Ultimate Guide on Car Transmission Types and Their Functionalities


Levin Harry, Negosentro | The transmission of your car is the most vital and sophisticated component. The transmission is composed of electronic components and complex hydraulics. The transmission component of a car is responsible for the movement of wheels. It imparts power from the engine to the driving axle.

By controlling the gear ratio, the transmission of the car is able to provide different power and speed levels at different gears.

Manual transmission has been used commonly in vehicles since decades, but modern vehicles have started using other types of transmissions. Though semi-automatic transmission has been used since the 1930s, it has undergone few developments and the type of semi-automatic transmission used these days is quite different and an improved version of the previous ones.
Types of Transmissions and How They Function

  • Manual Transmission– Also known by the names manual, standard, stick shift and three, four, five or six-speed, it is the less complicated of all. It is also one of the oldest types of transmissions to be used in vehicles. If your car uses a clutch to engage and disengage the transmission to the engine, then it has a manual transmission. The clutch is controlled by a foot pedal situated right next to the brake pedal. Though manual transmission is being replaced by automatic and semi-automatic transmission, it has its own advantages. It saves fuel and is easy to maintain and repair.
  • Automatic Transmission– The clutch pedal is what differentiates the manual transmission from the automatic one. If your car does not use the clutch pedal, then it has automatic transmission. It uses the automatic transmission fluid to keep the parts cool and allows smooth movement. Instead of the clutch system used in manual transmission, automatic transmission controls the movement of gears electronically on your car’s computer. The gear shifting can be controlled automatically without the any extra effort from you. This makes driving a pleasant experience.
  • Semi-Automatic Transmission– It can be described as a hybrid of manual and automatic transmission. Like the manual transmission, you need to change gear using the manual gearbox. Unlike the manual transmission, a clutch pedal is absent in a semi automatic transmission. Instead, the gear shift is controlled automatically using actuators, processors and electronic sensors. Since the whole process of gear change is controlled electronically, it offers a smooth and quick driving experience. As per historical records, the first semi automatic transmission was brought into the market by Chrysler. The semi automatic transmission was initially used in high-performance cars, but due to their high demand, these days they are commonly used in mid-range cars.
  • Continuously Variable Transmission– Continuously variable transmission or CVT is most commonly used in a much broader range of vehicles than the other types of transmission. They can be categorized as a type of automatic transmission, but they do not use gears. The CVT can change smoothly through a range of gear shifts, unlike automatic transmission. It offers numerous gear ratios and makes it very flexible. CVT can be of different types: Hydrostatic CVT used in agricultural equipment, Rubber belts used in utility vehicles, pulley-based CVTs used in milling machines etc. CVT offer many advantages such as low fuel consumption, higher efficiency and long-lasting parts. It offers a smooth riding experience and is far less sophisticated than automatic transmission components.

Each type of transmission component has its own advantages and disadvantages. Before considering the transmission for your vehicle, you should keep in mind your requirements and suitability.