Comparing the Different Types of Transmissions

Comparing the Different Types of Transmissions

13th Aug 2015

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Are you planning to buy a new car or truck in the near future? If so, one of the many considerations you'll have to make is the transmission. There are several different types of automotive transmissions, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Automatic Transmission

The single most common type of automotive transmission is automatic. Also known as auto gear shift or self-shifting transmission, it lives up to its namesake by automatically changing the engine's gear ratios as the vehicle moves. This means drivers don't have to worry about upshifting or downshifting, as these processes are done automatically. Keep in mind, however, that automatic transmissions tend to be less reliable than manual transmissions. And when the transmission goes out in your car, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,500 to $4,000 for a replacement.

Related Reading: Diagnosing Automatic Transmission Problems

Related Reading: What Causes an Automatic Transmission to Slip?

Manual Transmission

A manual transmission, or stick shift, requires the driver to push down a special clutch pedal with his or her foot and adjust the gear knob using their hand to change the gear ratios (hence the term stick shift). Generally, most modern-day cars with manual transmissions have five speeds, but it's not unheard of for a car to have six. The earliest model cars only had manual transmissions, as automatic transmissions weren't introduced into the market until the late 1930s.

One of the perks of choosing a manual transmission is performance. Since the driver has full control over gear shifting, he or she can often accelerate in less time when compared to the same model car using an automatic transmission. Manual transmissions are also viewed as being more fuel efficient, which is yet another reasons why so many drivers prefer them.

Related Reading: Tell-tale Signs Your Car Needs a Transmission Flush

Automatic Transmission w/ Manual Mode

One of the lesser-known types of automotive transmissions is automatic with manual mode. Much like a standard manual transmission, it features a mechanical clutch that's used to upshift and downshift. However, the defining characteristic of automatic transmission with manual mode lies in its method of shifting. There is no clutch pedal present, rather the driver shifts by pressing a button on the vehicle's dashboard. Often referred to as Direct Shift Gearbox or Sequential Manual Gearbox, it allows for automatic upshifting or manual shifts, depending on the driver's preference. Automatic with manual mode has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it offers a higher level of freedom than standard automatic transmissions.