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The Working of Transmissions- An In Depth Guide

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Transmissions - the vessel that keeps the heart of your car - the engine - pumping. It’s certain that we've all thought at least once: How do these transmissions work? This blog answers exactly that. Read this blog to know how each type of transmission - Manual, Automatic, Semi-Automatic, and Continuously Variable Transmissions - works.

How do Transmissions Work?

How do Manual Transmissions work?

A manual transmission, also known as a stick-shift or standard transmission, operates through direct driver input. It consists of a clutch pedal, gear shifter, and various gears. When the driver depresses the clutch pedal, the clutch disengages the engine from the transmission, interrupting power flow.

Shifting the gear lever selects a different gear ratio, adjusting engine power to the wheels. Releasing the clutch pedal gradually re-engages the engine, transferring power to the wheels. The driver must coordinate clutch pedal and gear lever movements to achieve smooth gear changes, allowing for precise control of the vehicle's speed and torque output.

How do Automatic Transmissions work?

Automatic transmissions function using a torque converter, a fluid coupling device that seamlessly transfers power from the engine to the transmission. Inside the transmission lies a planetary gearset comprising sun, ring, and planetary gears. Gear changes are controlled hydraulically through transmission fluid pressure, enabling the engagement and disengagement of clutches and bands.

The Transmission Control Module (TCM) receives data from sensors, determining the most efficient shift points and directing fluid flow via shift solenoids. This process ensures smooth gear changes, adapting to driving conditions for optimal performance. Drivers appreciate the convenience of automatic transmissions, as they eliminate the need for manual gear shifting, allowing greater focus on steering and manoeuvring.

How do Semi Automatic Transmissions work?

Semi-automatic transmissions, also referred to as automated manual transmissions (AMTs), blend elements of both manual and automatic transmissions. They function without a traditional clutch pedal, while drivers have the freedom to manually choose gears using a gear lever or paddle shifters.

The electronic control unit (ECU) of the transmission automatically manages clutch engagement and gear shifts, eliminating the need for direct clutch manipulation. When the driver initiates a gear change, the ECU skillfully disengages the clutch, shifts gears, and smoothly re-engages the clutch. This intelligent system offers the ease of automatic transmissions combined with the control and engagement of manual transmissions, providing a versatile and user-friendly driving experience.

How do Continuously Variable Transmissions work?

Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) operate differently from traditional transmissions. Instead of fixed gear ratios, CVTs offer a continuous range of ratios, ensuring the engine maintains optimal RPMs for fuel efficiency and performance. They achieve this through a system of pulleys, belts, or chains, allowing seamless variation in gear ratios.

As you accelerate, the CVT dynamically adjusts the width of the pulleys or the position of the cones, continuously changing the effective gear ratio. This results in smoother acceleration and improved fuel economy, making CVTs an increasingly favoured choice in modern vehicles.


Thus, understanding how these transmissions function empowers us to make informed decisions about our driving preferences and vehicle choices. Whether you prefer the control of a manual transmission or the convenience of an automatic, each type plays a vital role in delivering a seamless and enjoyable driving experience

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