimes the term mainshaft refers to just the input shaft or just the output shaft, rather
than the entire assembly.
In many transmissions the input and output components of the mainshaft can be locked together to
create a 1:1 gear ratio, causing the power flow to bypass the countershaft. The mainshaft then
behaves like a single, solid shaft: a situation referred to as direct drive.
Even in transmissions that do not feature direct drive, it's an advantage for the input and output to lie
along the same line, because this reduces the amount of torsion that the transmission case has to
Under one possible design, the transmission's input shaft has just one pinion gear, which drives the
countershaft. Along the countershaft are mounted gears of various sizes, which rotate when the
input shaft rotates. These gears correspond to the forward speeds and reverse. Each of the forward
gears on the countershaft is permanently meshed with a corresponding gear on the output shaft.
However, these driven gears are not rigidly attached to the output shaft: although the shaft runs
through them, they spin independently of it, which is made possible by bearings in their hubs.
Reverse is typically implemented differently; see the section on Reverse.
Most front-wheel-drive transmissions for transverse engine mounting are designed differently. For
one thing, they have an integral final drive and differential. For another, they usually have only two
shafts; input and countershaft, sometimes called input and output. The input shaft runs the whole
length of the gearbox, and there is no separate input pinion. At the end of the second
(counter/output) shaft is a pinion gear that mates with the ring gear on the differential.
Front-wheel and rear-wheel-drive transmissions operate similarly. When the transmission is put in
neutral and the clutch is disengaged, the input shaft, clutch disk and countershaft can continue to
rotate under their own inertia. In this state, the engine, the input shaft and clutch, and the output
shaft all rotate independently.
Dog clutch[edit]
Dog clutches. The gear-like teeth ("dogs", right-side images) engage and disengage with each other.

Among many different types of clutches, a dog clutch provides non-slip coupling of two rotating
members. It is not at all suited to intentional slipping, in contrast with the foot-operated friction clutch
of a manual-transmission car.
The gear selector does not engage or disengage the actual gear teeth which are permanently
meshed. Rather, the action of the gear selector is to lock one of the freely spinning gears to the shaft
that runs through its hub. The shaft then spins together with that gear. The output shaft's speed
relative to the countershaft is determined by the ratio of the two gears: the one permanently attached
to the countershaft, and that gear's mate which is now locked to the output shaft.
Locking the output shaft with a gear is achieved by means of a dog clutch selector. The dog clutch is
a sliding selector mechanism which is splined to the output shaft, meaning that its hub has teeth that
fit into slots (splines) on the shaft, forcing that shaft to rotate with it. However, the splines allow the
selector to move back and forth on the shaft, which happens when it is pushed by a selector fork that
is linked to the gear lever. The fork does not rotate, so it is attached to a collar bearing on the
selector. The selector is typically symmetric: it slides between two gears and has a synchromesh
and teeth on each side in order to lock either gear to the shaft.

Synchronizer rings

Synchromesh transmission was introduced by Cadillac in 1928.[3] If the dog teeth make contact with
the gear, but the two parts are spinning at different speeds, the teeth will fail to engage and a loud
grinding sound will be heard as they clatter together. For this reason, a modern dog clutch in an
automobile has a synchronizer mechanism or synchromesh, which consists of a cone clutch and
blocking ring. Before the teeth can engage, the cone clutch engages first, which brings the selector
and gear to the same speed using friction. Until synchronization occurs, the teeth are prevented from
making contact, because further motion of the selector is prevented by a blocker (or baulk) ring.
When synchronization occurs, friction on the blocker ring is relieved and it twists slightly, bringing
into alignment certain grooves or notches that allow further passage of the selector which brings the
teeth together. The exact design of the synchronizer varies among manufacturers.
The synchronizer[4] has to overcome the momentum of the entire input shaft and clutch disk when it
is changing shaft rpm to match the new gear ratio. It can be abused by exposure to the momentum
and power of the engine, which is what happens when attempts are made to select a gear without
fully disengaging the clutch. This causes extra wear on the rings and sleeves, reducing their service
life. When an experimenting driver tries to "match the revs" on a synchronized transmission and
force it into gear without using the clutch, the synchronizer will make up for any discrepancy in RPM.
The success in engaging the gear without clutching can deceive the driver into thinking that the RPM
of the layshaft and transmission were actually exactly matched. Nevertheless, approximate rev.
matching with clutching can decrease the difference in rotational speed between the layshaft and
transmission gear shaft, therefore decreasing synchro wear.
Synchronizing rings are made of metal and can be provided with anti-wear coatings called a friction
lining. Common metals for synchronizer rings are brass and steel. The linings typically consist
of molybdenum, iron, bronze or carbon. The synchronizing rings are produced either by massive
forming (common forging) or sheet metal shaping. The latter involves the stamping of the blank out
of a sheet metal strip and the subsequent machining with follow-on composite tools or transfer tools.
A friction lining usually consists of thermally splashed molybdenum.
Alternatively, iron or bronze sinter friction layers can be used. Carbon-coated synchronizer rings are
particularly wear resistant and offer very good friction behavior. Due to their higher price, these are
reserved for high-performance transmissions.[5]
Transmissions with brass synchronizer components are generally not suitable for use with GL-5
specification oil unless specifically stated by the manufacturer as the extreme pressure (EP)
additives in the oil are corrosive to brass and bronze components at high temperatures and
decrease the synchronizer effectiveness at low temperatures. The additives in GL-5 oil also cause
physical damage to brass synchronizers as the EP additives bond more strongly to the brass than
the brass does to itself, causing a small layer of brass to be worn off with every gear
change.[6][7] Instead, oil which meets only the GL-4 specification should be used whenever possible.
The previous discussion normally applies only to the forward gears. The implementation of the
reverse gear is usually different, implemented in the following way to reduce the cost of the
transmission. Reverse is also a pair of gears: one gear on the countershaft and one on the output
shaft. However, whereas all the forward gears are always meshed together, there is a gap between
the reverse gears. Moreover, they are both attached to their shafts: neither one rotates freely about
the shaft. When reverse is selected a small gear, called an idler gear or reverse idler, is slid between
them. The idler has teeth which mesh with both gears, and thus it couples these gears together and
reverses the direction of rotation without changing the gear ratio.
In other words, when reverse gear is selected, it is in fact actual gear teeth that are being meshed,
with no aid from a synchronization mechanism. For this reason, the output shaft must not be rotating
when reverse is selected: the car must be stopped. In order that reverse can be selected without
grinding even if the input shaft is spinning inertially, there may be a mechanism to stop the input
shaft from spinning. The driver brings the vehicle to a stop, and selects reverse. As that selection is
made, some mechanism in the transmission stops the input shaft. Both gears are stopped and the
idler can be inserted between them. There is a clear description of such a mechanism in the Honda
Civic 19961998 Service Manual, which refers to it as a "noise reduction system":
Whenever the clutch pedal is depressed to shift into reverse, the mainshaft continues to rotate
because of its inertia. The resulting speed difference between mainshaft and reverse idler gear
produces gear noise [grinding]. The reverse gear noise reduction system employs a cam plate which
was added to the reverse shift holder. When shifting into reverse, the 5th/reverse shift piece,
connected to the shift lever, rotates the cam plate. This causes the 5th synchro set to stop the
rotating mainshaft.


A reverse gear implemented this way makes a loud whining sound, which is not normally heard in
the forward gears. The teeth on the forward gears of most consumer automobiles are helically cut.
When helical gears rotate, there is constant contact between gears, which results in quiet operation.
In spite of all forward gears being always meshed, they do not make a sound that can be easily
heard above the engine noise. By contrast, most reverse gears are spur gears, meaning that they
have straight teeth, in order to allow for the sliding engagement of the idler, which is difficult with
helical gears. The teeth of spur gears clatter together when the gears spin, generating a
characteristic whine.
Attempting to select reverse while the vehicle is moving forward causes severe gear wear (except in
transmissions with synchromesh on the reverse gear). However, most manual transmissions have a
gate that locks out reverse directly from 5th gear to help prevent this. In order to engage reverse
from 5th, the shift lever has to be moved to the center position between 3rd and 4th, then back over
and into reverse. Another widespread solution places reverse to the left of 1st gear, instead of
behind the 5th (where you might expect to find a 6th gear). Similarly, many newer six-speed manual
transmissions have a collar under the shift knob which must be lifted to engage reverse to also help
prevent this.
The spur gear design of reverse gear represents some compromises (less robust, unsynchronized
engagement and loud noise) which are acceptable due to the relatively small amount of driving that
takes place in reverse. The gearbox of the classic SAAB 900 is a notable example of a gearbox with
a helical reverse gear engaged in the same unsynchronized manner as the spur gears described
above. Its design allows reverse to share cogs with first gear, and is exceptionally quiet, but results
in difficult engagement and unreliable operation. However, many modern transmissions now include
a reverse gear synchronizer and helical gearing.
Design variations[edit]
Ratio count[edit]
Until the mid-1950s (earlier in Europe and later in the US, on average) cars were generally equipped
with 3-speed transmissions as standard equipment. 4-speed units began to appear on volume-
production models in the 1930s (Europe) and 1950s (USA) and gained popularity in the 1960s;
some exotics had 5-speeds. In the 1970s, as fuel prices rose and fuel economy became an
important selling feature, 4-speed transmissions with an overdrive 4th gear or 5-speeds were offered
in mass market automobiles and even compact pickup trucks, pioneered by Toyota (who advertised
the fact by giving each model the suffix SR5 as it acquired the fifth speed). 6-speed transmissions
started to emerge in high-performance vehicles in the early 1990s. 7-speed transmissions appeared
on extreme high-end supercars, such as the 2005 Bugatti Veyron (semi-automatic manual
transmission). In 2012, the Porsche 911 featured a 7-speed manual transmission, becoming the first
of its class to support this feature, paving the way for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Today, mass market automotive manual transmissions are nearly all at least 5-speed. Four-speed
manual transmission had fallen into almost total disuse by the end of the 1980s, having gradually
become less common on cars during the 1980s. By the early 1990s, it was normally only found on
cars with engines of around 1.0 litres.[citation needed]
It has been widely anticipated that for electric vehicles (EVs), clutches and multi-speed gearboxes
would not be required, as electric motors can drive the vehicle both forward and reverse from zero
speed and typically operate over a wider speed range than combustion engines. Elimination of the
gearbox represents a significant reduction in powertrain weight and complexity, and also removes a
notable source of parasitic losses. The majority of first-generation consumer EVs have therefore
been single-speed. However, current trends indicate that multi-speed gearboxes are likely to return
for many future EVs. This allows the use of smaller, lower torque motors running at higher speeds to
achieve both greater torque at the wheels for low speed tractive effort, and higher top road speed.
Modest efficiency gains are also possible by reducing the proportion of the time that the motor(s)
operate at very low speeds where efficiency is reduced. The wider speed range of motors means
that the number of ratios required is lower than for combustion engine vehicles, with two to four
speed designs emerging as the optimum depending on application.
Initially the Tesla Roadster was intended to have a purpose-built two-speed manual
transmission[8] but this gearbox proved to be problematic and was later replaced with a fixed-ratio
Gear ratios[edit]
The slowest gears (designated '1' or low gear) in most automotive applications allow for three to four
engine rotations for each output revolution (3:1). High, or "top", gear in many earlier three or four
speed manual transmissions locks the output shaft to spin at the same speed as the engine (1:1).
Five and six speed gearboxes are almost always 'overdrive' in top gear with the engine turning less
than a full turn for each revolution of the output shaft, 0.8:1 for example (however, the final drive, or
differential, always has further reduction gearing).
External overdrive[edit]
Main article: Overdrive
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, fuel-efficient highway cruising with low engine speed was in some
cases enabled on cars equipped with 3- or 4-speed transmissions by means of a
separate overdrive unit in or behind the rear housing of the transmission. This was actuated either
manually while in high gear by throwing a switch or pressing a button on the gearstick knob or on the
steering column, or automatically by momentarily lifting the foot from the accelerator with the car
travelling above a certain road speed. Automatic overdrives were disengaged by flooring the
accelerator, and a lockout control was provided to enable the driver to disable overdrive and operate
the transmission as a normal (non-overdrive) transmission.[9]
Shaft and gear configuration[edit]
On a conventional rear-drive transmission, there are three basic shafts; the input, the output, and the
countershaft. The input and output together are called the mainshaft, since they are joined inside the
transmission so they appear to be a single shaft, although they rotate totally independently of each
other. The input length of this shaft is much shorter than the output shaft. Parallel to the mainshaft is
the countershaft. There are a number of gears fixed along the countershaft, and matching gears
along the output shaft, although these are not fixed, and rotate independently of the output shaft.
There are sliding dog collars, or dog clutches, between the gears on the output shaft, and to engage
a gear to the shaft, the collar slides into the space between the shaft and the inside space of the
gear, thus rotating the shaft as well. One collar is usually mounted between two gears, and slides
both ways to engage one or the other gears, so on a four-speed there would be two collars. A front-
drive transmission is basically the same, but may be simplified. There often are two shafts, the input
and the output, but depending on the direction of rotation of the engine, three may be required.
Rather than the input shaft driving the countershaft with a pinion gear, the input shaft takes over the
countershaft's job, and the output shaft runs parallel to it. The gears are positioned and engaged just
as they are on the countershaft and output shaft of a rear-drive. This merely eliminates one major
component, the pinion gear. Part of the reason that the input and output are in-line on a rear drive
unit is to relieve torsional stress on the transmission and mountings, but this isn't an issue in a front-
drive as the gearbox is integrated into the transaxle.
The basic process is not universal. The fixed and free gears can be mounted on either the input or
output shaft, or both.
The distribution of the shifters is also a matter of design; it need not be the case that all of the free-
rotating gears with selectors are on one shaft, and the permanently splined gears on the other. For
instance a five-speed transmission might have the first-to-second selectors on the countershaft, but
the third-to-fourth selector and the fifth selector on the mainshaft, which is the configuration in the
1998 Honda Civic. This means that when the car is stopped and idling in neutral with the clutch
engaged and the input shaft spinning, the third, fourth and fifth gear pairs do not rotate.
In some transmission designs (Volvo 850 and V/S70 series, for example) there are actually two
countershafts, both driving an output pinion meshing with the front-wheel-drive transaxle's ring gear.
This allows the transmission designer to make the transmission narrower, since each countershaft
need only be half as long as a traditional countershaft with four gears and two shifters.
Some automotive manual transmissions had freewheeling capability in the 1930s through 1960s.

