Automatic transmissions are a crucial component in the majority of modern vehicles. This type of transmission has become the norm in the automotive industry and is commonly used in cars, trucks, and SUVs. They offer drivers the convenience of not having to manually shift gears, which makes the driving experience more comfortable and less stressful.
However, like any other component in a vehicle, automatic transmissions can develop problems over time. In this educational blog post, our transmission shop in Plainfield, IL, will cover everything you need to know about automatic transmissions, including how they work, their benefits, and the most common problems you might encounter.
What is an Automatic Transmission?
An automatic transmission is a type of transmission used in motor vehicles that automatically changes the gear ratio as the vehicle moves. Unlike manual transmissions, which require the driver to shift gears, automatic transmissions use fluid couplings, hydraulic controls, and planetary gear sets to change gears. This provides smooth and seamless gear changes without any interruption in the power flow to the wheels.
Automatic transmissions are generally considered to be more convenient and easier to operate than manual transmissions. They allow drivers to focus on the road and driving conditions, instead of having to constantly shift gears. Additionally, automatic transmissions often provide better fuel efficiency, as they are able to select the optimal gear for the driving conditions, which can help to conserve fuel.
What Does an Automatic Transmission Consist Of?
An automatic transmission is made up of several key components, including:
- Transmission fluid: Transmission fluid is used to lubricate the moving parts of the transmission and to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. There are many different types, viscosities, and brands of transmission fluids, do you know which type of fluid your transmission requires?
- Planetary gear sets: These are the gears that are responsible for changing the gear ratio as the vehicle moves. There are typically several planetary gear sets within an automatic transmission, each with its own sun gear, planet gears, and ring gear. Generally speaking, planetary gears are used as speed reducers. They are used to help slow down motors and increase the torque when needed. Are you having planetary gear problems?
- Valve body: The valve body is a major transmission component. This is the control center of the transmission, responsible for directing the flow of transmission fluid and regulating the shifting of gears.
- Torque converter: This is a fluid coupler that transfers power from the engine to the transmission. It uses the fluid within it to transmit power, allowing for smooth and seamless gear changes.
- Sensors & electronic controls: These components help regulate the operation of the transmission and ensures that it is functioning properly. They include speed sensors, throttle position sensors, and transmission control modules.
How Does an Automatic Transmission Work?
Automatic transmissions use a complex system of gears, fluid couplings, and hydraulic controls to change gears. The transmission is connected to the engine by a torque converter, which uses fluid to transmit power from the engine to the transmission. The transmission uses planetary gear sets, which are a series of gears that rotate around a central gear, to change the gear ratio and provide the different gear ratios required for driving.
The hydraulic controls in the transmission use fluid pressure to control the movement of the planetary gear sets and the clutch packs, which are used to engage and disengage the gears. The fluid pressure is generated by a pump located inside the transmission, and it is regulated by a series of solenoids and valves.
The transmission control module (TCM) is the computer and software that manages the transmission function. It receives input from various sensors in the vehicle, such as the throttle position sensor, the speed sensor, and the transmission fluid temperature sensor, and uses this information to determine the optimal gear for the driving conditions. The TCM then sends signals to the solenoids and valves in the transmission, which control the fluid pressure and determine the movement of the planetary gear sets and clutch packs. Is your automatic transmission having TCM problems?
Benefits of Automatic Transmissions
Automatic transmissions offer a number of benefits over manual transmissions. Some of the key benefits include:
- Convenience: Automatic transmissions free drivers from having to manually shift gears, which makes the driving experience more comfortable and less stressful.
- Improved fuel efficiency: Who doesn’t want to save money at the gas pump? Automatic transmissions can select the optimal gear for the driving conditions, which can help to conserve fuel.
- Easier to operate: Automatic transmissions are generally easier to operate than manual transmissions, especially for drivers who are not experienced in shifting gears.
- Enhanced safety: Automatic transmissions allow drivers to focus on the road and driving conditions, instead of having to constantly shift gears. This can improve overall driving safety.
Common Problems with Automatic Transmissions
Despite their many advantages, automatic transmissions are not immune to problems. Is your vehicle due for some transmission maintenance? Here are some of the most common transmission problems:
- Transmission slipping: This occurs when the transmission is unable to maintain a gear, causing the engine to race while the vehicle slows down. If your transmission is slipping this is a sign that your vehicle needs maintenance.
- Delayed engagement: This occurs when there is a lag between the time the driver shifts into gear and when the transmission actually engages. Is your transmission fluid low?
- Hard shifting: Is when the transmission abruptly shifts from one gear to another, causing a jerking motion. If you are noticing the transmission shifting hard, it should be taken as a warning that your transmission needs repair.
- Fluid leaks: Automatic transmissions rely on fluid to function properly, so any leaks can cause serious problems. Transmission leaks are a common occurrence that happens through excessive wear over time. Is your transmission fluid running low? Make an appointment today for a transmission fluid check, we have you covered.
- Electronic faults: Modern auto-matic transmissions often use electronic controls to regulate shifting, and any faults with these systems can cause problems.
If you’re experiencing any of the above problems with your automatic transmission, it’s important to have it inspected and repaired by a professional like Last Chance Auto Repair located over on the Plainfield, Naperville, Bolingbrook, IL, border. A properly functioning transmission is essential for the safe and reliable operation of your vehicle, so don’t ignore any warning signs. Don’t neglect your transmission, as taking care of it can prevent costly repairs and ensure that you’re able to enjoy a smooth and comfortable driving experience for many years to come.
Contact Us, anytime, or call 815-577-0327 to schedule an appointment.
Automatic Transmission Resources: Automatic Transmission, Automatic Transmission Repair