The drivetrain is an integral component of your vehicle and it is related to your transmission. You don’t need to know the inner workings of your vehicle to be able to drive it responsibly. But the more you know about your vehicle, the better care you will be able to take of it. The more you know about how your vehicle works, the better able you will be to assess and notice symptoms of problems. And the more you know about your vehicle, the better able you will be to make informed decisions when it comes to the maintenance and repair of your vehicle. With all that in mind, this article will look to impart some information relating to the drivetrain.
The drivetrain of a vehicle is not merely just one solitary component. A drivetrain is actually a group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels, whether that’s in a front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive vehicle. With the exception of that last example, many vehicles only have one set of wheels that actually power locomotion. The other pair merely coasts. But regardless of which type of wheel-drive you have in your vehicle, it’s your drivetrain that delivers power to the driving wheels. The power is generated by the engine, typically an internal combustion engine, but drivetrains are also present in hybrid and electric vehicles as well. The drivetrain just delivers the power, so the engine is not part of it. The term “powertrain” can be used to encompass both the engine (or motor) and the drivetrain.
The Function Of The Drivetrain
The drivetrain transfers power from the engine to the driving wheels. The wheels then use that mechanical power to rotate the axle. For this connection to work, the two have to be physically linked, even if they are at opposite ends of the vehicle. In such cases a long propeller shaft or drive shaft is needed. The operating speed of the engine and wheels are also different. To solve this problem you need the correct gear ratio to match the speeds. As the speed of your automobile changes, the ideal engine speed has to remain more or less constant for efficient operation. To facilitate this, the gearbox ratio must also be changed, either manually, as in a manual transmission, or automatically as in an automatic transmission or a CVT transmission.
The Drivetrain And The Transmission
Although they must work in concert, the drivetrain and the transmission are actually quite different. Think of the transmission as being akin to the chain on a bicycle: it keeps the engine turning in time with the wheels, regardless of which gear the vehicle is in. The drivetrain represents everything that is behind the transmission involved in propelling the vehicle. The drivetrain must convey power from the vehicle’s engine, through the transmission to the drive wheels.
If you have any questions about drivetrains, Mister Transmission would be happy to answer them. If you suspect that you’re experiencing a problem with your drivetrain and would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.
One of the selling points of the automatic transmission is that it is easier to drive. For the driver, an automatic transmission is simpler to handle than a manual transmission. In order to facilitate this ease of use, there is more work to be done internally within the transmission, in as certain processes are automated (hence the term “automatic”). But does this mean it’s harder to repair an automatic transmission as opposed to a manual transmission? Are automatic transmission repairs complicated?
The Automatic Transmission
Automatic transmissions automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle is in motion. This frees up the driver from having to shift gears manually, as one would when operating a manual transmission. The transmission allows the engine to provide a range of speed and torque outputs necessary for vehicular travel. By far the most common type of automatic transmission is the hydraulic automatic transmission. Hydraulic automatic transmissions utilize fluid coupling and accomplish gear changes by hydraulically locking and unlocking a series of planetary gears. Manual transmissions use a friction clutch.
History Of The Automatic Transmission
Did you know that the automatic transmission was actually invented by a Canadian? It’s true. Alfred Munro first patented an automatic transmission way back in 1921. However, Munro’s design used compressed air and was not strong enough to ever achieve commercial application. It was not until 1940 when General Motors introduced its “Hydra-Matic” transmission in its Oldsmobile that automatic transmissions first became widely available to the public.
Signs Your Automatic Transmission Needs Repair
Your automatic transmission might require a repair if you notice it doing any of the following:
Changing gears at high RPMS
Slipping, grinding, or jumping when you’re accelerating and shifting gears
Your “Check Engine” light is on (seriously, don’t ignore this)
Automatic Transmission Repair
So now we know the basics of the automatic transmission, a little automatic transmission history, and some of the key signs that an automatic transmission is in need of repair, but what should we know about transmission repair? Are transmission repairs complicated? The answer is . . . it depends. Automatic transmission repairs are generally more complicated than manual transmission repairs; it all depends on what and where the problem is.
