How Automatic Transmissions Work

Your vehicle’s automatic transmission is a remarkable piece of machinery. It may be complex to understand how it functions, but a little knowledge can go a long way toward preventing a breakdown

The most complex and intricate system in your car is its automatic transmission – understanding how it works can help save you time, hassle, and money. Comprised of a series of mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical components, they are all controlled by your car’s engine control unit, aka the powertrain control module.

A short drive to a nearby store means your transmission will likely shift about 25 to 30 times. Now imagine how many trips like that you make in a year and the impact they have on your transmission.

Shift Your Thinking about Your Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmission gear changes are monitored and executed by your vehicle’s internal computer. A torque converter uses the pressure and flow of transmission fluid to not only regulate the gear changes but also to allow the engine to continue running even when at a full stop. It also makes for a smoother shifting between gears.

When fluid levels in the transmission drop, so does the pressure that controls the shifting of gears. That can cause friction and less effective cooling, in turn leading to damage and potentially expensive repairs.

Recognizing Automatic Transmission Warning Signs

Preventing a breakdown from stranding you at the roadside requires insight into the warning signs your car will send if you’re on the cusp of experiencing a transmission-related problem. These warning signs include:

  • Grinding, rattling, or whining noises when changing gears or problems shifting gears
  • A delay in movement or your car jerks or shakes as it accelerates
  • Your transmission fluid is low, or you notice it pooling beneath the engine where you park
  • If you check your transmission fluid and see it’s not a reddish colour
  • You smell a burning odour while or after you drive

If you suspect your vehicle’s automatic transmission isn’t performing properly, or if you have questions about preventative transmission maintenance, contact us. Take advantage of our free 21-point multi-check inspection and avoid the cost and aggravation associated with a failing transmission.

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