Transmission Basics: Understanding the Basic Parts

By Mister Transmission

Before you hand over the keys, brush up on the basics of automatic transmissions so you can understand why your transmission is acting up. Here we’ll cover the basic parts of a transmission, basic transmission problems and how to know if a rebuild is in your future.

What is a Transmission?

The transmission allows you to shift your car from gear to gear, knowing how fast you need to go and how quickly you need to get there. Remarkable stuff.

Parts of a Transmission: 101

While there are many little parts inside, your transmission is essentially made up of 4 key parts of systems:

Bell Housing: This is the cone shaped metal case that you can see when you peek underneath your car. If you have a front-wheel-drive car it’s stuck on the side of the engine under the hood. If your car is rear-wheel-drive, the transmission will be mounted underneath the car behind the engine.

Gears: Even though you’re not shifting them, an automatic transmission has gears. They are broken into main gears and planetary gears. You need all of these to be able to drive.

Fluid: Transmission fluid is very important to an automatic transmission. All of the magic happens in the fluid. Most cars come with red transmission fluid, good to know if you are looking for a leak.

Filter: All of that fluid has to be clean for your car to shift gears at the right time. To keep things fresh, your transmission has a filter to catch any gunk.

Transmission Problems: 101

If your car won’t start or doesn’t run smoothly, these problems are caused by the same faults in your transmission, so whichever your car is doing, the following applies:

Is your fluid level correct?

It’s important to check your transmission fluid at least twice a year. Not only can a low fluid level cause your car to shift poorly, it can eventually lead to transmission damage, and a costly repair. If your car seems to be losing fluid on a regular basis, you may have a leak.

Is your transmission leaking?

Checking for leaks isn’t as difficult as it may seem. The transmission is a closed system, so there are only a few places that can spring a leak. Unless it’s been changed to a non-dyed fluid, your car will have red transmission fluid. Here are a few places to check for leaks:

  • At the filler tube base.
  • At the drain hole underneath the transmission.
  • Between the transmission and the engine.
  • At the selector shaft – the rod that connects your gear shift to the transmission.
  • At the speed sensor mounting point: This will either be your cable screwing into the transmission housing or an electronic sensor bolted to the housing.
  • In the radiator: If your car has a transmission cooler, it’s possible that a leak will cause transmission fluid to leak into the radiator fluid. They don’t mix well, so you’ll see it floating around in there.

Is Your Filter Clogged?

Your transmission’s filter is vital to its performance. If you haven’t replaced your filter in a while, or ever, be sure to do this before you start talking about rebuilds or replacements.

Time for a Rebuild?

When your transmission is worn out, you’ll have to have it rebuilt. For some makes and models of car this is true a little too often. The important thing is checking any other possible causes to your problem before you have it taken apart. If you haven’t replaced your filter yet, start there as this fixes a good percentage of transmission problems. If your filter is in good condition and nothing simple is out of adjustment, it’s likely you’ll need a rebuild. The good news is that at Mister Transmission we offer a rebuild warrantee so you’ll know it will get fixed and stay fixed.

Generally, transmission problems can’t be fixed by the average do-it-yourselfer. There are just too many specialized and expensive tools and pieces of equipment needed. We recommend keeping up with your regular maintenance to keep you out of the shop as much as possible.

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Customer Reviews
Great work and good prices!...
Tyler Cayen
Great work and good prices! Quick oil changes too! Been going here for years
Date: May 14, 2024
Website: Google
Got the job done quick...
Ethan Everaert
Got the job done quick and easy. Recommend 10/10
Date: May 13, 2024
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They replaced the Transmission lines...
Michael Parrott
They replaced the Transmission lines and Pan on an old 2010 Kia, no hastle communication and provided an accurate quote upfront. Friendly counter service, I would highly recommend this place for transmission service.
Date: May 13, 2024
Website: Google
Great service, trustworthy and good...
L W
Great service, trustworthy and good prices. My car runs like new now that the manual transmission is fixed. Thank you!
Date: May 13, 2024
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Great people -- great service!
Rob Dagenais
Great people -- great service!
Date: May 13, 2024
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Knowledgeable, professional and good service.
Jacobo Pineda
Knowledgeable, professional and good service.
Date: May 12, 2024
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Good people got my transmission...
Isidro Thiessen
Good people got my transmission repaired quickly. It was expensive tho.
Date: May 12, 2024
Website: Google
I have a 2015 Mazda...
Jaimin Patel
I have a 2015 Mazda 3 with automatic transmission. It is having jerking issue at 2nd gear when the car is cold. One of my known mechanic suggested Ken for transmission issues. I went there and parked my car overnight to make sure it is cold. In morning, Ken drove it and figure out instantly it was a computer mechanism trying to save fuel by engaging clutch and gear differently, which is normal and I should not spend any money on it. I liked Ken's experience and knowledge and his guidance which saved me going broke.
Date: May 11, 2024
Website: Google
I had my 2007 Toyota...
Theresa F
I had my 2007 Toyota Rav 4 transmission rebuilt almost 2 years ago. Decided to bring it back for a transmission fluid change and for another check before the warranty expires. What I didn’t tell them is that there’s already a leak (my neighbour told me). I’m giving this business a 5 star review because they are honest. They told me it had a leak and they had to replace the seal, and it was still under warranty. Wow! Thank you!!!
Date: May 11, 2024
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Excellent experience. Jason is the...
Phil Wall
Excellent experience. Jason is the frontman. Super professional, friendly, and knowledgeable. Great service.
Date: May 10, 2024
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