How Does a Car’s Automatic Transmission Work?

The transmission controls the power that your car’s engine produces. There are two types of transmissions in modern cars, manual and automatic. Manual transmissions have a clutch pedal next to the brake and a lever to shift between gears. Automatic transmissions on the other hand do everything on their own. All the driver needs to do is accelerate and brake. Let’s look at how the automatic transmission works.

The car transmission can be defined as a regulator for the power generated by the engine. Let’s look at the first gear. If the engine’s output is3000 RPM, the tires would spin at a higher RPM to achieve the desired acceleration. This way the engine is under less stress and consumes less fuel.

Manual transmissions have multiple gear sets that produce different gear ratios. However, the automatic transmission only has a single set of gears. These gears have different combinations for the gear ratios. The gear ratios play an important role in enabling your car to accelerate and achieve its top-speed. They also enhance the life of your engine. 

A typical automatic transmission has two sets of planetary gears. Combining two planetary gear sets gives the automatic transmission four forward and one reverse gear. Planetary gear sets are an ingenious method of forming multiple gear ratios from a single set. The planetary gears form different ratios with the help of transmission fluid. The pressure of the fluid within the transmission locks different gears in place, forming a particular ratio.

However, the most important aspect is changing gear ratios in a moving vehicle and preventing the engine from turning off when braking. Manual transmissions have a clutch for this purpose. It separates the engine’s power from the wheels.

One of the most important components in an automatic transmission is the torque convertor. The torque converter is responsible for disconnecting the engine power from the wheels when the brakes are applied or when the driver is shifting the gears.

The automatic transmission is a miracle of engineering. All the driver needs to do is put the car into drive and the rest is done automatically.


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