Main article: Clutch
In all vehicles using a transmission (virtually all modern vehicles), a coupling device is used to
separate the engine and transmission when necessary. This is because an internal-combustion
engine must continue to run when in use, although a few modern cars shut off the engine when the
vehicle is stationary. The clutch accomplishes this in manual transmissions. Without it, the engine
and tires would at all times be inextricably linked, and any time the vehicle stopped, the engine
would stall. Without the clutch, changing gears would be very difficult, even with the vehicle moving
already: deselecting a gear while the transmission is under load requires considerable force (and
risks significant damage). As well, selecting a gear requires the revolution speed of the engine to be
held at a very precise value which depends on the vehicle speed and desired gear the speeds
inside the transmission have to match. In a car, the clutch is usually operated by a pedal; on a
motorcycle, a lever on the left handlebar serves the purpose.

When the clutch pedal is fully depressed, the clutch is fully disengaged, and no torque is
transferred from the engine to the transmission (and by extension to the drive wheels). In this
uncoupled state it is possible to select gears or to stop the car without stopping the engine.
When the clutch pedal is fully released, the clutch is fully engaged and all of the engine's torque
is transferred. In this coupled state, the clutch does not slip, but rather acts as rigid coupling to
transmit power to the gearbox.
Between these extremes of engagement and disengagement the clutch slips to varying degrees.
When slipping it still transmits torque despite the difference in speeds between the engine
crankshaft and the transmission input. Because this torque is transmitted by means of friction
rather than direct mechanical contact, considerable power is wasted as heat (which is dissipated
by the clutch). Properly applied, slip allows the vehicle to be started from a standstill, and when it
is already moving, allows the engine rotation to gradually adjust to a newly selected gear ratio.
Learning to use the clutch efficiently requires the development of muscle memory and a level of
A rider of a highly tuned motocross or off-road motorcycle may "hit" or "fan" the clutch when
exiting corners to assist the engine in revving to the point where it delivers the most power.
The clutch is typically disengaged by a thrust bearing that makes contact with pressure petals on the
clutch ring plate and pushes them inward to release the clutch pad friction. Normally the bearing
remains retracted away from the petals and does not spin. However, the bearing can be "burned out"
and damaged by using the clutch pedal as a foot rest, which causes the bearing to spin continuously
from touching the clutch plates.
Float shifting[edit]
Main article: Float shifting
Float shifting or floating gears is changing gears without depressing the clutch, usually on a non-
synchronized transmission. Since the clutch is not used, it is easy to mismatch speeds of gears, and
the driver can quickly cause major (and expensive) damage to the gears and the transmission. Float
shifting is often done on large trucks with standard (non-synchronized) gearboxes.

Gear shift types[edit]

Floor-mounted shifter[edit]
Main article: Gear stick
In most vehicles with manual transmission, gears are selected by manipulating a lever called a gear
stick, shift stick, gearshift, gear lever, gear selector, or shifter connected to the transmission via
linkage or cables and mounted on the floor, dashboard, or steering column. Moving the lever
forward, backward, left, and right into specific positions selects particular gears.
A sample layout of a four-speed transmission is shown below. N marks neutral, the position wherein
no gears are engaged and the engine is decoupled from the vehicle's drive wheels. The entire
horizontal line is a neutral position, though the shifter is usually spring-loaded so it will return to the
centre of the N position if not moved to another gear. The R marks reverse, the gear position used
for moving the vehicle backward.

This layout is called the shift pattern. Because of the shift quadrants, the basic arrangement is often
called an H-pattern. The shift pattern is usually molded or printed on or near the gear knob.
Typically, first gear is engaged at the top left position with second below, third up to the right with
fourth, below, and so on. The only other pattern used in production vehicle manual transmissions is
known as a Dog-leg gearbox pattern. This pattern locates first at bottom left position, second up and
to the right with third below, fourth up and to the right, and so on. This pattern is found primarily in
race and race inspired vehicles. Placing the selection position for second gear above the position for
third gear is desirable in racing as more frequent shifting occurs from second to third than from first
to second.
Independent of the shift pattern, the location of the reverse gear may vary. Depending on the
particular transmission design, reverse may be located at the upper left extent of the shift pattern, at
the lower left, at the lower right, or at the upper right. There is often a mechanism that allows
selection of reverse only from the neutral position, or a reverse lockout that must be released by
depressing the spring-loaded gear knob or lifting a spring-loaded collar on the shift stick, to reduce
the likelihood of the driver inadvertently selecting reverse.
"Three on the Tree" vs "Four on the Floor"[edit]
During the period when U.S. cars usually had only three forward speeds and the steering column
was the most common shifter location, this layout was sometimes called "three on the tree". In
contrast European cars and performance cars mostly used a four-speed transmission with floor-
mounted shifters. This layout was then referred to as "four on the floor".
Most FR (front-engined, rear-wheel drive) cars have a transmission that sits between the driver and
the front passenger seat. Floor-mounted shifters are often connected directly to the transmission. FF
(front-engined, front-wheel drive) cars, RR (rear-engined, rear-wheel drive) cars and front-engined
cars with rear-mounted gearboxes often require a mechanical linkage to connect the shifter to the
Column-mounted shifter[edit]

Column mounted gear shift lever in a Saab 96

Some cars have a gear lever mounted on the steering column of the car. A 3-speed column shifter,
which came to be popularly known as a "Three on the Tree", began appearing in America in the late
1930s and became common during the 1940s and 1950s. If a U.S. vehicle was equipped
with overdrive, it was very likely to be a Borg-Warner type, operated by briefly backing off the gas
when above 28 mph (45 km/h) to enable, and momentarily flooring the gas pedal to return to normal
gear. The control simply disables overdrive for such situations as parking on a hill or preventing
unwanted shifting into overdrive.[citation needed]

Later,[vague] European and Japanese models began to have 4-speed column shifters with this shift

A majority of American-spec vehicles sold in the U.S. and Canada had a 3-speed column-mounted
shifterthe first generation Chevrolet/GMC vans of 1964-70 vintage had an ultra-rare 4-speed
column shifter. The column-mounted manual shifter disappeared in North America by the mid-1980s,
last appearing in the 1987 Chevrolet pickup truck. Outside North America, the column-mounted
shifter remained in production. All Toyota Crown and Nissan Cedric taxis in Hong Kong had the 4-
speed column shift until 1999 when automatic transmissions were first offered. Since the late 1980s
or early 1990s,[vague] a 5-speed column shifter has been offered in some vans sold in Asia and
Europe, such as Toyota Hiace, Mitsubishi L400 and the first-gen Fiat Ducato.
Column shifters are mechanically similar to floor shifters, although shifting occurs in a vertical plane
instead of a horizontal one. Because the shifter is further away from the transmission, and the
movements at the shifter and at the transmission are in different planes, column shifters require
more complicated linkage than floor shifters. Advantages of a column shifter are the ability to switch
between the two most commonly used gearssecond and thirdwithout letting go of the steering
wheel, and the lack of interference with passenger seating space in vehicles equipped with a bench
Console-mounted shifter[edit]
Some smaller cars in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Citron 2CV, Renault 4L and early Renault
5 feature a shifter in the dash panel. This was cheaper to manufacture than a column shifter and
more practical, as the gearbox was mounted in front of the engine. The linkage for the shifter could
then be positioned on top of the engine. The disadvantage is that shifting is less comfortable and
usually slower to operate.
Newer small cars and MPVs, like the Suzuki MR Wagon, the Fiat Multipla, the Toyota Matrix,
the Pontiac Vibe, the Chrysler RT platform cars, the Honda Element, the Honda Civic, and
the Honda Avancier may feature a manual or automatic transmission gear shifter located on the
vehicle's instrument panel, similar to the mid-1950s Chryslers and Powerglide Corvairs. Console-
mounted shifters are similar to floor-mounted gear shifters in that most of the ones used in modern
cars operate on a horizontal plane and can be mounted to the vehicle's transmission in much the
same way a floor-mounted shifter can. However, because of the location of the gear shifter in
comparison to the locations of the column shifter and the floor shifter, as well as the positioning of
the shifter to the rest of the controls on the panel often require that the gearshift be mounted in a
space that does not feature a lot of controls integral to the vehicle's operation or frequently used
controls, such as those for the car stereo or car air conditioning, to help prevent accidental activation
or driver confusion, especially in right-hand drive cars.
More and more small cars and vans from manufacturers such as Suzuki, Honda,
and Volkswagen are featuring console shifters in that they free up space on the floor for other car
features such as storage compartments without requiring that the gear shift be mounted on the
steering column. Also, the basic location of the gear shift in comparison to the column shifter makes
console shifters easier to operate than column shifters.
Sequential manual[edit]
Main article: Sequential manual transmission
Some transmissions do not allow the driver to arbitrarily select any gear. Instead, the driver may only
ever select the next-lower or next-higher gear ratio. Sequential transmissions often incorporate a
synchro-less dog-clutch engagement mechanism (instead of the synchromesh dog clutch common
on H-pattern automotive transmissions), in which case the clutch is only necessary when selecting
first or reverse gear from neutral, and most gear changes can be performed without the clutch.
However, sequential shifting and synchro-less engagement are not inherently linked, though they
often occur together due to the environment(s) in which these transmissions are used, such as
racing cars and motorcycles.
Sequential transmissions are generally controlled by a forward-backward lever, foot pedal, or set of
paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. In some cases, these are connected mechanically to
the transmission. In many modern examples, these controls are attached to sensors which instruct a
transmission computer to perform a shiftmany of these systems can be switched into an automatic
mode, where the computer controls the timing of shifts, much like an automatic transmission.
In motorcycles[edit]
Motorcycles typically employ sequential transmissions, although the shift pattern is modified slightly
for safety reasons. In a motorcycle the gears are usually shifted with the left foot pedal, the layout
being this:

The gear shift lever on a 2003 Suzuki SV650S motorcycle.

1 - N - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 (- 6)
The pedal goes one stepboth up and downfrom the center, before it reaches its limit and has to be
allowed to move back to the center position. Thus, changing multiple gears in one direction is
accomplished by repeatedly pumping the pedal, either up or down. Although neutral is listed as
being between first and second gears for this type of transmission, it "feels" more like first and
second gear are just "further away" from each other than any other two sequential gears. Because
this can lead to difficulty in finding neutral for inexperienced riders most motorcycles have a neutral
indicator light on the instrument panel to help find neutral. The reason neutral does not actually have
its own spot in the sequence is to make it quicker to shift from first to second when moving. Neutral
can be accidentally shifted into, though most high end, newer model motorcycles have means of
avoiding this.[citation needed] The reason for having neutral between the first and second gears instead of
at the bottom is that when stopped, the rider can just click down repeatedly and know that they will
end up in first and not neutral. This allows a rider to quickly move his bike from a standstill in an
emergency situation. This may also help on a steep hill on which high torque is required. It could be
disadvantageous or even dangerous to attempt to be in first without realizing it, then try for a lower
gear, only to get neutral.
On motorcycles used on race tracks, the shifting pattern is often reversed, that is, the rider clicks
down to upshift. This usage pattern increases the ground clearance by placing the rider's foot above
the shift lever when the rider is most likely to need it, namely when leaning over and exiting a tight
The shift pattern for most underbone or miniature motorcycles with an automatic centrifugal clutch is
also modified for two key reasonsto enable the less-experienced riders to shift the gears without
problems of "finding" neutral, and also due to the greater force needed to "lift" the gearshift lever
(because the gearshift pedal of an underbone motorcycle also operates the clutch). The gearshift
lever of an underbone has two ends. The rider clicks down the front end with the left toe all the way
to the top gear and clicks down the rear end with the heel all the way down to neutral, while
miniatures still retain a single-end lever, with the rider clicks down to upshift and lift the lever up to
downshift (or vice versa). Some underbone models such as the Honda Wave have a "rotary" shift
pattern, which means that the rider can shift directly to neutral from the top gear, but for safety
reasons this is only possible when the motorcycle is stationary. Some models also have gear
position indicators for all gear positions at the instrument panel.
Some new transmissions (Alfa Romeo's Selespeed gearbox and BMW's Sequential Manual
Gearbox (SMG) for example) are conventional manual transmissions with a computerized control
mechanism. These transmissions feature independently selectable gears but do not have
a clutch pedal. Instead, the transmission computer controls a servo which disengages the clutch
when necessary.
These transmissions vary from sequential transmissions in that they still allow nonsequential shifts:
the SMG system formerly used by BMW, for example, could shift from 6th gear directly to 4th gear.
An early version of this type of transmission was the Autostick, which was used in the Volkswagen
Beetle and Karmann Ghia from 1967 to 1976, where the clutch was disengaged by servo when the
driver pushed downward slightly on the gear shift lever. This was a 3-speed unit.
In the case of the early second generation Saab 900, a 'Sensonic' option was available where gears
were shifted with a conventional shifter, but the clutch is controlled by a computer.
See semi-automatic transmission for more examples.
Short shifter[edit]

