Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingGearbox and Transmission Car Gears – Understanding Gears In Manuals And Automatics

Car Gears – Understanding Gears In Manuals And Automatics

by Jordan Harris
Car Gears

Are you interested in purchasing a car and you doubt whether to go for a manual or an automatic and you are confused by the term car gears? If that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.

Doing proper research and understanding what are car gears and how do they work is quite essential if you want to go out there on the market and purchase a vehicle. Especially if it is a manual transmission car that can be somewhat tricky to drive for inexperienced drivers.

So, that’s why we are here to simplify the topic and deliver you the result you want. And that is to understand how car gears work and how a manual transmission works in a car. And most importantly how to drive a manual transmission car. Not to forget the pros and cons of owning a manual transmission.

But that is not all, we will also cover the automatics and understand how they work as well. We will cover the basics of their work and learn how to drive an automatic transmission. We will also discuss the pros and cons of having automatic car gears as well. So, if you want to learn more on this topic. Follow along till the end.

What Are Car Gears?

Before we dive into more complex topics, let’s first discuss something really simple and that is car gears. What Are they and why they are important in your car? Let’s elaborate.

The short answer is that they are extremely important because the gears that are inside of the transmission are making the smooth shifts possible.

There are helical gears inside of the transmission. These helical gears are quite complex and a work of art to be honest.

Car Gears

This is quite the same for both the manuals and automatics. Only the reverse gear is a standard spur gear and that’s why you are experiencing some weird sounds when you put the car into reverse.

Car gears might also refer to the gears you select from the shifter. You just go through the gears as people would say. That’s why this phrase can be somewhat confusing for beginners that are just beginning understanding cars in general.

The car gears can mean two different things. The gears that are located inside of the transmission, as well as the gear you select by moving the shifter. So, beware of these two things if you don’t want to get yourself confused even more. Now let’s learn more about manual transmissions and see how these transmissions work in practice.

What Is A Manual Transmission?

Now after we learned what are car gears. Now let’s learn more about the first type of car transmission. And that is the manual transmission. But what does manual mean?

Manual transmission is the type of transmission that was firstly introduced in cars. This type of transmission is requiring the driver to go through the gears manually. Meaning that you have to do the hard work all the time with your foot. Unlike automatics where everything is done by the transmission itself.

Car Gears

Although a pain for some people, manuals are enjoying great popularity on the old continent also known as Europe. In Europe and most parts of the world, driving a manual is a really normal thing and 99% of the drivers know how to drive a manual.

Unlike in the US where automatics prevail and the vast majority of the cars sold here are automatics. But there are still some car enthusiasts who love cars and would gladly purchase a manual transmission car.

Manual car gears even though they are more difficult to operate, are a lot of fun to drive because every shift is different and it greatly improves your experience as a driver. You are basically immersed with your car and become one with it. A really fun experience. Personally, I drive a manual and there is nothing else that feels similar to it. But how do manual car gears work? Let’s elaborate on that in the following chapter.

How Does Manual Transmission Work?

Now after we have an idea of what are manual car gears and the basics of a manual transmission. Let’s see how manual transmission works in reality.

Manual transmissions have a really simple method of action. They are not dependent on hydraulic fluid like automatic transmissions. They are dead simple to understand.

We will not focus on the car gears that are inside because this is not an article about repairing a manual transmission. The important thing for you to know is to understand the method of action of this transmission.

This transmission works with something known as a clutch. The clutch is basically a disc that is mounted between the transmission and the engine. This clutch comes in contact with the flywheel to engage and disengage the transmission.

But what makes this engaging and disengaging possible? Well, that’s made possible by your input on the clutch pedal. Whenever you press the pedal you disengage the clutch and then when you release the pedal the clutch and the flywheel come into contact again and the car moves. Simple as that. But how can you drive a car with manual car gears?

Well, it is dead easy after you figure it out. But in the following chapter, we are going to explain the process of driving a car with a manual transmission in detail.

How To Drive A Car With Stick Shift?

We learned about car gears and how manual transmission works in reality. Now let’s take a look at how to drive a manual or a stick shift as would some people say? It’s dead easy after you figure it out. Even though for some beginners can be really tricky because the car can stall really easily. But we are going to help you out with that.

The important thing when you want to learn to drive a manual transmission is not to panic. So, how this shifting procedure is done on a manual? Let’s elaborate.

The first thing you will need to do is to start the car. But before you start your car, you need to select neutral. Because if you start the car in 1st or 2nd gear it will instantly stall if your foot is not on the clutch pedal. So, placing your gear stick in neutral before you start the car is the key thing to do.

Next thing after you start the car would be to press the clutch fully to the bottom. Then after the clutch is pressed, you can select 1st gear if you want to move forward.

After selecting 1st gear you slowly remove the foot of the clutch and apply some gas. Not a lot but enough to make your car move.

It is important to remove the foot from the gas slowly because you don’t want to stall the car. While depressing the clutch pedal you will feel the point where the clutch bites the flywheel. And this is the point where you apply a bit more gas and release the clutch pedal completely. That’s it, you are in first gear. It’s so easy. Manual car gears made simple.

