What does the transmission do on your car?
The transmission has a very important job – it ensures there is enough power moving to the wheels to drive at the speeds you desire. The transmission is your car’s gear shifter, moving energy as you navigate your daily drive.
The best way to understand it is to think about your ten-speed bicycle. When you power up, add speed, or start climbing a hill, you shift to different gears. The chain moves from gear to gear, giving you the power to accomplish every need and desire.
The same applies to your vehicle. Different gear ratios allow you to do different things while driving your car. Want to go faster? Want to climb into the Rocky Mountains? Want to slow down for the changing stoplight? The gear ratios help control speed and RPMs for a smoother ride.
A manual transmission
There are two kinds of transmission systems: manual and automatic. With a manual transmission, you take charge of the gear changing process. Using a third foot pedal, the clutch pedal, you manually disengage the transmission from the flywheel and change gears. It works similarly to the bicycle chain process, without the chain. It temporarily disconnects the engine and the transmission, adjusts by moving the gear shift, and reengaging into the new gear you desire. Release the clutch pedal and drive.
An automatic transmission
An automatic transmission automates the gear shifting process. Instead of having to push in a clutch pedal and manually moving the gear shift to the appropriate gear, the automatic transmission does everything for you through a combination of fluid pressure and electronics. You put the car in drive and go; the automatic transmission ensures you are in the right gear.
Next to the engine, your transmission is one of the most complicated systems within your vehicle. Keeping it in good working condition is a must. Even one small problem can wreak havoc on your vehicle and turn into a very expensive repair.
How do you know if you blow a transmission?
Like all the major systems used to create your vehicle, your transmission will give you clues it’s not operating the way it should. The sooner you act, the greater the chance of lower repair bills.
Are there ways you can tell if you have a blown transmission?
The dashboard lights up with a transmission error – today’s vehicles are sensitive enough to notice basic problems. Don’t ignore warning lights as they may cost you a lot more when you finally drive it into the shop.
Your car won’t move in drive or reverse – you might have trouble moving the gear shift at all, it simply won’t move into drive or reverse. In some cases, you have the ability to move the gear shift, but your car won’t operate. No matter what you do, it just sits there.
You’ll notice vibrations or sounds as you’re driving – pay attention to what you feel and hear. You might notice strange vibrations while you drive, or hear a grinding or whining noise especially while your car is attempting to change gears.
The gears can slip – it creates a definite clunking noise. When you try and speed up, your car won’t accelerate because it can’t shift into the right gear. There might be a hesitation as it tries to react. You might even notice a sudden surge as it clicks and connects with the new gear. As you can imagine, both of these are of concern for safe driving; you should bring your car in for an inspection as quickly as you can.
Extreme heat – if you drive a rear wheel drive car, the transmission transfers energy from front to back to give the rear wheels their necessary power. If the transmission starts to overheat, you’ll feel it in the passenger compartment. It might impact the temperature gauge on your dashboard as well. Because the transmission fluid continues to heat up, you might notice a burning odor, some say it resembles burnt toast. If your transmission is overheating, it still might be a simple repair. The key is getting it into a mechanic to be checked immediately.
Some cars have poor design – not every make or model is built the same. If you do a search on Google, you’ll often find one make or model that stands out from the rest. Maybe they decided to use cheaper parts, or they simply didn’t pay attention to quality assurance during a certain production cycle. Whatever the case, if you chose to buy during that year, you’ll pay the price by having to repair or replace more frequently.
Poor maintenance – it doesn’t matter how poorly or how well a make or model is built if you don’t take care of it from the moment you drive it home. Your car needs regular maintenance to ensure it stays in good working condition. That means adding fluids when it’s necessary. It means having a mechanic check out how well your car is operating and making the necessary changes as needed. It means upgrading parts for normal wear and tear – from oil changes to adding new belts.
What about transmission fluid?
While your transmission fluid doesn’t need to be changed out regularly like motor oil, it is important to pay attention to it. Start by checking your owner’s manual; how often does it say it should be changed? Some manufacturers may suggest every 30,000 miles or so while others push it back to 100,000 miles or more. In most cases, you’ll need to follow guidelines to ensure your warranty remains valid.
You can check to ensure you have enough transmission fluid and that it’s still in good condition. It’s similar to checking your motor oil, but each vehicle has its own recommendations for how to check it. How you drive determines frequency too. Someone who drives up and down the mountain each day will have different needs than someone who drives urban conditions just a few miles.
Are there different kinds of transmission fluid?
Each make and model has its own requirements; it’s important to check your owner’s manual for guidance and to ensure best performance. Don’t forget that the wrong fluid can void your warranty.
If you have any questions about how your vehicle operates, or if you think you might have a blown transmission, give us a call today.