Comparison between a stock shifter and a short shifter

A short shifter, also known as a short throw shifter, is the result of an automotive
aftermarket modification of the manual transmissions' stick shift either by modification of the existing
stick shift or, alternately, by the replacement of the entire part.
The purpose of the modification is to mechanically reduce time between the changing of gears while
accelerating or decelerating, thus improving the automobiles' performance. The modification of the
existing stick shift, also known as a manual gear stick, can take two forms: either the physical
shortening of the existing stick shift, known in the industry as 'chopping', or bending. By reducing the
length of the stick shift, the distance it must travel to change gears is effectively reduced, thus
reducing the time spent shifting. At the same time, the amount of force required to shift increases
due to a shorter lever.
Some major car manufacturers such as Subaru, Mazda and Porsche offer short shifters as stock
modifications such as in the Subaru WRX, Subaru WRX STI, Subaru BRZ, Mazda Miata, and as an
option such as in the Porsche 911.[10][11]
Finger shift[edit]
This section needs expansion. You
can help by adding to it. (July 2014)

In Japan, finger shift is used on buses. Its system is made by Robert Bosch GmbH. Sometimes it is
also referred as Electro-pneumatic gearbox or Finger control transmission (FCT).
In shift operations using mechanical link mechanisms in rear-engined buses, the FCT detected the
position of the shift lever and converted it into an electronic signal. These signals were then used to
perform transmission changes using air pressure. This resulted in easy shift changes and reduced
driver fatigue, and also reduced the weight of the link mechanism. A pseudo-reaction force was
added to the operation to reduce driver discomfort. Moreover, elaborate fail-safe mechanisms were
incorporated, such as one that prevented mis-shifts, and one that assured safe driving in the event
of system failure. The FCT was used in MP series heavy duty route buses from November 1983
after basic research and multiple prototypes and practical tests over 10 years. It gained popularity in
combination with measures to assist older drivers, and in the following year, it was applied to large
heavy duty tour buses.[12]

Fuel economy[edit]
The manual transmission couples the engine to the transmission with a rigid clutch instead of
the torque converter on an automatic transmission or the v-belt of a continuously variable
transmission,[13] which slip by nature. Manual transmissions also lack the parasitic power
consumption of the automatic transmission's hydraulic pump. Because of this, manual transmissions
generally offer better fuel economy than automatic or continuously variable transmissions; however
the disparity has been somewhat offset with the introduction of locking torque converters on
automatic transmissions.[14] Increased fuel economy with a properly operated manual transmission
vehicle versus an equivalent automatic transmission vehicle can range from 5% to about 15%
depending on driving conditions and style of driving.[15] The lack of control over downshifting under
load in an automatic transmission, coupled with a typical vehicle engine's greater efficiency under
higher load, can enable additional fuel gains from a manual transmission by allowing the operator to
keep the engine performing under a more efficient load/RPM combination. This is especially true as
between manual and automatic versions of older models, as more recent advances including
variable valve timing reduce the efficiency disadvantages of automatic transmissions by allowing
better performance over a broader RPM range. In recognition of this, many current models (2010
and on) come with manual modes, or overrides on automatic models, although the degree of control
varies greatly by the manufacturer. Also, manual transmissions do not require active cooling and
because they are, mechanically, much simpler than automatic transmissions, they generally weigh
less than comparable automatics, which can improve economy in stop-and-go traffic.[14] However this
gap in economy is being rapidly closed, and many mid to higher end model automatic cars now get
better economy than their standard spec counterparts[citation needed]. This is in part due to the increasing
impact of computers co-ordinating multiple systems, particularly in hybrid models in which the engine
and drive motors must be managed, as well as using different automatic technology such as CVT
and Dual-Clutch Automatics.
Longevity and cost[edit]
Because manual transmissions are mechanically simpler, are more easily manufactured, and have
fewer moving parts than automatic transmissions, they require less maintenance and are easier as
well as cheaper to repair. Due to their mechanical simplicity, they often last longer than automatic
transmissions when used by a skilled driver. Typically, there are no electrical components, pumps
and cooling mechanisms in a manual transmission, other than an internal switch to activate
reversing lighting. These attributes become extremely vital with a vehicle stuck in mud, snow, etc.
The back and forth rocking motion of the vehicle drivers use to dislodge a stuck vehicle can destroy
automatic transmissions. Clutches are a wear item that may need to be replaced at some point in
the vehicle's lifespan, however the service life of the clutch depends on the operating conditions that
it is subjected to.
The price of a new car with a manual transmission tends to be lower than the same car with an
automatic transmission.
Most new cars are available in manual or automatic transmission versions. There is often a
difference in cost between the two. Manual transmissions generally cost less than automatic
transmissions. For example, the base price of a Chevrolet Cruze 2LT with a manual transmission is
$22,120, while the base price of the automatic is $23,405a difference of $1,285.
Most manual transmissions rely on splash lubrication although some five speed Rover gearboxes
did incorporate an oil pump. The problem with splash lubrication is that it is speed dependent. There
are centrifugal effects, hydrodynamic effects and effects from the gears working as pumps. If a
gearbox is fitted with Perspex windows and run on a test rig these effects can be observed. As the
gearbox is run through its rev range, the oil jets will switch over and move around. Research on the
Austin Maxi 1500 gearbox showed that one of the ball races was running dry at 80 miles per hour
(130 km/h). The solution was to alter the casting to include a small projection that would intercept the
main oil jet that was present at 80 mph and disperse it. This small modification enabled the later
Maxi 1750 gearbox to be relatively trouble free. Four speed gearboxes seldom show these problems
because at top speed (and maximum power) they are basically a solid shaft and the gears are not
transmitting power.
Performance and control[edit]
Manual transmissions have generally offered a wider selection of gear ratios. Many vehicles offer a
5-speed or 6-speed manual, whereas the automatic option would typically be a 4-speed. This is
generally due to the increased space available inside a manual transmission compared with an
automatic, since the latter requires extra components for self-shifting, such as torque converters and
pumps. However, automatic transmissions are now adding more speeds as the technology
matures. ZF currently manufactures 7- and 8-speed automatic transmissions. ZF is also planning a
9-speed automatic for use in front-wheel drive vehicles.[16] The increased number of gears allows for
better use of the engine's power band, resulting in increased fuel economy by staying in the most
fuel-efficient part of the power band, or higher performance, thereby remaining closer to the engine's
peak power rating. Even with more forward speeds and the potential of designing more forward
gears to offer higher speed and/or torque, the manual transmission remains smaller and much more
compact than its larger, automatic cousin, as referenced by the 991 Generation of the Porsche
911 and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, which offer a 7-speed manual transmission.
Engine braking[edit]
In contrast to most manual gearboxes, most automatic transmissions have far less effective engine
braking. This means that the engine does not slow the car as effectively when the automatic
transmission driver releases the engine speed control. This leads to more usage of the brakes in
cars with automatic transmissions, bringing shorter brake life. Brakes are also more likely to
overheat in hilly or mountainous areas, causing reduced braking ability, brake fade, and the potential
for complete failure with the automatic transmission vehicle.
Push Starting[edit]
Vehicles with a manual transmission can often be push started when the starter motor is not
operational, usually due to a low battery.

Complexity and learning curve[edit]
For most people, there is a slight learning curve with a manual transmission, which may be
intimidating and unappealing for an inexperienced driver. Because the driver must develop a feel for
properly engaging the clutch, an inexperienced driver will often stall the engine. Most drivers can
learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission in as little as an hour, although it may take
weeks before it becomes "second nature". Additionally, if an inexperienced driver selects an
inappropriate gear by mistake, damage to mechanical components and even loss of control may
occur. Learning clutch/throttle pedal coordination can be made easier by using the clutch pedal only,
on a level surface. This will allow the operator to gauge where the "sweet spot" of clutch
engagement is. Correct "release speed" of the clutch pedal (slow for smooth, fast for abrupt) will
indicate when and where throttle pedal use should occur.
In many jurisdictions, such as the UK, a driving license issued for cars with an automatic
transmission is not valid for driving vehicles with a manual transmission, but a license for manual
transmissions covers both.[17]
Shifting speed[edit]
Automatic transmissions can typically shift ratios faster than a manual gear change can be
accomplished, due to the time required for the average driver to push the clutch pedal to the floor
and move the gearstick from one position to another. This is especially true in regards to dual-clutch
transmissions, which are specialized computer-controlled automatic transmissions that mechanically
operate more like a manual transmission than a traditional automatic one.
Ease of use[edit]
Because manual transmissions require the operation of an extra pedal, and keeping the car in the
correct gear at all times, they require a bit more concentration, especially in heavy traffic situations.
The automatic transmissions, on the other hand, simply require the driver to speed up or slow down
as needed, with the car doing the work of choosing an appropriate gear. Manual transmissions also
place a greater workload on the driver in heavy traffic situations, when the driver must operate the
clutch pedal quite often. Because the clutch pedal can require a substantial amount of force,
especially on large trucks, and the long pedal travel compared to the brake or accelerator requires
moving the entire leg, not just the foot near the ankle, a manual transmission can cause fatigue, and
is more difficult for weak or injured people to drive. Additionally, because automatic transmissions
can be driven with only one foot, people with one leg that is missing or impaired can still drive, unlike
the manual transmission that requires the use of two feet at once. Likewise, manual transmissions
require the driver to remove one hand periodically from the steering wheel while the vehicle is in
motion, which can be difficult or impossible to do safely for people with a missing or impaired arm,
and requires increased coordination, even for those with full use of both hands.
Stopping on hills[edit]
The clutch experiences most of its wear in first gear because moving the car from a standstill
involves a great deal of friction at the clutch. When accelerating from a standstill on an incline, this
problem is made worse because the amount of work needed to overcome the acceleration of gravity
causes the clutch to heat up considerably more. For this reason, stop-and-go driving and hills tend to
have an effect on the clutches to a certain degree. Automatic transmissions are better suited for
these applications because they have a hydraulic torque converter which is externally cooled, unlike
a clutch. Torque converters also do not have a friction material that rubs off over time like a clutch.
Some automatics even lock the output shaft so that the car cannot roll backwards when beginning to
accelerate up an incline. To reduce wear in these applications, some manual transmissions will have
a very low, "granny" gear which provides the leverage to move the vehicle easily at very low speeds.
This reduces wear at the clutch because the transmission requires less input torque. However, the
issue of handling stops on hills is easy to learn.
Many drivers use the parking brake to prevent the car from rolling backward when starting to
accelerate up a steep hill. This saves precious clutch life. Some modern cars such as the Dodge
Challenger and most Subaru models have a "Hill-Start Assist" feature. The vehicle's computer
applies just enough brake pressure to prevent the car from rolling backwards. This allows the driver
to start normally with no additional effort, even on steep hills.
Starting on a hill with the aid of the parking brake is not always possible since in recent cars that
feature an Electric Park Brake the parking brake can only be released when the brake pedal is

Applications and popularity[edit]

Sports cars are also often equipped with manual transmissions because they offer more direct driver
involvement and better performance, though this is changing as many automakers move to faster
dual-clutch transmissions, which are generally shifted with paddles located behind the steering
wheel. For example, the 991 Porsche 911 GT3 uses Porsche's PDK. Off-road vehicles and trucks
often feature manual transmissions because they allow direct gear selection and are often more
rugged than their automatic counterparts.
Conversely, manual transmissions are no longer popular in many classes of cars sold in North
America, Australia and some parts of Asia, although they remain dominant in Europe, Asia, Africa
and Latin America. Nearly all cars are available with an automatic transmission option, and family
cars and large trucks sold in the US are predominantly fitted with automatics, however in some
cases if a buyer wishes he/she can have the car fitted with a manual transmission at the factory. In
Europe most cars are sold with manual transmissions. Most luxury cars are only available with an
automatic transmission. In most cases where both transmissions are available for a given car,
automatics are an at cost option, but in some cases the reverse is true. Some cars, such as rental
cars and taxis, are nearly universally equipped with automatic transmissions in countries such as the
US, but the opposite is true in Europe.[18] As of 2008, 75.2% of vehicles made in Western Europe
were equipped with manual transmission, versus 16.1% with automatic and 8.7% with other.[19]
When a driver takes the licensing road test using an automatic transmission in some places, the
resulting license is restricted to the use of automatic transmissions. This is the case in countries
such as New Zealand (for the second-phase Restricted license, but not the final Full license),
the European Union with the exception of member countries that opt to disallow road tests on
automatic vehicles completely, China, Dominican
Republic, Israel, Jordan, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri
Lanka, Switzerland, and the U.A.E. This treatment of the manual transmission skill seems to
maintain the widespread use of the manual transmission. As many new drivers worry that their
restricted license will become an obstacle for them where most cars have manual transmissions,
they make the effort to learn with manual transmissions and obtain full licenses. Some other
countries (such
as Turkey, Greece, Georgia, India, Pakistan, Portugal, Malaysia, Serbia, Brazil, Ukraine and Denmar
k) go even further, whereby the license is granted only when a test is passed on a manual
transmission. In Denmark and Brazil drivers are allowed to take the test on an automatic if they are
handicapped, but with such a license they will not be allowed to drive a car with a manual
Arcade games[edit]
A number of racing arcade games from the 80s such as Pole Position and Out Run only offered a
two-speed manual transmission option without an automatic transmission option for the
player;[20][21] some later arcade games such as Turbo Outrun started to offer an option for two-speed
manual or automatic transmission selection by the player.[22] Later on, arcade games such as Hard
Drivin' and its Race Drivin' sequel, along with Daytona USA started offering at least four gear
selections including on the manual transmission shifter used by the player. Some racing arcade
games require the player to use a clutch pedal during gear changes when a vehicle with manual
transmission is selected such as in Hard Drivin' and its Race Drivin' sequel, along with Ridge Racer
Full Scale.

