Transmissions - Automatic

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About

Automatic Transmission
Automatic Transmission

The automatic transmission was originally invented in 1904, by the Sturtevant brothers of Boston. The weights used to change gears would often fall apart, but it has been the basis, for all automatic transmissions to date. A common automatic transmission is operated by the torque converter. The torque converter is mounted directly to the flywheel, as the engine RPM’s increase the torque converter spins faster. By spinning the torque converter the transmission fluid is pressurized which allows the energy to flow through to the output shaft. This generates the torque that the transmission uses to transfer the power from the engine to the wheels. Most automatic transmissions share the following gear pattern, PRND321. It is important to note that if the vehicle will not up shift on its own from a selected lower gear you must be cautious to not cause damage to the engine or transmission from allowing the RPM’s to get too high.

  • P or Park

P stands for Park, this gear selection mechanically locks the output shaft so that the vehicle will not move. This gear is not intended to be used alone especially on steep hills, the parking brake should be used in conjunction with Park. Most modern vehicles require the transmission to be in park or neutral before the vehicle will start.

  • R or Reverse

R stands for Reverse, this gear selection allows the vehicle to move backwards. Most modern transmissions require the vehicle to come to a complete stop prior to putting the transmission into reverse. This is done to prevent major mechanical failure from within the transmission.

  • N or Neutral

N stands for Neutral, this gear selection disengages all gears within the transmission allowing the transmission to be disconnected from the driven road wheels. This allows the vehicle is able to move freely under its own weight and gain momentum without the engine. By placing a vehicle in neutral the vehicle can be towed without causing damage to the drive line.

  • D or Drive

D stands for Drive, some vehicles also have Over Drive which is usually a OD or a box around a D (for example [D]). This position allows the transmission to engage the full range of available forward gears, and therefore allows the vehicle to move forward and accelerate through its range of gears. The number of gear ratios a transmission has depends on the vehicle.

  • 3

3 stands for Third gear, this mode limits the transmission to the first three gear ratios, or sometimes locks the transmission in third gear. This can be used to climb or go down a hill.

  • 2

2 stands for Second gear, this mode limits the transmission to the first two gear ratios, or locks the transmission in second gear. This can be used to drive in adverse conditions such as snow and ice, as well as climbing or going down hills in the winter time. It is usually recommended to use second gear for starting on snow and ice.

  • 1

This mode locks the transmission in first gear only. In some vehicles, it will not change to any other gear range. Some vehicles will automatically shift up out of first gear if a certain RPM range is reached in order to prevent engine damage. This, like second, can be used during the winter season, for towing, or for downhill driving to increase the engine braking effect.

Related Items

Automatic Transmission Assembly

An automatic transmission assembly is a replacement transmission for a vehicle. Typically an automatic transmission assembly will contain all the gears pre-installed, some are available with a torque converter and some come without the torque converter. There are a couple of reasons why a new assembly would be desired. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Assembly
Automatic Transmission Assembly

Automatic Transmission Coolers

Automatic transmission coolers help keep an automatic transmission at the optimal operating temperature of 175 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is achieved by placing a cooler which acts like a radiator in the engine compartment. Common practice is to install a transmission cooler in front of the radiator and air conditioning condenser to achieve the greatest amount of air flow. A space is required to be placed between the units of half to one inch. This space allows for air flow and prevents the units from touching each other which can eventually cause a hole to form in one of the units. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Coolers
Automatic Transmission Coolers

Automatic Transmission Filter & Gasket Kit

The automatic transmission filters job is to keep contaminates from entering the moving parts of the transmission. Contaminants can be present in your transmission fluid system from the manufacturing process. They can also enter the transmission through the vent, or through the dipstick and fill tube during fluid level checking/filling. Most of the time, however, contaminants are the result of normal wear. These contaminants consist of metal chips and flakes from gears and bushings and fine fibrous material from clutch facings. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Filter & Gasket Kit
Automatic Transmission Filter & Gasket Kit


Automatic Transmission Flex Plates

A flex plate is part of a vehicles drive train in automatic transmission vehicles, it is used in place of a flywheel in manual transmission. Flex plates are only used in automatic transmission vehicles. The flex plate mounts to the torque converter which generates the torque to drive the vehicle. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Flex Plates
Automatic Transmission Flex Plates

Automatic Transmission Overhaul Kit

An automatic transmission overhaul kit is a kit to rebuild or overhaul an automatic transmission. There are many different kits available for different jobs, and all kits are specific to the transmission in the vehicle. There are no universal kits. Kits are available to restore a transmission to its original operation as well as turn a transmission into a high performance unit. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Overhaul Kit
Automatic Transmission Overhaul Kit

Automatic Transmission Pan Gaskets

An automatic transmission pan gasket is a gasket that is to be used between the transmission oil pan and the transmission. Once the transmission pan is removed from the transmission the gasket will need to be replaced. Never reuse a gasket or you are bound to have a leak. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Pan Gaskets
Automatic Transmission Pan Gaskets

Automatic Transmission Pans & Drain Plugs

An automatic transmission pan is bolted to the transmission with a gasket between the two units. The purpose of the pan is to keep the fluid in the transmission while also being designed to be removed to allow the transmission fluid to be changed. An automatic transmission pan is typically made from steel or aluminum to reduce weight. All automatic transmission pans are specific to the transmission they are to be used on so that bolt holes and contours line up correctly. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Pans & Drain Plugs
Automatic Transmission Pans & Drain Plugs


Automatic Transmission Shift Kit

An automatic transmission shift kit is used to improve the shifting characteristics of a standard stock transmission. Typically a shift kit can be installed without removing the transmission from the vehicle, if this is done plenty of clearance will need to be provided for someone to get under the vehicle and work on the transmission. A major advantage to installing an automatic transmission shift kit is that it is an inexpensive and quick way to improve vehicle acceleration without doing major modifications to the engine. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Shift Kit
Automatic Transmission Shift Kit

Automatic Transmission Torque Converters

In a vehicle with an automatic transmission there is no clutch like in a manual transmission. Since there is no clutch, a torque converter is used to allow the vehicle to stay in gear while at a stop. This is accomplished by allowing the engine to turn but the amount of torque is low enough that it will not pump enough fluid through the torque converter to move the vehicle. Just as in a manual transmission vehicle there is a flywheel attached to the engine. The torque converter cover or housing is attached to the flywheel so it spins at the same speed as the engine. Inside the housing are fins which make up the pump. These fins are attached to the housing but are spinning at a slightly faster speed than the turbine. The pump inside the torque converter works by pulling the transmission fluid through the center of the torque converter inside of it and pushing it to the outside. This process creates a vacuum which keeps the fluid constantly moving. Read More -->

Automatic Transmission Torque Converters
Automatic Transmission Torque Converters


Automatic Transmission Valve Body Kit

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Automatic Transmission Valve Body Kit
Automatic Transmission Valve Body Kit


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