What's a Transmission?

Aug 7, 2016, 12:00 am

What It Is

It’s that thing in my car that shifts gears, duh…right? Technically, yes. Transmission by definition is the mechanism by which power is transmitted from the engine to the wheels of a motor vehicle. Most people associate the motor in a vehicle with the power. The motor is responsible for converting power into motion, but alone it’s limited. Just like the transmission in your car, the word itself is created from various parts. The word Trans-is a prefix meaning: across, beyond, through, changing thoroughly, etc. While the word mission can mean any important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed. So when you combine the two words as in transmission, when speaking of a cars transmission, you are left with a word that means; The part of a vehicle that makes the engine worth while.

The Breakdown

The transmission is the mechanism that channels all that horsepower and while just channeling horsepower wouldn’t be enough, the transmission has the capabilities to adjust gear ratios on the fly via the clutch. Imagine for a moment; it’s a hot summer day so to keep cool, you turn your desk fan on high. What would happen if you attempted to stop that fan with a pencil? In the same way, as the engine generates power it is spinning at a very high rate. How does a motor vehicle account for this? A Clutch. The clutch is the mechanism that separates the engine from the transmission and then re-connects them. This allows the transmission to change gear ratios.

Change Is Good

Changing gear ratios allows the vehicle deliver the same engine power in a different manner to obtain a different results. Seams like the old ten speed bike can teach a lesson. Switching the gears on that old bike didn’t change the muscles pushing it. Certainly, we can all recall a time driving down the road or down the highway approaching an incline with a foot on the accelerator. The moment the vehicle begins slowing, due to the incline, depress the gas pedal, the vehicle shifts as if given new life and surges up the hill. First, was the vehicles transmission at work, second without it the vehicle wouldn’t function, let alone climb hills.

Life Is Good

Most noteworthy, the transmission makes the motor vehicle possible. It’s like the flux capacitor of the motor vehicle world. Driving your car down the street, to the grocery store, on the highway, drag racing, street racing, track racing and off-roading wouldn’t be possible without it. Find out more here