Cars don’t just drive themselves. Of course, there is the human factor involved, but other than that, there are hundreds of components working together inside a vehicle to produce motion. The engine is the first car part that comes to mind when you think about your vehicle, and while it is the most important, the engine would have its work cut out for itself if it wasn’t for the transmission helping out.

What is the transmission?

The gearbox in a vehicle is attached to the engine, and its job is to transfer the power created by the engine and take it to the wheels to push the car into motion. The transmission also controls the engine, in a way, by limiting it to a certain RPM range. All of this sounds simple, but it isn’t. There are several transmission components involved that have to perform efficiently for the transfer of power to happen. The components vary depending on the type of transmission (we’ll get back to that later) you have, but in general, a transmission will have: 

Planetary Gear Set

This is a vital component in an automatic transmission, but you won’t find them in a manual. In the case of manual transmissions, gears slide along shafts. The gear changes as you toggle with the gear lever, and once the gear has engaged, you can only shift to the other by using the clutch to disengage. Automatic transmissions are much more practical. The planetary set involves one big gear called the ‘sun gear’ with smaller gears placed on the side as ‘planets.’ The gears work in tandem to restrict the RPM and provide the correct gear ratio at the right time. 

Hydraulic System 

The hydraulic system inside a transmission keeps everything in check. It ensures that the gears are shifting effortlessly, the entire transmission is lubricated, and the inside temperature is controlled. If this system loses its integrity, then the gearbox won’t work at all. Have you ever heard racecar drivers saying, “I have lost the hydraulics.”? Well, they are referring to this same system without which a car can barely move. 

Torque Converter 

The torque converter can be found in an automatic transmission, and it performs the same duties as that of a clutch in a manual transmission. The torque converter keeps the engine running when the car is stationary, and it also helps regulate the engine speed when the vehicle is running. 

The Clutch 

The clutch is an essential component of a manual transmission. It allows you to shift from one gear to another by engaging and disengaging two shafts from each other. However, its most necessary function is to avoid the engine from shutting down by managing the slippage between a spinning engine and a non-spinning transmission. Since the manual gears are in shafts, the clutch connects a moving shaft with a non-moving shaft in a safe manner. Different types of clutches perform this operation in their unique way, like the dual-clutch. 


The flywheel is also part of a manual transmission, and it works by regulating and storing the engine’s rotational energy and sending it out into the driving shaft for the car to move. In other words, the flywheel controls most of the engine’s torque delivery. 

Pressure Plate 

The Pressure plate is attached to the flywheel as this component helps to create a relationship between the clutch and the flywheel. The clutch will be unable to perform its job if the pressure plate has malfunctioned, so its importance is paramount. 

Manual Transmission 

The manual transmission is the first kind of gearbox to make its way into the automobile world. It has been in use since the first car was built, and they are still in use now, albeit in a limited capacity. With manual transmissions, the person driving the vehicle has complete control over the gearing ratios. In other words, you get to choose which gear you want to engage. If you like, you can switch between the first and fifth gear or vice versa; something that is impossible to do in an automatic transmission. As such, manual transmissions provide greater freedom to drivers who can exploit the various benefits of engaging smaller and bigger gears. The big advantage is that you can control the torque and horsepower amount going through to the wheels. Such an ability is beneficial in race situations or when you are ascending & descending a hill. 

Automatic Transmissions 

Automatic transmission existed a long time ago, but they were never popular. The drivers preferred having more control of their vehicle when they drive. However, times have changed, there is a lot of traffic on the roads now, and the industry’s trend has shifted towards comfort and luxury, allowing automatic transmissions to earn popularity. 

The good thing about automatic transmissions is that you, as a driver, do not have to worry about changing gears. The transmission decides which gear to engage based on your car’s RPM and speed. If you want to drive fast, you press the pedal harder, and if you need to be more economical, then a light touch of the foot is sufficient. Automatic transmissions have thus made it very easy to drive a car. Sadly, manual-powered vehicles are losing their appeal, and it won’t be long before they are limited to museums and racing. 

Transmission Repair and Upkeep 

There are various ways to tell if your car’s transmission has malfunctioned. In most cases, the vehicle gets stuck in one gear, and it’s unable to shift to another. In manual transmissions, this is usually related to a failing clutch or pressure plate. In an automatic gearbox, however, the failure could be in the hydraulic system. 

You must keep a close eye on the transmission fluid and avoid pressing down on the clutch when it is not needed. Following these simple instructions can help increase your transmission’s life. However, if you hear a grinding noise, gears getting stuck, or a loss in power, give the Autopractor Auto Repair experts a call or schedule an appointment.

Final Thoughts 

The gearbox is a complex vehicle part that is usually overlooked when it comes to maintenance. The good thing is, you do not need to look after it too much unless you are deliberately causing harm to it. Therefore, avoid depressing the clutch pedal unless necessary, do not put your car in reverse while it’s moving forward, and don’t put it in ‘parking’ if your vehicle is still moving (for automatic transmissions). If you follow all that advice, you will never face a transmission issue in your vehicle. 

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