Written by: Auto News

Understanding Automatic Gears: What The Letters And Numbers Mean

Automatic transmissions are one of the most complicated components in your car. However, they’re also one of the most useful and convenient. Automatic transmissions have been around for a long time, but they used to be only available as manual transmission options. Today, automatic transmission technology has improved so much that it’s almost as if it’s a semi-automatic transmission with just a single gear. This makes operating an automatic transmission almost as easy as operating a standard manual transmission. If you have recently purchased a car with an automatic transmission, then this article is for you! Here we will discuss all things automatic gears — what they mean, how they work and why automatic is better than manual in almost every scenario.

Automatic Transmission Basics

As we discussed earlier, transmission is a mechanism that connects your engine to your wheels. When you press the gas pedal in your car, the engine starts producing power by turning the crankshaft. The crankshaft then turns the transmission’s input shaft, and the transmission finally transfers this power to the wheels through the drive shaft. Automatic transmissions have been around for quite some time, but their mechanisms have changed significantly with time. Early automatic transmissions had just two or three gears, and most of the time, you had to select the gear manually.

What do the letters and numbers on automatic gears mean?

The letters and numbers printed on automatic gears are the transmission’s final drive ratio. The final drive ratio tells you how many times the transmission’s input shaft must turn to cause the wheels to turn once. Let’s take a closer look at each of these numbers: First number (i.e. 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.) – The first number indicates the number of forward gears that the transmission has. A transmission with a first number of 3, 4, or 5 is a standard transmission that has 3 gears: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear. A 6-speed transmission has 6 gears, and an 8-speed transmission has 8 gears. The second number – The second number is the transmission’s overdrive gear. An overdrive gear is a gear that allows for reduced engine speed at a given road speed. For example, an 8th gear that has an overdrive ratio of 0.71 would enable the engine to run at a speed of 2,300 rpm at 70 mph. Third number – The third number is the transmission’s reverse gear.

How do Automatic Transmissions Work?

Automatic transmissions work on a set of hydraulically controlled clutches and bands. There are two basic types of automatic transmissions:

Manual-slip:

These transmissions use a single torque converter clutch to engage and disengage the transmission. When you’re driving at a constant speed, the transmission’s first clutch remains engaged. This enables the transmission to operate just like a manual transmission. The clutch remains engaged unless the transmission senses a drop in engine speed. If the engine speed drops, then the transmission starts working like an automatic transmission.

Dual-clutch:

The dual-clutch transmission contains two separate hydraulic control systems that engage and disengage the transmission. The first hydraulic system controls the transmission’s first clutch, and the second hydraulic system controls the transmission’s second clutch. This enables the transmission to remain in a constant state of an either automatic or manual transmission.

Pros of Automatic Transmissions

– They’re easier to operate than manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are simpler, smoother, and more efficient than manual transmissions. They also require less maintenance and are easier to repair in case of a breakdown.

– They’re safer to operate than manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are safer to use than manual transmissions because they include torque converters. Torque converters reduce the risk of a car stalling while driving up an incline by supplementing a car’s decreased torque while in an uphill situation.

– They’re extremely convenient. Automatic transmissions are the most convenient transmission type because you don’t have to constantly shift gears like in a manual transmission. You can just go about your business and let the transmission do its job.

Cons of Automatic Transmissions

– They’re less efficient than manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are less efficient than manual transmissions because they have a lower gear ratio and produce more heat when used.

– They’re less responsive than manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are slower to respond than manual transmissions because they require more time to shift gears.

– They’re more expensive than manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are more expensive than manual transmissions because they’re more complex and require more components.

– They’re not as engaging as manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are less engaging than manual transmissions because they don’t require the same amount of attention and concentration.

Should you get an automatic transmission?

Automatic transmissions are the best option for most drivers. They’re simpler to operate and more efficient than manual transmissions. Additionally, they’re more convenient, safer, and more engaging for the driver. However, if you’re a manual transmission enthusiast, then it may not be the right transmission type for you. In this case, you can try a semi-automatic transmission. These are a cross between a manual transmission and an automatic transmission. They allow you to shift gears manually, but they also offer some automatic transmission benefits.

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