Truck transmissions[edit]
Some trucks have transmissions that look and behave like ordinary car transmissionsthese
transmissions are used on lighter trucks, typically have up to 6 gears, and usually
have synchromesh.
For trucks needing more gears, the standard "H" pattern can get very complicated, so additional
controls are used to select additional gears. The "H" pattern is retained, then an additional control
selects among alternatives. In older trucks, the control is often a separate lever mounted on the floor
or more recently a pneumatic switch mounted on the "H" lever; in newer trucks the control is often an
electrical switch mounted on the "H" lever. Multi-control transmissions are built in much higher power
ratings, but rarely use synchromesh.
There are several common alternatives for the shifting pattern. Usual types are:

Range transmissions use an "H" pattern through a narrow range of gears, then a "range"
control shifts the "H" pattern between high and low ranges. For example, an 8-speed range
transmission has an H shift pattern with four gears. The first through fourth gears are accessed
when low range is selected. To access the fifth through eighth gears, the range selector is
moved to high range, and the gear lever again shifted through the first through fourth gear
positions. In high range, the first gear position becomes fifth, the second gear position becomes
sixth, and so on.
Splitter transmissions use an "H" pattern with a wide range of gears, and the other selector
splits each sequential gear position in two: First gear is in first position/low split, second gear is
in first position/high split, third gear is in second position/low split, fourth gear is in second
position/high split, and so on.
Range-Splitter transmissions combine range-splitting and gear-splitting. This allows even
more gear ratios. Both a range selector and a splitter selector are provided.
Although there are many gear positions, shifting through gears usually follows a regular pattern. For
example, a series of upshifts might use "move to splitter direct; move to splitter overdrive; move shift
lever to No. 2 and move splitter to underdrive; move splitter to direct; move splitter to overdrive;
move shift lever to No. 3 and move splitter to underdrive"; and so on. In older trucks using floor-
mounted levers, a bigger problem is common gear shifts require the drivers to move their hands
between shift levers in a single shift, and without synchromesh, shifts must be carefully timed or the
transmission will not engage. For this reason, some splitter transmissions have an additional "under
under" range, so when the splitter is already in "under" it can be quickly downshifted again, without
the delay of a double shift.
Today's truck transmissions are most commonly "range-splitter". The most common 13-speed has a
standard H pattern, and the pattern from left upper corner is as follows: R, down to L, over and up to
1, down to 2, up and over to 3, down to 4. The "butterfly" range lever in the center front of the knob is
flipped up to high range while in 4th, then shifted back to 1. The 1 through 4 positions of the knob
are repeated. Also, each can be split using the thumb-actuated under-overdrive lever on the left side
of the knob while in high range. The "thumb" lever is not available in low range, except in 18 speeds;
1 through 4 in low range can be split using the thumb lever and L can be split with the "Butterfly"
lever. L cannot be split using the thumb lever in either the 13- or 18-speed. The 9-speed
transmission is basically a 13-speed without the under-overdrive thumb lever.
Truck transmissions use many physical layouts. For example, the output of an N-speed transmission
may drive an M-speed secondary transmission, giving a total of N*M gear combinations; for example
a 4-speed main box and 3-speed splitter gives 12 ratios. Transmissions may be in separate cases
with a shaft in between; in separate cases bolted together; or all in one case, using the same
lubricating oil. The second transmission is often called a "Brownie" or "Brownie box" after a popular
brand. With a third transmission, gears are multiplied yet again, giving greater range or closer
spacing. Some trucks thus have dozens of gear positions, although most are duplicates. Sometimes
a secondary transmission is integrated with the differential in the rear axle, called a "two-speed rear
end". Two-speed differentials are always splitters. In newer transmissions, there may be two
countershafts, so each main shaft gear can be driven from one or the other countershaft; this allows
construction with short and robust countershafts, while still allowing many gear combinations inside
a single gear case.
Heavy-duty transmissions are almost always non-synchromesh. One argument is synchromesh
adds weight that could be payload, is one more thing to fail, and drivers spend thousands of hours
driving so can take the time to learn to drive efficiently with a non-synchromesh transmission. Heavy-
duty trucks driven frequently in city traffic, such as cement mixers, need to be shifted very often and
in stop-and-go traffic. Since few heavy-duty transmissions have synchromesh, automatic
transmissions are commonly used instead, despite their increased weight, cost, and loss of
Heavy trucks are usually powered with diesel engines. Diesel truck engines from the 1970s and
earlier tend to have a narrow power band, so need many close-spaced gears. Starting with the
1968 Maxidyne, diesel truck engines have increasingly used turbochargers and electronic controls
that widen the power band, allowing fewer and fewer gear ratios. A transmission with fewer ratios is
lighter and may be more efficient due to fewer transmissions in series. Fewer shifts also makes the
truck more drivable. As of 2005, fleet operators often use 9, 10, 13 or 18-speed transmissions, but
automated manual and semi-automatic transmissions are becoming more common on heavy
vehicles, as they can improve efficiency and drivability, reduce the barrier to entry for new drivers,
and may improve safety by allowing the driver to concentrate on road conditions.

Crash gearbox[edit]

Diagram showing a three-speed gearbox. First, Second and Reverse gears are 'crash' engagement, while third
is direct drive. The constant-mesh gears drive the layshaft for first, second, and reverse.
A crash gearbox, also known as a crash box, is a transmission type used in old cars, trucks, and
other automotive vehicles. It is more properly called a "sliding mesh" gearbox and has the nickname
"crash" because it is difficult to change gears, so gear changes are often accompanied by loud
noises. The etymology of "crash" is probably "clash".
In a sliding-mesh gearbox, individual gears are mounted so they always engage the shaft, but gears
on one shaft can be moved axially. To engage a particular pair of gears, one gear is slid axially until
it fully engages a gear on the other shaft. If the gear shafts are spinning so the two gears have the
same surface speed, the gears are relatively easy to engage. However, if speeds are mismatched,
the gears tend to "bounce" off each other at first contact and resist engagement. Thus, gear
engagement relies on the driver carefully matching speeds, typically through practice and intuition.
In contrast, newer "constant mesh" transmissions use gears that are held axially, but gears on one
shaft spin freely on the shaft. Gear pairs in the transmission are always in mesh, though at most one
is engaged at any time. Each free-spinning gear has a dog clutch which is engaged by an axial
sliding collar that transfers power to the shaft. The dog clutch may be plain, also called "non-
synchromesh", or may use an additional synchromesh mechanism that helps get the parts moving at
the same speed to assist engagement. Many constant mesh transmissions use a sliding-mesh gear
for reverse, but since reverse is only engaged from near a stop, it is still easy to engage.
A constant-mesh transmission offers several advantages over a sliding-mesh design. First, the dog
clutch is designed for the task, rather than asking the gear to do dual duty of power transmission and
sliding engagement. Second, the dog clutch is typically smaller in diameter than the gear it controls,
so absolute speeds of the engaging parts are lower, aiding engagement. Thus, while a non-
synchromesh transmission still relies on the operator to match speeds, gears are easier to engage.
Third, a constant-mesh transmission can easily use helical gears which are smoother, quieter, and
can carry more torque for a given size of gear. Fourth, a constant-mesh transmission can use
synchromesh for easier shifting; while many heavy vehicle transmissions do not use it, most
medium- and light-duty automotive transmissions do.

Because clutches use changes in friction to modulate the transfer of torque between engine and
transmission, they are subject to wear in everyday use. A very good clutch, when used by an expert
driver, can last hundreds of thousands of kilometres (or miles). Weak clutches, abrupt downshifting,
inexperienced drivers, and aggressive driving can lead to more frequent repair or replacement.
Manual transmissions are lubricated with gear oil or engine oil in some cars, which must be changed
periodically in some cars, although not as frequently as the automatic transmission fluid in a vehicle
so equipped. (Some manufacturers specify that changing the gear oil is never necessary except
after transmission work or to rectify a leak.)
Gear oil has a characteristic aroma due to the addition of sulfur-bearing anti-wear compounds.
These compounds are used to reduce the high sliding friction by the helical gear cut of the teeth (this
cut eliminates the characteristic whine of straight cut spur gears). On motorcycles with "wet" clutches
(clutch is bathed in engine oil), there is usually nothing separating the lower part of the engine from
the transmission, so the same oil lubricates both the engine and transmission. The
original Mini placed the gearbox in the oil sump below the engine, thus using the same oil for both.
The clutch was however a fairly conventional dry plate clutch.

Reverse (green engaged)

Neutral (blue and purple in the middle, green disengaged)

First gear (blue, to back)

Second gear (blue, to front)

Third gear (purple, to back)

Fourth gear (purple, to front)

How Manual Transmissions


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Mercedes-Benz Actros, manual transmission. See morepictures of transmissions.

If you drive a stick-shift car, then you may have several questions floating in your
How does the funny "H" pattern that I am moving this shift knob through have
any relation to the gears inside the transmission? What is moving inside the
transmission when I move the shifter?
When I mess up and hear that horrible grinding sound, what is actually
grinding? What would happen if I were to accidentally shift into reverse while I
am speeding down the freeway? Would the entire transmission explode?
In this article, we'll answer all of these questions and more as we explore the
interior of a manual transmission.
Cars need transmissions because of the physics of the gasoline engine. First,
any engine has a redline -- a maximum rpm value above which the engine
cannot go without exploding. Second, if you have read How Horsepower Works,
then you know that engines have narrow rpm ranges where horsepower and
torque are at their maximum. For example, an engine might produce its
maximum horsepower at 5,500 rpm. The transmission allows the gear
ratio between the engine and the drive wheels to change as the car speeds up
and slows down. You shift gears so the engine can stay below the redline and
near the rpm band of its best performance.
Ideally, the transmission would be so flexible in its ratios that the engine could
always run at its single, best-performance rpm value. That is the idea behind
the continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Automatic transmission
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the mechanical transmission type. For other uses of "AT", see AT

Transmission types


Sequential manual



Continuously variable

Bicycle gearing

Derailleur gears
Hub gears


An 8-gear automatic transmission

Cutaway showing the typical positioning of an automatic transmission from the interior of an automobile

