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Transmission Parts

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
  •     Hydraulic System
  •     Torque Converter
  •     Computer
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.

Hydraulic System

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.

Torque Converter

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.

Computer

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.

As Gene Lewis at the Moncton Mister Transmission says,

“We’re the specialists, transmissions are all we do.”

 

If you are experiencing a problem with your vehicle’s transmission, please contact your local Mister Transmission and book an appointment for our FREE 21-Point Multi-Check Inspection.

For a more in-depth explanation, please visit our Transmission School

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Protecting Your Transmission from Winter Hazards

Winter conditions vary geographically, but there are a few conditions that are common to most of Canada during the winter months. How you deal with those conditions can have a dramatic effect on your transmission.

So What Happens?

  • As temperatures drop, fluids thicken, reducing their ability to lubricate.

Solutions:

  • Driving slowly for the first few miles, until your engine and transmission reach normal operating temperature.
  • Invest in an engine heater that plugs into a wall outlet and warms the engine before you come out in the morning. A timer will let the engine warm up a few hours before you’re ready to leave, saving you money on gas, and reducing engine wear.

Did you know for many transmissions, you may be damaging the internal components with excessive engine idle? That’s because some transmissions don’t lubricate the internal components with the shifter in park. Oil doesn’t start moving in park so internal transmission components are spinning — ice cold — with no lube flow. Not good.

Snow and Ice — for much of the country, driving on snow and ice is part of a normal winter. But there are specific hazards to your transmission on those frozen roadways.

So What Happens?

  • When stuck, too often, drivers spin their wheels in the hope of freeing themselves from a snow drift or icy patch.
  • The transmission in today’s cars use a computer to control transmission operation. When you spin the wheels, when the speedometer registers 40-or-so MPH, the computer identifies driving conditions as being right to engage the converter clutch. Now the engine is locked directly to the drive wheels.
  • If the wheels regain traction, all that force is applied directly to the drive line components.

Solution:

  • The best way to get out of a drift or icy patch is to rock the car back and forth… forward and reverse… until you can get moving again. Or, better yet, get someone to push or pull you out of the snow. Avoid spinning the wheels excessively or make sure there is not excessive wheel spin when you contact a surface with better traction as you could end up damaging the transmission.

Water in the Transmission — No major component of your car can survive indefinitely with water in its internal components. But no other component can be damaged as quickly by water as your transmission. Even a small amount of water in an automatic transmission almost always results in serious failure and major repair bills.

So What Happens?

  • The reason is the band and clutch linings absorb water, even if they have to push transmission fluid out to do it.
  • This water quickly finds its way down to the metal backings, causing them to rust and lift the linings off. The result is metal-to-metal contact, which always means serious damage to the transmission.

Solution:

  • Steer clear of deep puddles, should you find your car submerged, don’t start the engine. Your only chance of avoiding a big repair bill is to have your car towed into a transmission shop and have the oil drained out and replaced immediately. If not, your auto insurance may cover part or all of the damage. Mister Transmission will be happy to supply the necessary technical information to your insurance company.

So whether its snow and ice, water, or just plain cold out, winter delivers a whole new set of conditions just waiting to damage your transmission. Whether it succeeds or not depends on how you deal with those conditions.

Mister transmission specializes in transmission and drivetrain repairs and service. Mister Transmission is a member of ATRA — the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association — and adheres to its requirements for honest, reliable, quality service.

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Congratulations Chris Kennedy!

Mister Transmission is excited to announce that Chris Kennedy, the owner of Mister Transmission in Moncton, New Brunswick has won the “Canadian Technician of the Year” award for 2014!

21 people were nominated for the annual award, which recognizes exemplary shop owners or technicians who have gone above and beyond either by mentoring young technicians, completing special training courses, being active in their community, going that extra mile for colleagues or offering unique diagnostic or troubleshooting skills. The judges consist of a panel of automotive repair shop owners and technicians from across the country. After two rounds of judging, the contest was down to three remarkable finalists, and Chris won the award.

Forging ahead on new pathways

Chris possesses the forward-thinking mindset that is deserving of such an award. When Chris encountered an obstacle with an intimidating technology, (the J2534 flash reprogramming), he dove head-first into all the training resources he could get his hands on. He is now an expert on J2534, and regularly trains mechanics all over North America on the importance of this technology in the automotive repair industry.

Not only is Chris committed to ongoing training himself, he ensures that his staff receives regular education in order to stay ahead of the curve. He believes that in order to achieve success in this business, and to truly help his staff and clients, one must truly strive for excellence. For Chris, training in new technologies is paramount to reaching that goal. In the words of one of the judges;

“His insatiable curiosity, foresight, and skills not only attracted Mister Transmission’s top brass, but his very impressive commitment to learning heavily influenced a national corporation to invest in new technology. That in itself is an impressive accomplishment.”

Chris’ efforts not only transformed his business, but also had a huge impact on the entire chain of Mister Transmission shops across the country. Chris won the award based on his ability to use automotive technology to expand his business and build trust with customers. We’re thrilled that one of our own has been recognized for his diligence, and we’re very thankful to Chris for all of his dedication.

 

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