Have you ever experienced a creaking, cranky noise while driving your car and wondered what’s causing that dreadful disturbance? Well, it’s probably your car’s transmission that is feeling a bit peaky.
A transmission, in the case of automobiles, is a machine that is connected to your car’s engine, in order to provide steady power and torque while driving. Based upon different conventions, the car’s transmission could include the gearbox alone or more commonly, the entire drivetrain, also comprising of the clutch, prop shaft, differential and the final drive shafts.
What does your car’s transmission do?
A transmission is essential for your car due to the difference in the rpm range of the engine and the car’s wheels, with the engine running in a much higher range. Furthermore, the power and the torque created by your car’s engine is quite unbalanced due to various factors such as the inertia created by your car’s mass as well as the slight deceleration caused by wind resistance, resulting in the car requiring a higher torque output at low speeds and greater power at high speeds. The automotive transmission system performs the critical function of transforming and distributing the output of the engine in a controlled manner to the wheels of the car.
What kind of transmission does your car use?
Cars, these days, have different kinds of transmission systems – ranging from the traditional manual shift to the more recent automatic (or semi-automatic), as well as the unconventional dual clutch transmission or the continuously variable one. Depending on which kind of transmission system your car utilizes, it is pertinent that you have, at least, an elementary idea of its functioning. Manual transmission vehicles have a gear shift that allows you to physically shift the transmission into the desired gear, as well as a clutch pedal that unlocks all the gears, making it easier and safer to shift between them. With an automatic transmission vehicle, there is none of this hassle, with the car deciding when to shift and automatically changing gears for you, once you enter the drive mode. While the automatic transmission vehicles are easier to use, they’re also less fuel efficient and have slower shift times.
How do you recognize a faulty transmission system?
Whether your car has a manual transmission system or an automatic, the transmission undergoes wear and tear and requires maintenance from time to time. Some of the common problems noticed with car transmission include its refusal to budge even when you’ve depressed the clutch pedal, overheating, unusual noises when shifting gears, a dragging clutch, gear slipping and mostly in the case of automatic transmissions, a whining or clucking sound and a peculiar jarring transition from one gear to the other. The reasons for these problems could be varied, ranging from low levels of the transmission fluid, inapt viscosity of the fluid, considerable slack in the clutch pedal or a leakage in the fluid.
How often is maintenance required?
Different car transmissions have different servicing needs. Typically, a new car can go 150,000 km before it needs a change in transmission fluid. However, older or second-hand cars with a higher mileage run can require a fluid change more frequently. The fluid can be replaced by draining and refilling or by power-flushing the system. Some of the newer automatic vehicles of today have transmissions that are completely sealed shut, with the fluid in them meant to last the entire lifetime of the car. But since the transmission’s interiors also wear down with time, leading to miniscule particles contaminating the fluid, it is recommended that you take your car transmission for regular maintenance checks.
Caring for your car’s transmission
Apart from the servicing of the transmission system, there are also other practices one could employ in order to increase its longevity, such as judicious braking and gear placement, warming up the vehicle before shifting it in gear and stopping the car completely before switching between the forward and reverse gears.
Changing your car’s transmission fluid is a much more complex process than changing the engine oil, requiring ramps, jack stands and the knowledge and skill of an experienced automobile mechanic. Since transmission maintenance is no child’s play, we recommend you visit your car’s service centre, instead of trying to fix the problem on your own, in the event of any noticeable malfunctions. A healthy car transmission is vital to your car’s optimal functioning and thereby, to your own safety as well. Do keep it running smoothly!