An automatic transmission, also called auto, self-shifting transmission, n-speed

automatic (where n is its number of forward gear ratios), or AT, is a type of motor
vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the
driver from having to shift gears manually. Like other transmission systems on vehicles, it allows
an internal combustion engine, best suited to run at a relatively high rotational speed, to provide a
range of speed and torque outputs necessary for vehicular travel. The number of forward gear ratios
is often expressed for manual transmissions as well (e.g., 6-speed manual).
The most popular form found in automobiles is the hydraulic automatic transmission. Similar but
larger devices are also used for heavy-duty commercial and industrial vehicles and equipment. This
system uses a fluid coupling in place of a friction clutch, and accomplishes gear changes by
hydraulically locking and unlocking a system of planetary gears. These systems have a defined set
of gear ranges, often with a parking pawl that locks the output shaft of the transmission to keep the
vehicle from rolling either forward or backward. Some machines with limited speed ranges or fixed
engine speeds, such as some forklifts and lawn mowers, only use a torque converter to provide a
variable gearing of the engine to the wheels.
Besides the traditional hydraulic automatic transmissions, there are also other types of automated
transmissions, such as a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and semi-automatic
transmissions, that free the driver from having to shift gears manually, by using the transmission's
computer to change gear, if for example the driver were redlining the engine. Despite superficial
similarity to other transmissions, traditional automatic transmissions differ significantly in internal
operation and driver's feel from semi-automatics and CVTs. In contrast to conventional automatic
transmissions, a CVT uses a belt or other torque transmission scheme to allow an "infinite" number
of gear ratios instead of a fixed number of gear ratios. A semi-automatic retains a clutch like a
manual transmission, but controls the clutch through electrohydraulic means. The ability to shift
gears manually, often via paddle shifters, can also be found on certain automated transmissions
(manumatics such as Tiptronic), semi-automatics (BMW SMG, VW Group DSG), and CVTs (such
as Lineartronic).
The obvious advantage of an automatic transmission to the driver is the lack of a clutch pedal and
manual shift pattern in normal driving. This allows the driver to operate the car with as few as two
limbs (possibly using assist devices to position controls within reach of usable limbs), allowing
amputees and other disabled individuals to drive. The lack of manual shifting also reduces the
attention and workload required inside the cabin, such as monitoring the tachometer and taking a
hand off the wheel to move the shifter, allowing the driver to ideally keep both hands on the wheel at
all times and to focus more on the road. Control of the car at low speeds is often easier with an
automatic than a manual, due to a side effect of the clutchless fluid-coupling design called "creep"
that causes the car to want to move while in a driving gear, even at idle. The primary disadvantage
of the most popular hydraulic designs is reduced mechanical efficiency of the power transfer
between engine and drivetrain, due to the fluid coupling connecting the engine to the gearbox. This
can result in lower power/torque ratings for automatics compared to manuals with the same engine
specs, as well as reduced fuel efficiency in city driving as the engine must maintain idle against the
resistance of the fluid coupling. Advances in transmission and coupler design have narrowed this
gap considerably, but clutch-based transmissions (manual or semi-automatic) are still preferred in
sport-tuned trim levels of various production cars, as well as in many auto racing leagues.
The automatic transmission was invented in 1921 by Alfred Horner Munro of Regina, Saskatchewan,
Canada, and patented under Canadian patent CA 235757 in 1923. (Munro obtained UK patent
GB215669 215,669 for his invention in 1924 and US patent 1,613,525 on 4 January 1927). Being a
steam engineer, Munro designed his device to use compressed air rather than hydraulic fluid, and so
it lacked power and never found commercial application.[1] The first automatic transmission using
hydraulic fluid may have been developed in 1932 by two Brazilian engineers, Jos Braz Araripe and
Fernando Lehly Lemos; subsequently the prototype and plans were sold to General Motors who
introduced it in the 1940 Oldsmobile as the "Hydra-Matic" transmission.[2] They were incorporated
into GM-built tanks during World War II and, after the war, GM marketed them as being "battle-
tested."[citation needed] However, a Wall Street Journal article credits ZF Friedrichshafen with the invention,
occurring shortly after World War I. ZF's origins were in manufacturing gears for airship engines
beginning in 1915; the company was founded by Ferdinand von Zeppelin.[3]


2Parts and operation
o 2.1Hydraulic automatic transmissions
2.1.1Torque converter
2.1.2Planetary gears train
2.1.3Hydraulic controls
o 2.2Continuously variable transmissions
o 2.3Dual-clutch transmissions
o 2.4Automatic transmission modes
o 2.5Manual controls
o 2.6Manufacturer-specific modes
3Comparison with manual transmission
o 3.1Effects on vehicle control
3.1.2Maintaining constant speed
3.1.3Controlling wheelspin
3.1.4Climbing steep slippery slopes
o 3.2Energy efficiency
4Automatic transmission models
5See also
7Further reading
8External links

Modern automatic transmissions can trace their origins to an early "horseless carriage" gearbox that
was developed in 1904 by the Sturtevant brothers of Boston, Massachusetts. This unit had two
forward speeds, the ratio change being brought about by flyweights that were driven by the engine.
At higher engine speeds, high gear was engaged. As the vehicle slowed down and engine RPM
decreased, the gearbox would shift back to low. Unfortunately, the metallurgy of the time wasn't up
to the task, and owing to the abruptness of the gear change, the transmission would often fail
without warning.
The next significant phase in the automatic transmission's development occurred in 1908 with the
introduction of Henry Ford's remarkable Model T. The Model T, in addition to being cheap and
reliable by the standards of the day, featured a simple, two speed plus reverse planetary
transmission whose operation was manually controlled by the driver using pedals. The pedals
actuated the transmission's friction elements (bands and clutches) to select the desired gear. In
some respects, this type of transmission was less demanding of the driver's skills than the
contemporary, unsynchronized manual transmission, but still required that the driver know when to
make a shift, as well as how to get the car off to a smooth start.
In 1934, both REO and General Motors developed semi-automatic transmissions that were less
difficult to operate than a fully manual unit. These designs, however, continued to use a clutch to
engage the engine with the transmission. The General Motors unit, dubbed the "Automatic Safety
Transmission," was notable in that it employed a power-shifting planetary gearbox that was
hydraulically controlled and was sensitive to road speed, anticipating future development.
Parallel to the development in the 1930s of an automatically shifting gearbox was Chrysler's work on
adapting the fluid coupling to automotive use. Invented early in the 20th century, the fluid coupling
was the answer to the question of how to avoid stalling the engine when the vehicle was stopped
with the transmission in gear. Chrysler itself never used the fluid coupling with any of its automatic
transmissions, but did use it in conjunction with a hybrid manual transmission called "Fluid Drive"
(the similar Hy-Drive used a torque converter). These developments in automatic gearbox and fluid
coupling technology eventually culminated in the introduction in 1939 of the General Motors Hydra-
Matic, the world's first mass-produced automatic transmission.
Available as an option on 1940 Oldsmobiles and later Cadillacs, the Hydra-Matic combined a fluid
coupling with three hydraulically controlled planetary gearsets to produce four forward speeds plus
reverse. The transmission was sensitive to engine throttle position and road speed, producing fully
automatic up- and down-shifting that varied according to operating conditions.
The Hydra-Matic was subsequently adopted by Cadillac and Pontiac, and was sold to various other
automakers, including Bentley, Hudson, Kaiser, Nash, and Rolls-Royce. It also found use
during World War II in some military vehicles. From 1950 to 1954, Lincoln cars were also available
with the Hydra-Matic. Mercedes-Benz subsequently devised a four-speed fluid coupling transmission
that was similar in principle to the Hydra-Matic, but of a different design.
Interestingly, the original Hydra-Matic incorporated two features which are widely emulated in today's
transmissions. The Hydra-Matic's ratio spread through the four gears produced excellent "step-off"
and acceleration in first, good spacing of intermediate gears, and the effect of an overdrive in fourth,
by virtue of the low numerical rear axle ratio used in the vehicles of the time. In addition, in third and
fourth gear, the fluid coupling only handled a portion of the engine's torque, resulting in a high
degree of efficiency. In this respect, the transmission's behavior was similar to modern units
incorporating a lock-up torque converter.
In 1956, GM introduced the "Jetaway" Hydra-Matic, which was different in design than the older
model. Addressing the issue of shift quality, which was an ongoing problem with the original Hydra-
Matic, the new transmission utilized two fluid couplings, the primary one that linked the transmission
to the engine, and a secondary one that replaced the clutch assembly that controlled the forward
gearset in the original. The result was much smoother shifting, especially from first to second gear,
but with a loss in efficiency and an increase in complexity. Another innovation for this new style
Hydra-Matic was the appearance of a Park position on the selector. The original Hydra-Matic, which
continued in production until the mid-1960s, still used the reverse position for parking pawl
The first torque converter automatic, Buick's Dynaflow, was introduced for the 1948 model year. It
was followed by Packard's Ultramatic in mid-1949 and Chevrolet's Powerglide for the 1950 model
year. Each of these transmissions had only two forward speeds, relying on the converter for
additional torque multiplication. In the early 1950s, BorgWarner developed a series of three-speed
torque converter automatics for American Motors, Ford Motor Company, Studebaker, and several
other manufacturers in the US and other countries. Chrysler was late in developing its own true
automatic, introducing the two-speed torque converter PowerFlite in 1953, and the three-
speed TorqueFlite in 1956. The latter was the first to utilize the Simpson compound planetary
General Motors produced multiple-turbine torque converters from 1954 to 1961. These included the
Twin-Turbine Dynaflow and the triple-turbine Turboglide transmissions. The shifting took place in the
torque converter, rather than through pressure valves and changes in planetary gear connections.
Each turbine was connected to the drive shaft through a different gear train. These phased from one
ratio to another according to demand, rather than shifting. The Turboglide actually had two speed
ratios in reverse, with one of the turbines rotating backwards.
By the late 1960s, most of the fluid-coupling four-speed and two-speed transmissions had
disappeared in favor of three-speed units with torque converters. Also around this time, whale
oil was removed from automatic transmission fluid.[4] By the early 1980s, these were being
supplemented and eventually replaced by overdrive-equipped transmissions providing four or more
forward speeds. Many transmissions also adopted the lock-up torque converter (a mechanical clutch
locking the torque converter pump and turbine together to eliminate slip at cruising speed) to
improve fuel economy.
As computerized engine control units (ECUs) became more capable, much of the logic built into the
transmission's valve body was offloaded to the ECU. Some manufacturers use a separate computer
dedicated to the transmission called a transmission control unit (TCU), also known as the
transmission control module (TCM), which share information with the engine management computer.
In this case, solenoids turned on and off by the computer control shift patterns and gear ratios, rather
than the spring-loaded valves in the valve body. This allows for more precise control of shift points,
shift quality, lower shift times, and (on some newer cars) semi-automatic control, where the driver
tells the computer when to shift. The result is an impressive combination of efficiency and
smoothness. Some computers even identify the driver's style and adapt to best suit it.
ZF Friedrichshafen and BMW were responsible for introducing the first six-speed (the ZF 6HP26 in
the 2002 BMW E65 7-Series). Mercedes-Benz's 7G-Tronic was the first seven-speed in 2003,
with Toyota introducing an eight-speed in 2007 on the Lexus LS 460. Derived from the 7G-
Tronic, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a semi-automatic transmission with the torque converter replaced
with a wet multi clutch called the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT.[5] The 2014 Jeep Cherokee has the
world's first nine-speed automatic transmission for a passenger vehicle to market.

Parts and operation[edit]

Hydraulic automatic transmissions[edit]
The predominant form of automatic transmission is hydraulically operated; using a fluid coupling or
torque converter, and a set of planetary gearsets to provide a range of gear ratios.
A cutaway of an 8-speed ZF 8HP showing the major stages of a hydraulic automatic transmission: the torque
converter (left), the planetary gearsets and clutch plates (center), as well as hydraulic and electronic controls

Hydraulic automatic transmissions consist of three major components:[6]

