Today’s modern automobile transmission is the most complex component of the drive-train. The job of the transmission is to dynamically change the speed-to-torque ratio through a series of gears to power the drive wheels of a vehicle as efficiently as possible depending on how fast the vehicle is going.
The rate at which an engine turns, or rotates, is far too high to be used starting motion or for low speeds. A transmission decreases the speed of rotation provided by the engine and increases the power going to the wheels, or the torque, through the use of gear ratios.
Modern cars and trucks generally have a five or six-speed transmission which means they have a number of different gear ratios allowing them to travel at the broad range of speeds necessary to fully and efficiently utilize the output power of the engine.
There are 3 main types of automatic transmissions:
Automatic transmissions: Depending on the driving conditions, automatic transmissions automatically select the correct gear ratio. Usually, most drivers just have to put their vehicle in drive and their automatic transmission takes over unless they are negotiating extremely sharp road grades or they are towing a heavy load. Automatic transmission used to be less fuel efficient than manual transmissions until recent technological advances.
Manual transmissions: Manual, or standard, transmissions are becoming less and less common in today’s modern vehicles. They require the driver to constantly select and switch gears. Standard transmission gear shifting requires the use of a clutch pedal. The big downside of having a manual transmission is that the driver has to continually tend to it, even though they generally provide much better fuel efficiency.
Continuously variable transmissions (CVT): CVT transmissions are usually found in smaller vehicles and have some unique advantages. They generally feel and perform much the same as traditional automatic transmissions, even though they utilize different technology. They also provide much-improved efficiency in terms of fuel consumption.
It is essential that one is able to identify and troubleshoot their transmission when trouble becomes apparent. It is very easy to waste time and money guessing what a problem might be. In order to get your transmission repaired as fast and inexpensively as possible it is important to determine the real cause of its trouble. Fortunately, there are some basic troubleshooting steps to determine your automatic transmissions problem.
You should follow this procedure in order to troubleshoot an automatic transmission problem correctly and as inexpensively as possible. Even if the nature of the problem is too big an issue to repair by yourself, knowing the real issue can save you big at the transmission shop as well.
Because you know how your car runs better than anyone, you may be able to determine the cause of your trouble easier than someone else can. You can shift through the gears for signs of a slipping or grinding, and you can look for leaks underneath your car.
Low transmission fluid levels and old dirty fluid are the main culprits causing transmission problems so that will be the next thing to look at. Be sure and check not only the fluid level but also check the color and condition of the fluid. If you need to add fluid you will want to make sure you use the proper recommended fluid for your vehicle. If your fluid is dark colored you will need to have it and the filter changed as soon as possible.
If your fluid levels and its condition are both good, then you will want to check for any OBD codes in your car’s computer.
If there aren’t any codes and you are unable to find the cause of the trouble, you will want to consult the appropriate manual for your vehicle and also search online for a solution. Many vehicles have dedicated forums where you can often find others that have had the same issue and they can lead you to a solution. Also, a repair manual specific to your vehicle will usually go far more in depth. Besides forums, there are auto repair websites where real automotive technicians will help diagnose your vehicle for a fee, as well as other sites that will offer free information that could help.
Finally, if you have exhausted all the steps above and you haven’t come up with a solution, you’ll want to have a trained and certified transmission specialist check out your vehicle. Unfortunately, there are some internal part failures that only a trained specialist is going to be able to diagnose and repair. If you are this far into the process, this last step will ultimately save you a lot of time and grief trying to go it alone.