There is one important factor to this, though. Newer automatic transmission often requires a repair process that is quite complicated given that it needs specialized technology. Specifically, a computer. Most new automatic transmissions are heavily computerized such that a technician’s first step when repairing an automatic transmission is to use diagnostic technology to interface with a vehicle’s on-board computer. This process produces a code that indicates where the problem is. As part of any automatic transmission repair, the vehicle will then be taken for a road test so that the technician can monitor its behavior. After this, the required automatic transmission repair is often minor; it’s the diagnostic process that is key.
Get In Touch
If you suspect your automatic transmission is in need of repair, please don’t hesitate to get it checked out. Please contact us at Mister Transmission and we can have a look at it and give you advice on how best to care for your automatic transmission going forward.
Superman vs. Batman. Michael Jackson vs. Prince. Manual vs. automatic. The three greatest either-or choices of all time. (OK, perhaps we’re overstating things a little.) But the debate about manual vs automatic transmissions and which one has the advantage has gone on –in some cases, raged on– for decades with people taking strong stances on both sides. But really, what’s the difference? Is there a way to definitively say that manual transmissions have the advantage over automatic transmissions or vice versa?
Vehicles with a manual transmission come with a clutch pedal which unlocks the gears so you can safely shift from one gear into the next.
All this means that the driver has to do the work in a vehicle with a manual transmission, whereas an automatic transmission automobile does all of this work for you once you put it into drive. Physically, the two differ in that the manual transmission has the gear located in the floor whereas in an automatic transmission vehicle, the location of gear could be at the steering or on the floor.
The advantages of manual transmission
There are a few qualities of a manual transmission vehicle that are superior to those of an automatic transmission. Fort starters, because a manual transmission vehicle requires more effort and concentration from the driver, some people who really enjoy the act of driving prefer manual transmissions because they are more in control of the experience. But there are some more objective advantages of the manual transmission as well.
For one, manual transmissions are usually cheaper to buy than automatic transmission vehicles. They are also often less costly to repair and maintain. You might also save on fuel with a manual transmission vehicle as they tend to use less than automatics.
The advantages of automatic transmission
However, the manual transmission is not superior across the board. There are several advantages that the automatic transmission has. First, and most obviously, they are a heck of a lot easier to drive. Because the the vehicle is doing more of the work for you, you need not worry about the clutch; your left foot is free and driving requires less intense concentration.
For that reason, automatic transmission vehicles are more popular, especially in North America. Therefore, if you’re looking to purchase a vehicle, you’ll have more choice among automatic transmission automobiles, so it will likely be easier to get one.
So which is better?
Does the manual transmission have the edge? Or does the advantage belong to the automatic transmission? The answer is, of course, up to you. Clearly, both have their pros and cons. If you are a focused driver who likes to feel the workings of your vehicle, perhaps you’d prefer a manual transmission. If you’re just not bothered with such things, it will be easier to opt for the automatic transmission.
Transmission parts knowledge for people researching how transmissions work.
A transmission is an impressive puzzle to most drivers, made up of many intricate connections among a multitude of transmission parts. The complexity of these parts and how they fit together is intimidating, especially if you’re facing transmission repairs and you don’t understand what’s happening or why.
While we need to trust our transmission mechanics to take care of the specifics, knowing a little bit about the transmission parts that might be malfunctioning can help to set your mind at ease during the transmission repair process.
The first step to a basic understanding of transmission parts is to understand the purpose of the transmission as a whole. Your automatic transmission is responsible for transferring the power of your engine to the drive shaft and wheels so that your car can move within its optimal range of revolutions per minute (RPM). The transmission maintains this optimal range by shifting transmission gears as you drive faster or slower.
The main transmission parts that need to work together are:
Planetary Gear Sets
Planetary Gear Sets
Manual transmissions use a clutch to connect the engine and transmission. They require the driver to shift the transmission gears, which means actually moving the gears in a somewhat linear, sliding transfer to engage with the coordinating gears needed to maintain the proper RPM ratio. Automatic transmissions keep the transmission gears in one place, in a more circular structure. This is not unlike a small solar system, hence the name Planetary Gear Sets.
Using the combination of an outer ring gear, a central “sun” gear, and two or more smaller “planet” gears, which are all constantly meshed together, the transmission takes over the gear shifting from the driver. Much like the solar system, the sun gear is in the centre and remains stationary and the smaller planet gears engage with it and the ring gear to keep the car moving smoothly.