Torque converter[edit]
A type of fluid coupling, hydraulically connecting the engine to the transmission. This takes the place
of a friction clutch in a manual transmission.[7] It transmits and decouples the engine power to the
planetary gears, allowing the vehicle to come to stop with the engine still running without stalling.[6]
A torque converter differs from a fluid coupling, in that it provides a variable amount
of torque multiplication at low engine speeds, increasing breakaway acceleration. A fluid coupling
works well when both the impeller and turbine are rotating at similar speeds, but it is very inefficient
at initial acceleration, where rotational speeds are very different. This torque multiplication is
accomplished with a third member in the coupling assembly known as the stator, which acts to
modify the fluid flow depending on the relative rotational speeds of the impeller and turbine. The
stator itself does not rotate, but its vanes are so shaped that when the impeller (which is driven by
the engine) is rotating at a high speed and the turbine (which receives the transmitted power) is
spinning at a low speed, the fluid flow hits the vanes of the turbine in a way that multiplies the torque
being applied. This causes the turbine to begin spinning faster as the vehicle accelerates (ideally),
and as the relative rotational speeds equalize, the torque multiplication diminishes. Once the
impeller and turbine are rotating within 10% of each other's speed, the stator ceases to function and
the torque converter acts as a simple fluid coupling.
Planetary gears train[edit]
Consisting of planetary gear sets as well as clutches and bands. These are the mechanical systems
that provide the various gear ratios, altering the speed of rotation of the output shaft depending on
which planetary gears are locked.[8]
To effect gear changes, one of two types of clutches or bands are used to hold a particular member
of the planetary gearset motionless, while allowing another member to rotate, thereby transmitting
torque and producing gear reductions or overdrive ratios. These clutches are actuated by the valve
body (see below), their sequence controlled by the transmission's internal programming. Principally,
a type of device known as a sprag or roller clutch is used for routine upshifts/downshifts. Operating
much as a ratchet, it transmits torque only in one direction, free-wheeling or "overrunning" in the
other. The advantage of this type of clutch is that it eliminates the sensitivity of timing a simultaneous
clutch release/apply on two planetaries, simply "taking up" the drivetrain load when actuated, and
releasing automatically when the next gear's sprag clutch assumes the torque transfer. The bands
come into play for manually selected gears, such as low range or reverse, and operate on the
planetary drum's circumference. Bands are not applied when drive/overdrive range is selected, the
torque being transmitted by the sprag clutches instead. Bands are used for braking; the GM Turbo-
Hydramatics incorporated this.[citation needed].
Hydraulic controls[edit]
Uses special transmission fluid sent under pressure by an oil pump to control various clutches and
bands modifying the speed of the output depending on the vehicle's running condition.[6][8]
Not to be confused with the impeller inside the torque converter, the pump is typically a gear pump
mounted between the torque converter and the planetary gearset. It draws transmission fluid from a
sump and pressurizes it, which is needed for transmission components to operate. The input for the
pump is connected to the torque converter housing, which in turn is bolted to the engine's flexplate,
so the pump provides pressure whenever the engine is running and there is enough transmission
fluid, but the disadvantage is that when the engine is not running, no oil pressure is available to
operate the main components of the transmission, and is thus impossible to push-start a vehicle
equipped with an automatic transmission. Early automatic transmissions also had a rear pump for
towing purposes, ensuring the lubrication of the rear-end components.
The governor is connected to the output shaft and regulates the hydraulic pressure depending on
the vehicle speed. The engine load is monitored either by a throttle cable or a vacuum
modulator.[8] The valve body is the hydraulic control center that receives pressurized fluid from
the main pump operated by the fluid coupling/torque converter. The pressure coming from this pump
is regulated and used to run a network of spring-loaded valves, check balls and servo pistons. The
valves use the pump pressure and the pressure from a centrifugal governor on the output side (as
well as hydraulic signals from the range selector valves and the throttle valve or modulator) to
control which ratio is selected on the gearset; as the vehicle and engine change speed, the
difference between the pressures changes, causing different sets of valves to open and close. The
hydraulic pressure controlled by these valves drives the various clutch and brake band actuators,
thereby controlling the operation of the planetary gearset to select the optimum gear ratio for the
current operating conditions. However, in many modern automatic transmissions, the valves are
controlled by electro-mechanical servos which are controlled by the electronic engine control
unit (ECU) or a separate transmission control unit (TCU, also known as transmission control module
The hydraulic & lubricating oil, called automatic transmission fluid (ATF), provides lubrication,
corrosion prevention, and a hydraulic medium to convey mechanical power (for the operation of the
transmission). Primarily made from refined petroleum, and processed to provide properties that
promote smooth power transmission and increase service life, the ATF is one of the few parts of the
automatic transmission that needs routine service as the vehicle ages.
The multitude of parts, along with the complex design of the valve body, originally made hydraulic
automatic transmissions much more complicated (and expensive) to build and repair than manual
transmissions. In most cars (except US family, luxury, sport-utility vehicle, and minivan models) they
have usually been extra-cost options for this reason. Mass manufacturing and decades of
improvement have reduced this cost gap.
In some modern cars, computers use sensors on the engine to detect throttle position, vehicle
speed, engine speed, engine load, etc. to control the exact shift point. The computer transmits the
information via solenoids that redirect the fluid the appropriate clutch or servo to control shifting.[8]
Continuously variable transmissions[edit]
Main article: Continuously variable transmission
A fundamentally different type of automatic transmission is the continuously variable transmission,
or CVT, which can smoothly and steplessly alter its gear ratio by varying the diameter of a pair
of belt or chain-linked pulleys, wheels or cones. Some continuously variable transmissions use
a hydrostatic drive consisting of a variable displacement pump and a hydraulic motor to
transmit power without gears. Some early forms, such as the Hall system (which dates back to
1896[9]), used a fixed displacement pump and a variable displacement motor, and were designed to
provide robust variable transmission for early commercial heavy motor vehicles.[10] CVT designs are
usually as fuel efficient as manual transmissions in city driving, but early designs lose efficiency as
engine speed increases.[11]
A slightly different approach to CVT is the concept of toroidal CVT or infinitely variable
transmission (IVT). These concepts provide zero and reverse gear ratios.
Main article: Hybrid Synergy Drive
Some hybrid vehicles, notably those of Toyota, Lexus and Ford Motor Company, have an
electronically controlled CVT (E-CVT). In this system, the transmission has fixed gears, but the ratio
of wheel-speed to engine-speed can be continuously varied by controlling the speed of the third
input to a differential using motor-generators.
Dual-clutch transmissions[edit]
Main article: Dual-clutch transmission
A dual-clutch transmission, or DCT (sometimes referred to as a twin-clutch transmission or double-
clutch transmission), is a modern type of semi-automatic transmission and electrohydraulic manual
transmission. It uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets. It can fundamentally be
described as two separate manual transmissions (with their respective clutches) contained within
one housing, and working as one unit. They are usually operated in a fully automatic mode, and
many also have the ability to allow the driver to manually shift gears in semi-automatic mode, albeit
still using the transmission's electro-hydraulics.
Automatic transmission modes[edit]
Conventionally, in order to select the transmission operating mode, the driver moves a selection
lever located either on the steering column or on the floor (as with a manual on the floor, except that
automatic selectors on the floor do not move in the same type of pattern as manual levers do). In
order to select modes, or to manually select specific gear ratios, the driver must push a button in
(called the shift-lock button) or pull the handle (only on column mounted shifters) out. Some vehicles
position selector buttons for each mode on the cockpit instead, freeing up space on the central
Vehicles conforming to US Government standards[12] must have the modes ordered P-R-N-D-L (left
to right, top to bottom, or clockwise). Previously, quadrant-selected automatic transmissions often
used a P-N-D-L-R layout, or similar.[13] Such a pattern led to a number of deaths and injuries owing to
driver error causing unintentional gear selection, as well as the danger of having a selector (when
worn) jump into reverse from low gear during engine braking maneuvers.
A floor selection lever in a 1992 Ford Escort showing the P-R-N-[D]-D-L modes as well as the shift lock button
on the top of the lever

Depending on the model and make of the transmission, these controls can take several forms.
However most include the following:
Park (P)
This selection mechanically locks the output shaft of transmission, restricting the vehicle from
moving in any direction. A parking pawl prevents the transmission from rotating, and
therefore the vehicle from moving. However, it should be noted that the vehicle's non-driven
wheels are still free to rotate, and the driven wheels may still rotate individually (because of
the differential). For this reason, it is recommended to use the hand brake (parking brake)
because this actually locks (in most cases) the wheels and prevents them from moving. It is
typical of front-wheel-drive vehicles for the parking brake to lock the rear (non-driving)
wheels, so use of both the parking brake and the transmission park lock provides the
greatest security against unintended movement on slopes. This also increases the life of the
transmission and the park pin mechanism, because parking on an incline with the
transmission in park without the parking brake engaged will cause undue stress on the
parking pin, and may even prevent the pin from releasing. A hand brake should also prevent
the car from moving if a worn selector accidentally drops into reverse gear while idling.
A car should be allowed to come to a complete stop before setting the transmission into park
to prevent damage. Usually, Park (P) is one of only two selections in which the car's engine
can be started, the other being Neutral (N). This is typically achieved via a normally open
inhibitor switch (sometimes called a "neutral safety switch") wired in series with the starter
motor engagement circuit, which is closed when P or N is selected, completing the circuit
(when the key is turned to the start position). In many modern cars and trucks, the driver
must have the foot brake applied before the transmission can be taken out of park. The Park
position is omitted on buses/coaches (and some road tractors) with automatic transmission
(on which a parking pawl is not practical), which must instead be placed in neutral with the
air-operated parking brakes set.
Reverse (R)
This engages reverse gear within the transmission, permitting the vehicle to be driven
backward, and operates a switch to turn on the white backup lights for improved visibility (the
switch may also activate a beeper on delivery trucks or other large vehicles to audibly warn
other drivers and nearby pedestrians of the driver's reverse movement). To select reverse in
most transmissions, the driver must come to a complete stop, depress the shift-lock button
(or move the shift lever toward the driver in a column shifter, or move the shifter sideways
along a notched channel in a console shifter) and select reverse. The driver should avoid
engaging reverse while the vehicle is moving forwards, and likewise avoid engaging any
forward gear while travelling backwards. On transmissions with a torque converter, doing so
at very low speed (walking pace) is not harmful, but causes unnecessary wear on clutches
and bands, and a sudden deceleration that not only is uncomfortable, but also uncontrollable
since the brakes and the throttle contribute in the same direction. This sudden acceleration,
or jerk, can still be felt when engaging the gear at standstill, but the driver normally
suppresses this by holding the brakes. Travelling slowly in the right direction while engaging
the gear minimizes the jerk further, which is actually beneficial to the wearing parts of the
transmission. Electronically controlled transmissions may behave differently, as engaging a
gear at speed is essentially undefined behaviour. Some modern transmissions have a safety
mechanism that will resist putting the car in reverse when the vehicle is moving forward;
such a mechanism may consist of a solenoid-controlled physical barrier on either side of the
reverse position, electronically engaged by a switch on the brake pedal, so that the brake
pedal needs to be depressed in order to allow the selection of reverse. Some electronic
transmissions prevent or delay engagement of reverse gear altogether while the car is
Some shifters with a shift button allow the driver to freely move the shifter
from R to N or D without actually depressing the button. However, the driver cannot shift
back to R without depressing the shift button, to prevent accidental shifting which could
damage the transmission, especially at high speeds.
Neutral / No gear (N)
This disengages all gear trains within the transmission, effectively disconnecting the
transmission from the driven wheels, allowing the vehicle to coast freely under its own weight
and gain momentum without the motive force from the engine. Coasting in idle down long
grades (where law permits) should be avoided, though, as the transmission's lubrication
pump is driven by non-idle engine RPMs. Similarly, emergency towing with an automatic
transmission in neutral should be a last resort. Manufacturers understand emergency
situations and list limitations of towing a vehicle in neutral (usually not to exceed 55 mph and
50 miles). This is the only other selection in which the vehicle's engine may be started.
Drive (D)
This position allows the transmission to engage the full range of available forward gear
ratios, allowing the vehicle to move forward and accelerate through its range of gears. The
number of gear ratios within the transmission depends on the model, but they initially ranged
from three (predominant before the 1990s), to four and five speeds (losing popularity to six-
speed autos). Six-speed automatic transmissions are probably the most common offering in
cars and trucks from 2010 in carmakers as Toyota, GM and Ford. However, seven-speed
automatics are becoming available in some high-performance production luxury cars (found
in Mercedes 7G gearbox, Infiniti), as are eight-speed autos in models from 2006 introduced
by Aisin Seiki Co. in Lexus, ZF and Hyundai Motor Company. From 2013 are available nine
speeds transmissions produced by ZF and Mercedes 9G.
Overdrive ('D', 'OD', or a boxed [D] or the absence of an illuminated
'O/D OFF')
This mode is used in some transmissions to allow early computer-controlled transmissions to
engage the automatic overdrive. In these transmissions, Drive (D) locks the automatic
overdrive off, but is identical otherwise. OD (Overdrive) in these cars is engaged under
steady speeds or low acceleration at approximately 3545 mph (5672 km/h). Under hard
acceleration or below 3545 mph (5672 km/h), the transmission will automatically
downshift. Other vehicles with this selector (for example light trucks) will not only disable up-
shift to the overdrive gear, but keep the remaining available gears continuously engaged to
the engine for use of compression braking. Drivers should verify the behaviour of this switch
and consider the benefits of reduced friction brake use when city driving where speeds
typically do not necessitate the overdrive gear.
Most automatic transmissions include some means of forcing a
downshift (Throttle kickdown) into the lowest possible gear ratio if the
throttle pedal is fully depressed. In many older designs, kickdown is
accomplished by mechanically actuating a valve inside the
transmission. Most modern designs use a solenoid-operated valve that
is triggered by a switch on the throttle linkage or by the engine control
unit (ECU) in response to an abrupt increase in engine power.
Mode selection allows the driver to choose between preset shifting
programs. For example, Economy mode saves fuel by upshifting at
lower engine speeds, while Sport mode (aka "Power" or "Performance")
delays upshifting for maximum acceleration. Some transmission units
also have Winter mode, where higher gear ratios are chosen to keep
revs as low as possible while on slippery surfaces. The modes also
change how the computer responds to throttle input.
Conventionally, automatic transmissions have selector positions that
allow the driver to limit the maximum ratio that the transmission may
engage. On older transmissions, this was accomplished by a
mechanical lockout in the transmission valve body preventing an upshift
until the lockout was disengaged; on computer-controlled
transmissions, the same effect is accomplished by firmware. The
transmission can still upshift and downshift automatically between the
remaining ratios: for example, in the 3 range, a transmission could shift
from first to second to third, but not into fourth or higher ratios. Some
transmissions will still upshift automatically into the higher ratio if the
engine reaches its maximum permissible speed in the selected
range[citation needed].
Third (3)
This mode limits the transmission to the first three gear ratios, or sometimes locks the
transmission in third gear. This can be used to climb or going down hill. Some vehicles will
automatically shift up out of third gear in this mode if a certain revolutions per minute (RPM)
range is reached in order to prevent engine damage. This gear is also recommended while
towing a trailer.
Second (2 or S)
This mode limits the transmission to the first two gear ratios, or locks the transmission in
second gear on Ford, Kia, and Honda models. This can be used to drive in adverse
conditions such as snow and ice, as well as climbing or going down hills in winter. It is
usually recommended to use second gear for starting on snow and ice, and use of this
position enables this with an automatic transmission. Some vehicles will automatically shift
up out of second gear in this mode if a certain RPM range is reached in order to prevent
engine damage.
Although traditionally considered second gear, there are other names used. Chrysler models
with a three-speed automatic since the late 1980s have called this gear 3 while using the
traditional names for Drive and Low. Oldsmobile has called second gear as the 'Super' range
which was first used on their 4-speed Hydramatic transmissions, although the use of this
term continued until the early 1980s when GM's Turbo Hydramatic automatic transmissions
were standardized by all of their divisions years after the 4-speed Hydramatic was
Some automatics, particularly those fitted to larger capacity
or high torque engines, either when "2" is manually
selected, or by engaging a winter mode, will start off in
second gear instead of first, and then not shift into a higher
gear until returned to "D." Also note that as with most
American automatic transmissions, selecting "2" using the
selection lever will not tell the transmission to be in only
2nd gear; rather, it will simply limit the transmission to 2nd
gear after prolonging the duration of 1st gear through
higher speeds than normal operation. The 20002002
Lincoln LS V8 (the five-speed
automatic without manumatic capabilities, as opposed to
the optional sport package w/ manu-matic 5-speed) started
in 2nd gear during most starts both in winter and other
seasons by selecting the "D5" transmission selection notch
in the shiftgate (for fuel savings), whereas "D4" would
always start in 1st gear. This is done to reduce torque
multiplication when proceeding forward from a standstill in
conditions where traction was limited on snow- or ice-
covered roads, for example.
First (1 or L [Low])
This mode locks the transmission in first gear only. In older vehicles, it will not change to any
other gear range. Some vehicles will automatically shift up out of first gear in this mode if a
certain RPM range is reached in order to prevent engine damage. This, like second, can be
used during the winter season, for towing, or for downhill driving to increase the engine
braking effect. The "Austin Mini" automatic transmission is different in this respect - This
mode locks the transmission in first gear, but the gearbox has a freewheel on the overrun.
Closing the throttle after acceleration results in the vehicle continuing at the same speed and
only slowing down due to friction and wind resistance. During this time, the engine RPM will
drop back to idle until the throttle is pressed again. What this means is that in "First", engine
braking is not available and "2" is the lowest gear that should be used whilst descending

One type of manumatic shifting system available on

automatic transmissions are paddle shifters. The paddle
depicted here is the upshift paddle in a 2013 Honda
Accord, with the driver's hand on it. Manumatics and
paddle shifters may control any type of automatic
transmission, including the continuously variable
transmission in the Accord.

