Automatic transmission systems

Automatic transmission systems have been the saviour of many modern car owners for a while. They started emerging in the late 20th century and eventually overtook vehicles with a manual transmission system by the 21st century. This type of transmission has won the hearts of many, mainly because the transmission shifts much smoother and quicker. The absence of a clutch pedal makes it less challenging to disengage the clutch of a vehicle. Drivers only need to be focused on steering in the right direction, braking and accelerating.  It also offers better fuel mileage and ease while driving in traffic with a ‘stop and go’ pattern.

It may not be news that there is more to your vehicle with an automatic transmission than shifting the gear but what may be obscure are the various components that work together to form a complete automatic transmission system. For the fact that each constituent of this type of transmission system is vital, a fault in any of the components could affect the overall movement of your car. Here, we delve into the parts of an automatic transmission system and their primary function:

  1. Gear Stick: Without a doubt, this is the component that is most familiar to drivers and car enthusiasts. It is responsible for transitioning the vehicle from one gear to another. Commonly, an automatic gear has the following modes:
  • Park (P) – Complete Halt
  • Reverse (R) – Moving Backwards
  • Neutral (N)– Movement with no power from the engine
  • Drive (D)– Moving Forwards
  • Lower Gear (L)–Mostly used when there is low traction
  1. Friction Clutch: The friction clutch connects the gears to the drive shaft and directs the engine and input shaft to rotate at the same pace. Simply put, it produces the friction, which is created between the transmission and engine, thus aiding movement of the vehicle.
  2. Torque Converter: The torque converter is the component which replaces the clutch mechanism of the traditional manual transmission. It is responsible for slowing down and haltingautomatic vehicles,while still allowing the engine to run.
  3. Spring-Loaded Valve: The spring-loaded valve is a rotation speed sensor of the output shaft, which is linked to the drive wheels. This allows hydraulic fluid pressure to be supplied to the transmission system.
  4. Load Sensor: The automatic transmission uses a load sensor to determine the total load on the vehicle. This sensor can detect when there is more weight and sends necessary signals to the engine control unit.
  5. Seals and Gaskets: Numerous seals and gaskets work together to prevent transmission fluid from leaking out into other transmission components.
  6. Bands: The bands secure the gears in place.
  7. Shift Valve: This component manages the supply of transmission fluid for the bands and pistons.

Now that the inner workings of an automatic transmission system have been looked into, this piece will conclude with some recommendations to maintain it. Ensure that the vehicle’s transmission is topped-up regularly for proper lubrication. Make it a point to use the recommended transmission fluid for your car and have the entire transmission flushed routinely. Moreover, it is important that you do not change gears while in motion or drive immediately the ignition is turned on. This can cause serious damage to your transmission system.

Finally, refrain from driving on a spare tire and using your passenger vehicle for towing, as this puts excessive strain on the transmission.


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