What Does a Transmission Do?

auto mechanic working on a transmission
Auto mechanic working in garage Technician Hands of car mechanic working in auto repair Service and Maintenance car check.

Most motorists generally know a transmission is an essential component of a motor vehicle. However, some may only have a vague understanding of how a transmission works and what it does.

Not thoroughly understanding the function of a transmission isn’t a problem for the average driver. If you’re not a professional offering transmission services, you might not have much practical use for this type of knowledge on a regular basis.

However, understanding what your transmission does may help you better appreciate the importance of proper maintenance. It may also help you identify transmission problems earlier than you otherwise would.

What Does a Transmission Do in a Car or Other Motor Vehicle?

The best way to understand the function of a transmission in a motor vehicle is to think of the process of changing gears on a bike. Depending on factors such as how fast you want to travel, whether you’re traveling uphill, and similar factors, you may need to change gears while riding a bicycle. Changing gears adjusts how much effort you must exert to propel yourself.

A motor vehicle is very similar. Depending on your speed and other factors of your driving conditions, your vehicle may also need to switch gears. The transmission facilitates this process. The transmission is responsible for sending energy from the engine to the components of the vehicle that rotate, ensuring they’re in the right gear.

The Difference Between an Automatic Transmission and Manual Transmission

A manual transmission requires a clutch and allows a driver to switch gears themselves when necessary. As the name implies, an automatic transmission switches gears automatically according to driving conditions.

Neither one is universally or objectively better than the other. Both offer pros and cons. The right type of transmission for one driver may not be ideal for another.

Some prefer an automatic transmission because of the convenience it offers. It’s also worth noting that manual transmissions are fairly uncommon in some parts of the world. Someone may prefer an automatic transmission simply because they never learned how to drive with a stick shift and therefore aren’t comfortable doing so.

On the other hand, a manual transmission offers a driver greater control over which gear they’re in when driving. An automatic transmission works by interpreting various pieces of information about current driving conditions and selecting a gear accordingly. However, sometimes the gear it selects is not the best one for the situation. A driver may prefer a manual transmission so that they can always decide which gear is best for their driving conditions.

Signs a Transmission is Failing

There are many potential signs of a transmission problem. The following are among the more common:

  • A vehicle shifts gears late or won’t stay in gear
  • The transmission won’t engage
  • A transmission changes gears unexpectedly while driving
  • The transmission makes new noises, particularly grinding sounds
  • Your vehicle is leaking transmission fluid
  • Your car emits burning smells

Don’t ignore any of these issues. The sooner you address a transmission problem, the sooner you can prevent minor issues from becoming more significant.

A transmission repair expert can also offer you tips on how to keep a transmission in good condition. By knowing what your transmission does and following professional advice, you may be more likely to optimize its performance.

Circle D Transmission offers transmission services, parts, and rebuilds in Houston, Texas.