An Automotive Transmission Overview From A Tampa Mechanic

Car owners are often at a loss when they bring their vehicles to an auto service shop for a diagnostic checkup or car repair, even if it is just for auto AC repair. What more if the problem has anything to do with the brakes, engine or transmission? It would greatly benefit car owners to try to learn about how their vehicles work. This can be done in stages. For a start, here's an automotive transmission overview from a Tampa mechanic.

The car transmission is a mechanism connected to the back of the car engine, sending power from the engine to the drive wheels. Since a car is either a front wheel drive or a rear wheel drive, there are also two basic types of automatic transmission.

Both types of transmission ensure that power is sent to the drive wheels while keeping the engine at its best RPM (revolutions per minute) range. This is done through several gear combinations.

At the lowest gear the engine is turning faster than the drive wheels. At high gear, the engine loafs while the wheels are speeding. At neutral, the transmission disconnects the engine from the drive wheels. With reverse, the wheels are made to turn in the opposite direction for the car to back up. At park, a latch like a deadbolt is locked on the output shaft to prevent the drive wheels from turning.

In a car with a rear wheel drive, there is a hump on the floorboard beside the gas pedal. Beneath this hump is the transmission. The connection between the transmission and the final drive at the rear axle is called the drive shaft. Power from the engine goes through the torque converter and the transmission to be sent through the drive shaft to the final drive. There the power is split to be sent to the two rear wheels through the rear axle.

In a car with a front wheel drive the final drive is in front, between the two front wheels. The transmission is combined with it and the combination is called a transaxle. The engine is mounted sideways in front of the transaxle. The front axle, on the other hand, is connected to the transaxle. Power from the engine goes through the torque converter and has to pass through a chain that brings it around to the transmission which, in turn, sends it to the final drive. There the power is split to be sent to the two front wheels through the front axle.

Aside from these two basic transmission types which are the most common, there are other variations. In some front wheel drive vehicles, the engine is not mounted sideways but front to back. In the rear wheel drive system used often by Porsche, the engine, transmission and final drive are all mounted in the rear. The new Corvette's rear wheel drive, on the other hand, the engine and torque converter are in front but the transmission is mounted on the final drive at the rear. A different set up altogether is used on four wheel drives.

The transmission system is made up of the mechanical planetary gear sets; the hydraulic system that sends the transmission fluid; the torque converter that behaves as the clutch; seals and gaskets that prevent oil leaks; the governor and modulator or throttle cable that determines shifting; and, on newer models, the computer that controls oil flow.

With a general knowledge of your car's transmission, you will be better equipped in discussing your car's performance and any of its problems with your Tampa mechanic whenever you drive into your auto service shop.

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