Manual controls[edit]
Some transmissions have a mode in which the driver
has full control of ratios change (either by moving the
selector, or through the use of buttons or paddles),
completely overriding the automated function of the
hydraulic controller. Such control is particularly useful
in cornering, to avoid unwanted upshifts or downshifts
that could compromise the vehicle's balance or
traction. "Manumatic" shifters, first popularized
by Porsche in the 1990s under the trade
name Tiptronic, have become a popular option
on sports cars and other performance vehicles. With
the near-universal prevalence of electronically
controlled transmissions, they are comparatively
simple and inexpensive, requiring only software
changes, and the provision of the actual manual
controls for the driver. The amount of true manual
control provided is highly variable: some systems will
override the driver's selections under certain
conditions, generally in the interest of preventing
engine damage. Since these gearboxes also have a
throttle kickdown switch, it is impossible to fully exploit
the engine power at low to medium engine
speeds[dubious discuss][citation needed].
Manufacturer-specific modes[edit]
As well as the above modes there are other modes,
dependent on the manufacturer and model. Some
examples include:
In Hondas and Acuras equipped with five-speed automatic transmissions, this mode is used
commonly for highway use (as stated in the manual), and uses all five forward gear ratios.
This mode is also found in Honda and Acura four or five-speed automatics, and only uses
the first four gear ratios. According to the manual, it is used for stop-and-go traffic, such as
city driving.
D3 or 3
This mode is found in Honda, Acura, Volkswagen and Pontiac four-speed automatics and
only uses the first three gear ratios. According to the manual, it is used for stop-and-go
traffic, such as city driving.
D2 and D1
These modes are found on older Ford transmissions (C6, etc.). In D1, all three gears are
used, whereas in D2 the car starts in second gear and upshifts to third.
S or Sport
This is commonly described as Sport mode. It operates in an identical manner as "D" mode,
except that the upshifts change much higher up the engine's rev range. This has the effect
on maximising all the available engine output, and therefore enhances the performance of
the vehicle, particularly during acceleration. This mode will also downchange much higher up
the rev range compared to "D" mode, maximising the effects of engine braking. This mode
will have a detrimental effect on fuel economy. Hyundai has a Norm/Power switch next to the
gearshift for this purpose on the Tiburon.
Some early GMs equipped with
HYDRA-MATIC transmissions
used (S) to indicate Second gear,
being the same as the 2 position
on a Chrysler, shifting between
only first and second gears. This
would have been recommended
for use on steep grades, or
slippery roads like dirt, or ice, and
limited to speeds under 40 mph.
(L) was used in some early GMs
to indicate (L)ow gear, being the
same as the 2 position on a
Chrysler, locking the transmission
into first gear. This would have
been recommended for use on
steep grades, or slippery roads
like dirt, or ice, and limited to
speeds under 15 mph.
+ , and M
This is for the Manual mode selection of gears in certain automatics, such as Porsche and
Honda's Tiptronic and BMW and Kia's Steptronic. The M feature can also be found in
vehicles such as the Dodge Magnum and Journey; Pontiac G6; Mazda3, Mazda6, and CX-
7; Toyota Camry, Corolla, Fortuner, Previa and Innova; Kia
Forte (K3/Cerato), Optima (K5), Cadenza (K7) and K9 (Quoris). Mitsubishi montero sport /
pajero sport and some Audi models (Audi TT) do not have the M, and instead have the + and
-, which is separated from the rest of the shift modes; the same is true for some Peugeot
products like the Peugeot 206. Meanwhile, the driver can shift up and down at will by
toggling the (console mounted) shift lever similar to a semi-automatic transmission. This
mode may be engaged either through a selector/position or by actually changing the gears
(e.g., tipping the gear-down paddles mounted near the driver's fingers on the steering
Winter (W)
In some Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and General Motors models, a winter mode can be
engaged so that second gear is selected instead of first when pulling away from stationary,
to reduce the likelihood of loss of traction due to wheel spin on snow or ice. On GM cars, this
was D2 in the 1950s, Second Gear Start after 1990, and Snow/Ice mode in the 2010s. On
Ford, Kia, and Honda automatics, this feature can be accessed by moving the gear selector
to 2 to start, then taking one's foot off the accelerator while selecting D once the vehicle is
Brake (B)
A mode selectable on some Toyota models, as well as electric cars from several
manufacturers. It can be used to decelerate, or maintain speed going downhill, without using
the conventional brakes. In non-hybrid cars, B mode selects a lower gear to increase engine
braking. GM called this "HR" ("hill retarder") and "GR" ("grade retarder") in the 1950s. In
hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, which have a fixed gear ratio, B mode slows the car in part
by increasing engine air intake, which enhances engine braking.[14] In electric cars such as
the Nissan Leaf[15] and Mitsubishi i-MiEV,[16] B mode increases the level of regenerative
braking when the accelerator pedal is released.
Some automatic
modified or designed
specifically for drag
racing may also
a transbrake as part
of a manual valve
body. Activated by
electrical solenoid
control, a transbrake
engages the first and
reverse gears, locking
the transmission and
preventing the input
shaft from turning.
This allows the driver
of the car to raise the
engine RPM against
the resistance of the
torque converter, then
launch the car by
simply releasing the
transbrake switch.

with manual
Most cars sold
in North
America since the
1950s have been
available with an
transmission based
on the fact that the
three major American
car manufacturers
had started using
automatics.[17] Conver
sely, in Europe a
manual gearbox is
standard, with 20% of
drivers opting for an
transmission.[18] In
some Asian markets
and in Australia,
transmissions have
become very popular
since the 1980s.[citation

Vehicles equipped
with automatic
transmissions are not
as complex to drive.
Consequently, in
some jurisdictions,
drivers who have
passed their driving
test in a vehicle with
an automatic
transmission will not
be licensed to drive a
manual transmission
vehicle. Conversely, a
manual license will
allow the driver to
drive vehicles with
either transmission.
Countries in which
such driving license
restrictions are
applied include some
in Australia, Austria,
Belgium, Belize, Chin
a, Croatia, Denmark,
Republic, Estonia, Fin
land, France, German
y, Hong
Kong, Hungary, India,
Indonesia, Ireland, Is
rael, Japan, Latvia, L
ebanon, Lithuania, M
acau, Mauritius,
the Netherlands, New
Zealand (restricted
only), Norway, Philipp
ines, Poland, Portugal
, Qatar, Romania, Ru
ssia (as of April
2014), Saudi
Arabia (as of March
2012), Singapore, Slo
venia, South
Africa, South
Korea, Spain, Swede
n, Switzerland, Taiwa
n, Trinidad and
Tobago, United Arab
Emirates and
the United
Kingdom.[citation needed]
A conventional
manual transmission
is frequently the base
equipment in a car,
with the option being
an automated
transmission such as
a conventional
automatic, semi-
automatic, or CVT.
Effects on
Unexpected gear
changes can affect
the attitude of a
vehicle in marginal
constant speed[edit]
Torque converters
and CVT
transmissions make
changes in vehicle
speed less apparent
by the engine noise,
as they decouple the
engine speed from
vehicle speed.
Lockup torque
converters that
engage and
disengage at certain
speeds can make
speeds unstable
the transmission
wastes less power
above the speed at
which the torque
converter locks up,
usually causing more
power to the wheels
for the same throttle
Torque converters
respond quickly to
loss of traction
(torque) by an
increased speed of
the driving wheels for
the same engine
speed. Thus, under
most conditions,
where the static
friction is higher than
the kinetic friction, the
engine speed must
be brought down to
counteract wheelspin
when it has occurred,
requiring a stronger
or quicker throttle
reduction by the
driver than with a
manual transmission,
making wheelspin
harder to control. This
is most apparent in
driving conditions with
much higher static
friction than kinetic,
such as packed hard
snow (that turns to ice
by friction work), or
snow on top of ice.
Climbing steep
slippery slopes[edit]
In situations where a
driver with a manual
transmission can't
afford a gearshift, in
fear of losing too
much speed to reach
a hilltop, automatic
transmissions are at a
great advantage
whereas the manual
driver depends on
finding a gear that is
not too low to enter
the bottom of the hill
at the necessary
speed, but not too
high to stall the
engine at the top of
the hill, sometimes an
impossible task, this
is a non-issue with
transmissions, not
just because
gearshifts are quick,
but they typically
maintain some power
on the driving wheels
during the gearshift.
Earlier hydraulic
transmissions were
almost always less
energy efficient
than manual
transmissions due
mainly to viscous and
pumping losses, both
in the torque
converter and the
hydraulic actuators.
21% is the loss on a 3
speed Chrysler
Torqueflite compared
to a modern GM 6L80
automatic. A relatively
small amount of
energy is required to
pressurize the
hydraulic control
system, which uses
fluid pressure to
determine the correct
shifting patterns and
operate the various
automatic clutch
However, with
developments some
modern Continuously
transmission are
more fuel efficient
than their manual
counterparts and
modern 8 speed
automatics are within
5% as efficient as a
manual gearbox.[19][20]
Manual transmissions
use a mechanical
clutch to transmit
torque, rather than a
torque converter, thus
avoiding the primary
source of loss in an
transmission. Manual
transmissions also
avoid the power
requirement of the
hydraulic control
system, by relying on
the human muscle
power of the vehicle
operator to disengage
the clutch and actuate
the gear levers, and
the mental power of
the operator to make
appropriate gear ratio
selections. Thus the
manual transmission
requires very little
engine power to
function, with the
main power
consumption due to
drag from the gear
train being immersed
in the lubricating oil of
the gearbox.
The on-road
acceleration of an
transmission can
occasionally exceed
that of an otherwise
identical vehicle
equipped with a
manual transmission
in turbocharged
diesel applications.
Turbo-boost is
normally lost between
gear changes in a
manual whereas in an
automatic the
accelerator pedal can
remain fully
depressed. This
however is still largely
dependent upon the
number and optimal
spacing of gear ratios
for each unit, and
whether or not the
elimination of
r lift off represent a
significant enough
gain to counter the
slightly higher power
consumption of the
transmission itself.

Some of the best
known automatic
transmission families

Dynaflow, Power
glide, Turboglide,
TH350, TH400
700R4, 4L60-
E, 4L80-E,
Holden Trimatic
Ford: Cruise-O-
Matic, C4, CD4E,
Cummins 68 RFE
(fitted to
the Ram diesel
Chrysler: Torque
Flite 727 and
904, A500, A518,
45RFE, 545RFE
BorgWarner (later
Aisin AW)
Voith Voith Turbo
Aisin AW; Aisin
AW is a
automotive parts
supplier, known
for its automatic
and navigation
Group 01M
International (DSI
) M93, M97
and M74 4-
speeds, M78 and
M79 6-speeds
Hyundai Hyundai
4F12, 4F16, 4F23
4-Speeds, 5F25,
5F16, 5F23 5-
Speeds, 6F17,
6F26, 6F40 6-
Speeds, 8R40,
8R50 8-Speeds,
Mini Cooper
Automatic or
transmission, all
transmission families
are usually based
on Ravigneaux, Lepel
or Simpson planetary
gearsets. Each uses
some arrangement of
one or two central
sun gears, and a ring
gear, with differing
arrangements of
planet gears that
surround the sun and
mesh with the ring.
An exception to this is
the Hondamatic line
from Honda, which
uses sliding gears on
parallel axes like a
manual transmission
without any planetary
gearsets. Although
the Honda is quite
different from all other
automatics, it is also
quite different from
an automated manual
transmission (AMT).
Many of the above
AMTs exist in
modified states,
which were created
by racing enthusiasts
and their mechanics
by systematically re-
engineering the
transmission to
achieve higher levels
of performance.
These are known as
Example of
manufacturers of high
are General
Motors and Ford.

How Automatic
Transmissions Work

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Image Gallery: Transmissions
The 6L50 transmission is a Hydra-Matic six-speed rear and all-wheel drive automatic
transmission produced by GM. See more transmission pictures.
If you have ever driven a car with an automatic transmission, then you
know that there are two big differences between an automatic transmission
and a manual transmission:

There is no clutch pedal in an automatic transmission car.

