An automatic transmission is a transmission very commonly used in automobiles. It frees the driver from the management of gear shifting and the clutch. As its name implies, the automatic transmission must perform certain operations automatically, without the driver’s assistance. The driver does not need to operate a clutch or shift gears. He/she can concentrate on accelerating, braking and steering the vehicle.
Once you’ve got an automatic transmission, you won’t be able to do without it. But before you invest in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, there are a few rules about its proper use.
First, let’s look at how an automatic gearbox works
An automatic transmission is made up of several components comparable to a manual transmission, but with different technology using the following elements:
– A hydrodynamic torque converter: this is the equivalent of the clutch in a manual transmission. This converter, composed of a turbine, a pump and a stator, allows the engine to run while the car is stationary and the transmission is not running.
– Each set of gears is associated with a transmission shaft.
– A hydraulic control is associated with an electronic management system that controls the engagement of the various gear ratios. This hydraulic control acts according to several parameters:
– The speed of the vehicle;
– The position of the accelerator pedal;
– The driving mode selected by the driver, if he has the choice.
Like all transmissions used in automobiles, the automatic transmission must perform several functions:
– allow the car to park while keeping the engine running;
– adapt the engine speed to the vehicle’s speed.
Good to know: other types of transmissions such as robotic transmissions or CVTs allow the driver to take care of the transmission operation.
In this post, you will learn how to use the automatic transmission to its best advantage and make it last as long as possible.
1. Choose your driving style carefully
Automatic gearboxes are becoming increasingly complex and offer different modes of operation such as:
– Economical: in normal driving, make sure you drive in eco mode. The gearbox will prevent the car from revving up, which will save fuel.
– Snow: practical when it snows, of course, but also if you’re driving on wet ground, for example. By forcing the car to start in second gear, the gearbox prevents the wheels from spinning. That way, you won’t get stuck.
Good to know: outside of these conditions, avoid the snow mode, as the car will not start smoothly. In addition, you make the gearbox spin unnecessarily, increasing the wear and tear on certain internal parts.
2. Use the engine brake wisely
Contrary to popular belief, engine braking can be used on this type of vehicle. It is very useful to slow it down on a steep slope. To do this, simply downshift. The vehicle will then slow down on its own.
However, keep your right foot in front of the brake, because the gearbox may automatically shift up, which may result in a loss of engine braking.
Good to know: some automatic transmissions can operate in sequential mode, which allows you to choose the gears. Don’t hesitate to use it when you use the engine brake.
3. Don’t abuse kick-down
Kick-down is a device that forces the gearbox to shift down sharply when the driver presses the accelerator pedal hard. This allows the driver to take advantage of extra power for fast passing.
However, this puts a lot of stress on the gearbox. Therefore, it should never be used until the car is warm. Count at least a quarter of an hour of operation before you can use it without prematurely wearing out the gearbox parts.
Warning: keep in mind that kick-down is very fuel consuming. Use only in case of extreme necessity!
4. Fuel consumption also depends on your driving style
The fuel consumption of an automatic transmission depends on its use. In normal, smooth driving conditions, modern automatic transmissions manage gear shifts so well that over-consumption, compared to a manual transmission, is negligible.
However, note that sporty driving will have a greater impact on fuel consumption than with a manual transmission.
Good to know: brake pads generally last less time with this type of transmission, since the engine doesn’t systematically brake the car like a manual transmission.
5. Take good care of your vehicle
Normally, nothing is more reliable than an automatic transmission. But its proper functioning requires regular and serious maintenance. In order to function perfectly, the gearbox needs to be lubricated with special oil, with a specific filling pressure.
Good to know: maintenance of the automatic gearbox should only be carried out by a professional, as it often requires a car diagnosis with the famous electronic suitcase, a sort of computer dedicated to the maintenance of your car.
All in all
There you have it; you now know everything about automatic gearboxes: their advantages, their disadvantages, and their maintenance. If you need to service your vehicle’s gearbox, you can visit the website of Xtreme Motor Works, which is a family-owned auto repair and maintenance shop based in Kissimmee. Remember to share your experience with our readers in the comment section below.