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
Took my 2012 Nissan Altima...
Jasbir Singh
Took my 2012 Nissan Altima to the dealer in Mississauga because the car wouldn't pick up speed properly. They said the transmission needed replacing and gave me an estimate that was really expensive. Another customer in the waiting area at the dealer recommended I try Mister Transmission so I called the store in Brampton because it was close to my work. I am very glad I did. They fixed my problem for a lot less and they were very professional in explaining what was wrong. I picked up my car 3 days ago and it is working great now. Thank you Mister Transmission.
Date: September 20, 2020
Website: Google
Highly recommend this location! Ken...
W LU
Highly recommend this location! Ken is the best. Mr. Ken Barone is an amazing automotive technician, he know his stuff, he fixed my car left wheel noise problems in mins. It's been 16 months, the problem never came out again, and now my old corolla is steady and in a very good condition. I think it's necessary to write a great review again for this location, especially in this difficult time. If your car has a problem, go to this location, Ken will fix your problem.
Date: September 20, 2020
Website: Google
Great place. Fast delivery on...
Christine Dickson
Great place. Fast delivery on parts.
Date: September 19, 2020
Website: Google
My truck transmission blew out...
J
My truck transmission blew out on a Saturday morning, I contacted them early afternoon. Mark (owner)told me best to get it towed asap to the shop,which I did.He contacted me on the Monday and informed me the damages.Was a major rebuild.On the following Friday the truck was ready and drove like new.They contacted several times informing me about prices,very professional and knowledgeable. Always answered my questions and the price was amazing compared to anyone out there.I wouldn't hesitate to send anyone to this place,top notch service and very friendly service!!
Date: September 19, 2020
Website: Google
If your looking for the...
S OB
If your looking for the best service and work ethic, in Alberta, these guys are it. Transmission shops are notorious for bad reputations. I own a 2003 custom land rover and trust it with basically no one but these guys now. I waited for 3yrs to find the right people to do the work. They not only did what I asked, but way over and above. Mel is an absolute pleasure to deal with.I was referred to Excel by Family that own Popo and Sons on Lacombe. Best advice in yrs.
Date: September 19, 2020
Website: Google
My truck transmission blew out...
J
My truck transmission blew out on a Saturday morning, I contacted them early afternoon. Mark (owner)told me best to get it towed asap to the shop,which I did.He contacted me on the Monday and informed me the damages.Was a major rebuild.On the following Friday the truck was ready and drove like new.They contacted several times informing me about prices,very professional and knowledgeable. Always answered my questions and the price was amazing compared to anyone out there.I wouldn't hesitate to send anyone to this place,top notch service and very friendly service!!
Date: September 19, 2020
Website: Google
My truck transmission blew out...
J
My truck transmission blew out on a Saturday morning, I contacted them early afternoon. Mark (owner)told me best to get it towed asap to the shop,which I did.He contacted me on the Monday and informed me the damages.Was a major rebuild.On the following Friday the truck was ready and drove like new.They contacted several times informing me about prices,very professional and knowledgeable. Always answered my questions and the price was amazing compared to anyone out there.I wouldn't hesitate to send anyone to this place,top notch service and very friendly service!!
Date: September 19, 2020
Website: Google
Excellent service
Michael Gardner
Excellent service
Date: September 18, 2020
Website: Google
Was convinced I had a...
Jonathan Campbell
Was convinced I had a transmission failure and was prepared for a big bill but they spent the time to diagnose that it wasn't transmission related. Let me know where to go with no charge. Very honest.
Date: September 17, 2020
Website: Google
Called Friday afternoon and booked...
Clarence Benson
Called Friday afternoon and booked me in for 8am Monday.👍
Date: September 17, 2020
Website: Google
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