3 Types of Transmissions Explained

Author // NPR Car Talk
Posted in // 4x4 transmissions, Refurbished transmissions, Used auto transmissions

Automatic transmission services

One of the most important parts of your car is the transmission. This is what allows the power produced by the engine to be moved along the drive train — thereby making your car move. There are three basic kinds of transmissions you’re likely to come across if you’re looking at a variety of cars:

  1. Standard Transmissions

    Manual transmissions used to be known as “standard” transmissions, but they now make up only a tenth of the transmissions on the market. In a car with a manual transmission, you put the car into gear and change gears as you accelerate, using the gear shift and the clutch. Essentially the purpose of a transmission is to change the gear ratio between the engine and the wheels. That may sound complicated, but what it means is that without a transmission, your car would only be able to drive at one speed. A manual transmission uses several sets of gears, with you switching between them based on what speed you’re trying to drive at.

  2. Automatic Transmissions

    Automatic transmissions do the work of shifting for you. As soon as you put the car into drive (or reverse), the automatic transmission takes over and you only need to control the pedals and steering wheel. But they also differ significantly from manual transmissions in that an automatic uses only one set of gears — called a planetary gear system or gearset — to produce a range of gear ratios.

  3. 4×4 Transmissions

    You’ve probably heard the terms “four-wheel drive” and “all-wheel drive.” These both mean that the transmission delivers power to all four wheels (in four-wheel drive cars, the function can usually be turned on and off based on road conditions, whereas in all-wheel drive cars, the function is usually constant). All automakers structure their 4×4 transmissions slightly differently, so you’d want to do research on an individual make and model if you’re considering one of these options.

Which of these transmissions would you choose? Since transmission repair services can be so expensive, would you consider buying used or remanufactured transmissions? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments!

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