What to Know About Your Vehicle’s Automatic Transmission

person driving in traffic

One part of your vehicle that plays a crucial role in its operation is the transmission. Unfortunately, it’s a part that many drivers do not fully understand. Be aware of what your transmission does, how you may damage it when driving, and how to identify the need to repair it. These tips will help keep you be better informed about your transmission.

What a Transmission Does

Your vehicle’s automatic transmission is responsible for shifting gears as you increase speed. Since the engine needs to operate at a very high speed, your engine will start in a lower gear when you first start accelerating. The transmission then automatically shifts to a higher gear as you increase in speed and the engine can handle the faster rotations. When you brake, the transmission shifts back to the lower gear.

Think of the transmission like the gears on a multi-speed bike. When you start out, you want to use a low gear where the gears are small and allow you to easily rotate the wheels. When you reach a higher speed, you can shift the chain to a larger gear that allows the tires to spin with fewer pedal rotations.

The gear-shifting process happens without you having to think about shifting gears manually. You’ll change gears as you give the engine more or less gas, which ensures your engine operates as efficiently as possible. Many drivers prefer this method to a manual transmission, which requires you to know the timing for changing gears on your own.

How a Transmission Becomes Damaged

You can accidentally cause damage to your transmission in many ways without you knowing.

A common habit drivers have that is bad for the transmission is shifting from reverse to drive without coming to a complete stop. When you perform this action, you’ll likely notice that the car suddenly jerks forward with a loud bang coming from the engine. This is due to you not waiting for the vehicle to completely stop, which forces the gears to suddenly change direction.

Another problem that can happen is towing too much weight behind your vehicle. You may have a trailer hitch, but that doesn’t mean you have unlimited towing power with your vehicle. If you tow a large trailer or boat, you could damage the transmission as it struggles to change gears with so much more transported weight.

Read the owner’s manual that came with your vehicle and understand how much weight you can tow behind your car. This should help clear up any confusion regarding what you can attach to your trailer hitch.

How to Tell If a Transmission Needs Repair

Know the signs that you have problems with your transmission. This can help let you know to visit a mechanic and fix the damage when it is minimal. The first issue you’ll likely notice is the banging sounds when the car changes gears. However, this will likely happen while in drive and the vehicle shifts gears up or down.

Also, monitor your transmission fluid levels. The transmission requires fluid just like your engine requires oil. If the fluid level is low due to a transmission fluid leak, the part will experience excessive wear and tear from normal use. You may even smell a burning odor from the engine if fluid levels are low.

A more obvious problem will be when your transmission fails to switch gears. You may find yourself getting onto the freeway and unable to accelerate past 40 mph or unable to go into reverse. This is a sign that something is wrong with the transmission as it is unable to shift gears automatically.

When you have doubts about the health of your transmission, take your vehicle in for repair at Ramona Tire & Service Centers.

Shop for Tires
The Ramona Tire Difference
  • Serving Southern California with honesty and integrity for over 45 years.
  • 17 Southern California Stores – Ramona Tire is always close by.
  • We’ll beat any local competitor’s advertised price by $5 per tire.
  • ASE-Certified and Hybrid-Certified Technicians.
Make an Appointment