Transmissions Then and Now

When cars were invented they were new and mechanically simple, but complex for their time. From the beginning, transmissions have always been the most complex components of a car. This video really makes a point about just how complicated transmissions are – and with all the new technology these days, there are more than 800 parts.

As transmission technology evolves, another layer of know-how and complexity is added. In 1915, if you were wealthy enough to own a car, you would either repair your transmission yourself or have a chauffeur do it, because a chauffeur was much more than just a driver in those days. He doubled as a mechanic and knew how to maintain and repair the cars he drove. Automobile mechanics by trade were mostly unheard of then, and sometimes even bicycle mechanics worked on cars.

Transmissions were all manual, and their complexity was determined by the number of gears to be managed. But even then, when cars were supposedly simple, the transmission was the most complicated part of a car. Its purpose and importance then was the same as it is now – transfer the power of the engine to the wheels. image - old american classic car

The first line of cars to feature automatic transmissions came to market in 1938, with the Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic drives. As automatic transmissions became more popular, the need grew for specialized mechanics who could repair these complicated systems.

As automatic transmissions have evolved, they have become more efficient, but are more difficult to troubleshoot and repair. Mechanics were starting to open more shops, but the need for specialists – particularly for transmissions – was recognized by Anthony A. Martino. With cofounder Robert Morgan, he started AAMCO transmission in 1957.

Future Transmission Technology

Today we see an incredible combination of cars and technology on the roads, all of which require certain levels of expertise to maintain and repair. From a Ford Model T or a Tesla Model S, we are witnessing the evolution of not only cars, but of the transmission itself.

The functions and general “health” of systems, including transmissions, in today’s cars are monitored and/or controlled by computers. One must first know how to read computer output and understand the data being provided to translate it into useful information and diagnose the problem. Then repairs can begin with the assurance that the issue will be fixed right the first time. But not just any mechanic can repair a transmission. You need a mechanic who is certified in transmissions and has repaired numerous makes and models who can honestly tell you what needs to be done and how much it is going to take.

Transmission Innovation

From continuously variable transmissions, to double clutch, to 8 or 9-gear “slushboxes” that seemingly juggle gears and make for the best performance and fuel efficiency, the days of manual transmissions and even the traditional 5-speed automatics, are numbered. The future of the transmission definitely entails great advancements in the technology that enables automation of gears, torque, and power transfer. The effort has been to eliminate, or limit, the reliance on friction to achieve torque (coupling the engine to the gearbox).

Continuously Variable Transmission

The continuously variable transmission (CVT) has been growing in popularity, as it is efficient in both fuel consumption and power delivery. Much like a bicycle, gears are arranged in a cone and a chain jumps between them. Ideally, a CVT lets the engine can run constantly at its most optimum RPM because it offers an infinitely variable set of gears. CVTs are also small and light, which makes them a good fit for smaller, compact cars.

Dual Clutch and Semi-Automatic Transmissions

Dual clutch and semi-automatic transmissions have gained in technology and popularity. The semi-automatic transmission can be likened to an electronically controlled manual transmission. Like manual transmissions, they are light and efficient. In some cases, the driver even has the option to maintain full control over the shifting, or put the transmission in full automatic mode.

The dual clutch transmission uses two separate clutches arranged in a concentric setup. One clutch handles even gears, the other handles odd. The advantage to a dual clutch is that the transmission can have the next necessary gear engaged (usually dictated by computer) even as the previous gear is released – resulting in instant shifts. This makes for an incredibly smooth driving experience. They are costly to manufacture and maintain, so they are not mainstream – but many argue they do offer today’s best combination of efficiency and performance.

Transmission Evolution

image - speeding car side view, low angle, night, high-speedWith all the transmission technology we see today, we have a glimpse at the future, and it’s pretty exciting. Whatever the systems and parts that make cars work, AAMCO will be there to maintain and repair them. AAMCO will continue to evolve its service offerings to meet the needs of customers and whatever they are driving. We’ve been in business since 1957 and have kept our professional, certified automobile services up to date with every advancement in technology.

Bring your car to AAMCO for a complete inspection and diagnostic to make sure it’s running safely and smoothly, today and tomorrow.

AAMCO Colorado Keeps You Informed

At AAMCO Colorado we take great care to keep you informed about your car and all its systems, as well as keep your car on the road with scheduled maintenance services and repairs, including full transmission repairs and rebuilds.

If you are experiencing any problems with your car, bring it to your local AAMCO Colorado Transmission and Total Car Care center for a complete Vehicle Courtesy Check diagnositc. We’ll help you keep your car running reliably and safely through all seasons, all weather.

If you have questions about your car’s transmission, road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Colorado can help. You can also go online and use the AAMCO Colorado Ask a Mechanic feature to submit your auto repair questions. They will be answered by a real AAMCO Colorado mechanic as soon as possible.

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