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.

Want to know more?
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Customer Reviews
Chris was fantastic in walking...
Hubert Miller
Chris was fantastic in walking me thru the process. Straight up and honest.I am in the auto business have been repairing transmissions for years and have had some horror stories with costly bills.Not in this case. Fair and accurate.
Date: March 1, 2021
Website: Google
Competitive pricing very straight forward...
Zakieh Accoumeh
Competitive pricing very straight forward easyto deal with
Date: February 28, 2021
Website: Google
Honest knowledgeable friendly if you...
Albert Karadza
Honest knowledgeable friendly if you need transmission work don't go anywhere else those guys are the best
Date: February 28, 2021
Website: Google
Dustin and Rory are honest...
Zakieh Accoumeh
Dustin and Rory are honest and take great care of their clients
Date: February 28, 2021
Website: Google
Honest
Leonard Yamniuk
Honest
Date: February 28, 2021
Website: Google
Very impressed by Cecil and...
J A
Very impressed by Cecil and his crew. Took my 2006 Jeep Cherokee in for fuel injector issues and had it running like a dream in no time. Finding a good mechanic that you can trust and won't take you to the cleaners is important to me. I'll get my jeep done here from now on. Shout out to Fab for taking care of my baby.
Date: February 28, 2021
Website: Google
Gary was magnificent and took...
Mike Marchese
Gary was magnificent and took excellent care of my car , not only was the timing great but the service was better than perfect and he ensured that my car will be in tip top shape when finished, i would highly recommend him for transmission issues and repairs as he is highly experienced and very knowledgable in the industry, overall a wonderful person to deal with!
Date: February 27, 2021
Website: Google
Fixed our car also have...
Brandon Edwards
Fixed our car also have rental service
Date: February 27, 2021
Website: Google
I lost reverse on my...
Lyn
I lost reverse on my toyota matrix. They were able to fix my transmission at an affordable price. As a student, this was a big plus.
Date: February 27, 2021
Website: Google
fast, friendly and good pricingI...
Gary Hudson
fast, friendly and good pricingI took my service van to a few other local Transmission shops with no results and my down time was way to long. It was really refreshing dealing with Pete and his team they figured out and fixed my transmission issue.
Date: February 27, 2021
Website: Google
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