The ring gear is connected to the input shaft, which brings power from the engine. The planet gears exist within a casing or carrier that is connected to the output shaft which carries power to the drive train and wheels. The planet gears are also connected to a clutch pack. The sun gear is connected to a drum, which is connected to the other half of the clutch pack.
Transmission clutch packs are a series of disks, half with splines on the outside edge, and half with splines on the inside edge. These alternating disks are made to fit together to lock and turn together. They do this using hydraulic functionality.
All of the transmission parts are constantly submersed in transmission fluid. This fluid is manipulated to create pressure, which pushes the transmission clutch pack together at the right time. A complex system of tubes moves the fluid around the transmission and torque converter to create this pressure. The transmission hydraulic system has three main purposes: to help control transmission gear shifting, to lubricate the transmission parts to prevent friction damage, and to keep the transmission cool. The fluid pressure within the transmission must be maintained at all times to prevent damage.
The tubes that transfer the transmission fluid have two major external seals at the front and back. The seal at the front protects the connection with the torque converter and the rear seal contains the fluid where the transmission meets the output shaft. Seals are made of neoprene. Within the transmission exists another type of seal, called a gasket, which connects and protects two stationary transmission parts. Gaskets may be made of any of a variety of materials, such as rubber or silicone. Seals and gaskets can harden over time, which might cause leaks and a drop in transmission fluid pressure, both of which can lead to damage to the transmission.
When driving a manual transmission, the driver must engage the clutch or shift into neutral when the vehicle comes to a stop, such as at a red light, or the engine will stall. The torque converter in an automatic transmission allows the engine to continue running when the vehicle is stopped yet still in gear. Torque is defined as a force that causes rotation. The torque converter uses the pressure of the transmission fluid to control the rotation of its parts. When you are stopped at that red light, one half of the torque converter is turning while the other is stationary. When you accelerate, the fluid pressure forces the other half to spin in conjunction with the first half so that vehicle moves forward.
In most cars today, a computer controls the transmission’s function allowing all vehicle systems to work together for optimum fuel economy and power. As many as 30 sensors read all of the various factors such as vehicle speed, engine temperature, engine speed, etc, that control transmission gear shifting to ensure the optimal shift points are used.
The many transmission parts in your vehicle may remain a puzzle, but understanding some of the basics can help you to have a more informed conversation with your transmission mechanics before leaving it in their capable hands.
Is your vehicle’s clutch dragging or are you experiencing gear shifting trouble? Don’t let it ride. See a transmission technician immediately
Nothing can ruin your day quite like a dragging clutch or experiencing gear shift problems while you’re driving to work.
Whether your vehicle is struggling to find the right gear, is stuck in gear, or you hear grinding or other noises when shifting, it may be a sign the clutch is not working properly.
What Causes a Dragging Clutch?
Typically, a dragging clutch on a vehicle with a manual transmission is the result of the driver “riding the clutch” or other driving-related errors. On an automatic transmission, the cause of gears slipping can be the result of a broad range of mechanical or electrical malfunctions.
A clutch that fails to disengage from the flywheel causes gear shifting problems. The clutch allows the driver to change gears manually, or in an automatic car, the gears change as the vehicle accelerates. The longer a gear shifting problem occurs, the greater the overall damage will be to your car’s transmission.
Newer vehicles with electronically monitored shifting systems should be checked for any wiring problems, as any electronic issues with the sensors can affect how the transmission operates. On older vehicles that aren’t governed by an onboard computer, shifting too early or too late sometimes requires adjustment to the throttle cable. That is rare, as cables do not go out of alignment unless the vehicle has been in an accident, or were damaged during other repair work.
Talk to Canada’s transmission maintenance and repair experts at Mister Transmission. For more than 50 years, Mister Transmission has kept Canadian motorists on the road by ensuring the transmissions in their vehicles are in tip-top shape. If you have a question about your transmission solenoids or want to book a service appointment, contact the Mister Transmission service centre nearest to you.
Since 1963, Mister Transmission is the name Canadians trust to provide them with high-quality transmission repairs and expert service.
With franchises conveniently located coast-to-coast, Mister Transmission is the largest chain of transmission and driveline repair specialists in Canada. We're proud of our reputation and our history as Canada's premier transmission and technology experts...