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The Differences Between Automatic and Manual Transmissions

Since the automatic transmission was invented many decades ago, it’s been a very popular debate among car enthusiasts. Is it better to have a manual transmission or an automatic transmission in your vehicle? The true answer is that it primarily comes down to your personal preference.

The type of vehicle may influence things, as well. People driving high-performance sports cars, 4x4 trucks and other heavy duty vehicles will generally want a manual transmission for precise control and performance. Most daily drivers (especially those dealing with Southern California traffic) will simply want automatic transmission for pure convenience.

The Purpose of Your Transmission

Ultimately, all transmissions perform the exact same function. They transfer power from the engine to the wheels. Different gears allow the vehicle to run at different speeds and with specific amounts of torque. The main difference between manual and automatic transmissions are how those gear boxes are controlled.

Mechanical Differences

Automatic transmissions by nature are more complex systems. They will utilize what’s known as a torque converter, which does all the shifting work for you. It essentially automates the process, hence the name. Automatic transmissions also feature a planetary gear system. A manual transmission operates using a flywheel that’s attached to the engine’s crankshaft. A clutch disk is also part of the overall clutch assembly that allows you to manually shift gears with the clutch pedal and stick shift.

Both manual and automatic transmissions produce the same mechanical functions, but in slightly different ways. Thus, each has different components at work that need to be maintained. Transmission repairs (or replacements) can be very expensive, so you’ll want to address any minor problems before they lead to major issues.

Signs of Transmission Issues

Here are some of the common signs of transmission problems:

• Vehicle feels sluggish

• Vehicle won’t move when engine is running

• Grinding gears

• Transmission fluid leaks (usually bright red in color)

• Low or corroded/burnt transmission fluid

• Dashboard warning light comes on

Transmission Repair at Bill’s Quality Auto Care

Oftentimes, a standard transmission service is required, which includes changing the transmission fluid, pan gasket and transmission filter. Sometimes, a full transmission fluid flush is recommended if the system is really backed up. Otherwise, you’ll want to get your transmission inspected by an expert to determine the source of the problem.

Bill’s Quality Auto Care is here to help with your transmission service and repair needs. Whether you have an automatic transmission or manual transmission, our team of technicians has you covered. Call our Simi Valley shop today at (805) 387-9418 or schedule your next service appointment online.


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