There is no gear shift in an automatic transmission car. Once you put the
transmission into drive, everything else is automatic.

Next Up
Transmission Quiz
How Manual Transmissions Work
How Torque Converters Work

Both the automatic transmission (plus its torque converter) and a manual
transmission (with its clutch) accomplish exactly the same thing, but they
do it in totally different ways. It turns out that the way an automatic
transmission does it is absolutely amazing!
In this article, we'll work our way through an automatic transmission. We'll
start with the key to the whole system: planetary gearsets. Then we'll see
how the transmission is put together, learn how the controls work and
discuss some of the intricacies involved in controlling a transmission.

How long do transmissions


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Transmission Maintenance
Maintenance schedules offered by car manufacturers always include the
transmission. As stated earlier, transmission fluid plays a critical role in how
a transmission functions and the car part longevity. Like engine oil,
transmission fluid should be checked and changed on a regular basis;
however, the interval is different for all vehicles and dependent on the
transmission and fluid type as well as use.
Most experts feel severe use warrants a recommended 15,000-mile
(24,140-kilometer) fluid and filter change interval. Severe use is defined as
more than 50 percent use in heavy city traffic with ambient temperatures
above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) Remember the
correlation between heat and lifespan? Experts also recommend changing
the fluid whenever there is an indication of oxidization or contamination.
Some transmissions, including a few models used by General Motors
(GM), use an aluminum valve body. This soft metal is less tolerant of dirt
and abrasives and GM recommends more frequent fluid changes to
prolong the life of this auto part.

For your car to be able to get from point A to point B without having to stay trudging along in first gear,
it needs a working transmission. The transmission allows the vehicle to change gears, thereby
transferring power from the engine to the drive axle in the most efficient way possible. It does this by
varying the gear ratio. In lower gears, this increases available power while reducing speed. Higher gears,
on the other hand, reduce power and increase speed. This enables cars to distribute power and speed in
the most efficient way for any given situation. But whilst everyone agrees that a transmission is
absolutely vital to the inner workings of any car, there is no general consensus regarding what kind of
transmission is betterautomatic or manual. Its not an easy question to answer. After all, both
transmissions have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, and where one may be perfect in
one situation, it may end up being absolute rubbish in another situation. So, before you make any
decisions regarding where you stand on the transmission debate, take a few moments and familiarise
yourself with the benefits associated with the two different kinds of transmission. Automatic
Transmissions Automatic transmissions have been eclipsing their older manual cousins for the past few
years. Yet, despite their apparent popularity, automatic transmissions are not necessarily a better choice
for many drivers. However, they do offer advantages over manual transmissions in several key areas. For
example, they are Easier to use. Although theres nothing inherently difficult about shifting gears and
working a clutch, it still takes a bit of practice before most drivers are comfortable learning to use each
of their limbs independently in order to control a manual transmission vehicle. Automatic transmissions,
by comparison, are much simpler and take drivers significantly less time to learn. Less manually
restrictive. Most new drivers are taught that the safest way to drive is to keep both hands firmly on the
wheel at all times. This is possible when driving an automatic transmission vehicle, but is not possible
with a manual transmission. Better for hilly areas. If youre a less experienced driver, you may find that
navigating steep inclines in a manual transmission is difficult, especially if youre attempting to do so
from a dead stop. Automatic transmissions take care of this issue, enabling your car to operate
efficiently no matter how steep the hill might be. Greatly reduced risk of stalling. There are few things
more embarrassing and awkward than accidentally stalling your vehicle right when the traffic light
changes. This isnt a common problem for those driving automatic transmission, where stalling will only
occur if theres a mechanical problem in the vehicle. Easier to use in heavy traffic. Overall, more work
goes into starting, accelerating, decelerating, and stopping manual transmissions. This isnt normally a
problem, but in heavy traffic where a car isnt able to get up to speed, drivers may notice that the
constant starting and stopping becomes a difficult chore. Automatic transmissions allow the driver to
move through heavy traffic without having to do more than push a single pedal. Manual Transmissions
For those drivers who prefer to be more involved in the inner workings of their vehicle, the manual
transmission delegates the shifting of engine gears back to the pilot. Manual transmissions predate the
newer automatic models, yet they are still favoured by many drivers due to the fact that theyre Less
expensive to purchase. If youre car shopping on a budget, then theres really no contest between the
manual and the automatic. On average, a manual transmission will cost you about a thousand dollars
less than an automatic of the same model. Cheaper to maintain. With all of the added machinery that
goes into the automatic transmission, it can end up costing you big bikkies just to keep it running
properly. Manual transmission cars require very little maintenance, and generally maintenance and
repairs end up being significantly less costly. Be warned, however, because one thing that a manual has
that the automatic doesnt have to worry about is the clutch, and if that thing quits on you, then you
could be in trouble. Better fuel efficiency. Overall, manual transmission engines are less complex, weigh
less, and have more gears than automatics. The end result is that youll end up getting more kilometres
out of the petrol you pump in than you would with an automatic. Manual transmissions have been
known to save drivers between 5% and 15% on their fuel costs. Less likely to be stolen. With the
increasing number of automatic transmissions finding their way onto roads, theres an entire generation
that has never learned the finer points of manual transmission operation. This means that should a car-
thief decide to give your car a closer inspection in preparation for stealing it, theres a fairly good chance
that simply having a manual transmission will be enough to deter the criminal. Better control. Automatic
transmissions are designed to choose the best gear for any situation, but they tend to err on the side of
caution, shifting to too high of a gear and wasting engine power. At the same time, they are built to
respond to conditions as they are encountered, which doesnt allow for drivers to either anticipate an
oncoming condition, or to purposely select a lower gear for an added boost of power. Manual
transmissions give drivers greater control over the vehicle. Basically, automatic transmissions are easier
to use and more comfortable for the driver, while manual transmission vehicles are less expensive and
more involved. Of course, there are exceptions to any rule and the only way to be sure which one is
right for you is to go for a test drive. After all, you may need to get from point A to point B, but its
completely up to you how you make the journey!

Servicing a manual transmission

by Christensen Automotive | Nov 10, 2015 | Maintenance, Manual Transmission, Transmission | 0
The manual transmission system is pretty simple in comparison to its automatic cousin. Their gears
are located along parallel shafts inside the transmission housing. Power flows when gears are
meshed. During gear changes, or when the car is stationary and the engine is idling, a clutch is used
to interrupt the flow of power from the engine to the transmission. However, if you are experiencing
issues the symptoms are similar to the automatic, and include: slipping, hesitation, bucking, grinding
gears and difficulty shifting. Unlike the automatic however, where you actually have to flush the fluids
with a machine for preventative maintenance. The manual requires a simple, in comparison, drain
and fill of the transmission fluid.
Most manufacturers recommend that manual transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 to 60,000
miles. Under heavy-duty use, such as towing or stop-and-go traffic, some manufacturers suggest
changing transmission fluid every 15,000 miles. This is because the transmission fluid provides
lubrication to gears, bearings, shafts, and other internal components. Heat, pressure and friction can
slowly breakdown the additives in the manual transmission fluid and contamination occurs over time
as the synchronizers, bearings and gears in the transmission wear out. The resulting metal particles
then float around in the lubricant. And we all know that oil with microscopic particles of metal in it
does not lubricate as well as clean oil. So if these contaminants are not drained out, they will shorten
the life of your transmission.
Checking the transmission fluid in a manual transmission can be difficult. A few thoughtful
manufacturers have included a dipstick, but thats the exception rather than the rule. If you own a car
with a manual transmission, we suggest that you ask your mechanic to check the fluid level when
your car is up on the lift during an oil change. It takes just a minute.
Manual transmissions use a variety of oils and are often referred to as gear oil: regular motor oil,
heavyweight hypoid gear oil or even automatic transmission fluid in some cases. Your owners
manual will tell you what your transmission calls for. However, the only time you should have to add
oil to a manual transmission or transaxle is if the transmission is leaking oil. If you see any grease or
wetness around the tail-shaft or driveshaft seals, the oil level in the transmission or transaxle should
be checked because it may be low. WARNING: Allowing the transmission or transaxle to run too low
on lubricant can ruin it.
Some simple tips to help improve the life span of your transmission include:
Drain and refill transmission fluid on a regular basis, especially if you do a lot of towing.
Avoid riding the clutch a simple rule of thumb is your foot should be all the way down or all the way
Avoid jack-rabbit starts.

Automatic Transmission Servicing

Keeping your automatic transmission shifting smoothly
The automatic transmission is one of the hardest working and most sophisticated parts of your car. The
engine works most efficiently at a relatively narrow range of engine RPM, and only uses energy
effectively at the middle of that range.
The transmission has to convert the engine output to speeds and torque so it becomes practical for
driving. In the case of an auto trans, it has to make the adjustments automatically, using a complex
system of mechanics and hydraulics.
Doing this places tremendous stresses on the auto transmission force, pressure, heat and friction. This
can cause tiny metal particles to come off the gears and other components, contaminating the
transmission fluid. The more of these abrasive bits there are, the worse the fluid performs, causing
greater wear.
Its a vicious cycle you should break regularly to preserve your automatic transmission and its
performance or be prepared for major costs.
Thats why you need to service your auto transmission regularly at least every 15 months or 25,000km
and more frequently if you use your vehicle for towing or in environments that cause a lot of stopping and
starting. Some models may also require more regular transmission servicing. Your transmission specialist
can advise you on this.
What the service includes:
Drain transmission fluid
Remove and clean the oil pan
Inspect the fluid condition, evidence of metal or clutch lining material in pan and any evidence of
Full transmission flush if needed*
Remove, clean and replace the filter
Check and adjust the bands and controls
Refit the pan, using a new gasket
Fill the transmission to the recommended level with new transmission fluid of the correct type
Check for leaks and wear on seals and hoses
Test to check working of serviced auto trans.
* A transmission flush is usually performed when there are signs of high wear or badly contaminated
transmission fluid. Just draining the fluid does not remove all the old fluid from tight spaces and the
residue will make any new fluid dirty almost immediately. To remove all remains of the old fluid, the
cooling pipe between the transmission and the radiator is usually uncoupled and the transmission filled
while the engine is running. This forces the fluid through the transmission, flushing out the dirty remains.
The best way to make sure your automatic transmission service is done properly is to entrust it to experts
with the necessary skills and equipment.
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
CVT is a special transmission type that features gradual changes in gear ratios, rather than specific steps
like ordinary gearboxes. An increasing number of modern cars use gearboxes of this type. They require
specialist knowledge, so well advised to make sure you take your vehicle to transmission experts if you
know or suspect your vehicle may have CVT or a similar system.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Exchange:

Transmission gears deliver power from the engine to the drive wheels, shifting automatically to
provide the best power and efficiency for your driving speed. A special transmission fluid cools and
lubricates the gears. Over time, this fluid degrades, and its lubricant qualities diminish. Changing the
fluid at the correct intervals can help prevent premature wear and damage to the transmission.

This service includes;

Removal of the old transmission fluid and replacing it with new, clean fluid of the grade
recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.

Automatic Transmission Drain and Fill:

Automatic transmission fluid lubricates, cools and cleans internal components of the transmission. It
also helps to maintain the hydraulic pressure necessary for the transmission to function. The
additives in the transmission fluid can be depleted over time.

This service includes;

removing the transmission fill/drain plug to remove the old automatic transmission fluid

reinstalling transmission fill/drain plug

refilling the transmission with new automatic transmission fluid to the proper level

Automatic Transmission Filter Replacement:

The automatic transmission filter helps remove dirt and contaminants from the automatic
transmission fluid.

This service includes;

removing the transmission pan

removing the old transmission filter and replacing it with a new transmission filter

removing the old gasket material

replacing the pan gasket with a new gasket and reinstalling the pan

refilling the transmission with new automatic transmission fluid to the proper level

Automatic Transmission Fluid Exchange & Filter Replacement:

Automatic transmission fluid lubricates, cools and cleans internal components of the transmission. It
also helps to maintain the hydraulic pressure necessary for the transmission to function. The
additives in the transmission fluid can be depleted over time.

This service includes;

changing the fluid in the transmission system, including the torque converter and transmission

removing the transmission pan

removing the old transmission filter and replacing it with a new transmission filter

removing the old gasket material

replacing the pan gasket with a new gasket and reinstalling the pan

refilling the transmission with new automatic transmission fluid to the proper level

Manual Transmission Service:

Manual transmission fluid provides lubrication to gears, bearings, shafts, and other internal
components. Heat, pressure and friction can slowly breakdown the additives in the manual
transmission fluid. In addition, small particles of metal may come off the gears as they wear and
these metal particles can mix with the fluid. Fluids can also become contaminated with water.

This service includes;

draining or evacuating the old manual transmission fluid

filling the manual transmission fluid with the manufacturer's recommended type and quantity of
new fluid

The net result of all these services is to provide better lubrication, improve the holding ability of the
friction components, and reduce heat. This means your transmission works better, longer. Therefor
you are less likely to face a major transmission repair.
Mister Transmission offers all of these services, and will be happy to explain the details to you.

A complete transmission service should include:

removing and examining the sump or pan (where possible)

replacing or cleaning the screen or filter

cleaning the pan

reinstalling the pan with a new pan gasket