Manual Transmission Pros & Cons

So, we learned what are manual car gears, now let’s discuss the pros and cons of driving a manual transmission. There are a ton of these pros and cons when it comes to these transmissions and we are going to list them all.

We will start with the pros of a manual transmission. The main pro of manual transmissions is that they are cheap and really affordable. A manual transmission is dead simple inside and doesn’t have the complexity of automatics which at some points can be overwhelming.

Another pro of a manual transmission is the experience this transmission is delivering for you. There is nothing else out there like a manual transmission. You feel fully connected with the car and you and the car are basically one. That’s why manuals are so popular in the car community and they go up in price when it comes to high-performance cars like a BMW M3 for example.

The cons of the manual transmission are a few. The biggest con is the learning curve. They can be quite tricky for beginners to grasp and you will highly likely need a few thousand miles of driving a manual to completely immerse with the car.

The second con is fuel economy. The fuel economy is somewhat worse when it comes to the manual car gears. Especially if you have a heavy foot and you love to press on the gas pedal.

And the third con is availability. As you know, in the US, the vast majority of cars are automatics. So, finding a manual can sometimes be compared to finding a unicorn. And this makes the prices of manuals go high through the roof. So, getting a good deal can be tricky.

What Is An Automatic Transmission?

Now after we covered the manual car gears, let’s focus on the automatic transmissions. As you probably know, automatics are one of the most popular car transmissions in the US.

They are so popular that make the vast majority of the cars in the US. In the past, automatics were real clunkers that delivered poor performance and fuel economy. But as the years progressed, they have become more and more refined.

Nowadays, the fuel economy that automatics deliver is incredible and much better than manual transmission cars. Not to mention that they drive really well.

Car Gears

They deliver snappy shifts that are instant without delays and unpleasant noises coming from the transmission while you are shifting. That’s why they are the way to go for a lot of new car buyers since they are not that expensive to purchase and offer good fuel economy and performance.

It is worth noting that there are a number of different types of automatic transmissions out there. These are the classic torque converter design that makes a majority of the cars. Then there is the CVT transmission also known as continuously variable transmission. There is the DSG transmission in VW cars also known as dual-clutch or direct-shift transmission.

There are so many of them that could even confuse you. But luckily for you as a car buyer, you don’t have to bother with these abbreviations. You only need to learn if that specific transmission you want to purchase is problematic or not. As well as the maintenance requirements. But have you asked yourself how the automatic transmission car gears work? Well, that’s what we are going to discuss next.

How Automatic Transmissions Work?

Now after we got the base input and we learned what is an automatic and the types of automatic transmissions out there. Not let’s understand how automatic car gears work in practice. What makes the work of the automatic transmissions possible?

The short answer is hydraulic power. All automatic transmissions are using hydraulic pressure to work and deliver a good performance.

Automatic transmissions are far more complex than manuals are and they have a few planetary gear sets. They also have a few clutch packs inside that make the shifts possible, in addition to this, there is the torque converter mounted between the engine and the transmission.

At the bottom of the transmission, there is the valve body which is in charge of delivering a proper hydraulic pressure wherever there is a need to do so. The valve body is a really complex component that resembles a maze where the hydraulic pressure goes to deliver you proper shifts. But what makes this hydraulic pressure possible?

The short answer is hydraulic fluid. This fluid is also known as ATF or automatic transmission fluid. This fluid is red in color and does all the heavy lifting when it comes to delivering proper shifts in your car.

Automatic car gears are extremely sensitive when it comes to this fluid and they will not deliver the result you want if you are running a low transmission fluid or a dirty transmission fluid.

So, whenever you are running an automatic vehicle, make sure that you always check the transmission fluid and its level if you don’t want to deal with gear slipping, shudder, humming noises, and other problems that often occur when the car gears are working with bad ATF.

Understanding The PRND Pattern

Now after we understood how automatic car gears work and learned that the automatics work with the help of the ATF fluid. Now let’s move to something else and that is understanding the PRND pattern.

If you have driven an automatic, you are probably familiar with this pattern next to your automatic gear lever. This is the pattern you need to learn if you want to drive an automatic transmission.

But luckily for you, it is so easy to understand when compared to a manual transmission car. Unlike in manuals where there is an H pattern. In automatic transmission cars, the gear lever moves only up and down and that’s it. It cannot be simpler than this I think. But let’s elaborate on these specific letters to understand what do they mean in the first place.

The first letter is the P, this letter refers to park. This is the position where the car is parked. Meaning that the car cannot move forward or backward while in park. You are basically stuck when you select park. And this is normal if you want to park your car.

The next position that we will cover is R. R stands for reverse. Meaning that when you select these gears, the car goes into reverse and your rearview camera turns on if you have one.

The next letter that you will come across is the N. N stands for neutral. Neutral gear means that the car can roll forward or backward. It is not engaging. A useful option for towing your car.

And the last important letter is the D. D means drive. Whenever you put your car in drive, the car moves forward and goes through the car gears by itself.

How To Drive An Automatic Car Gears?

Now let’s see how you can drive an automatic car gears. Unlike a manual transmission car, automatics are dead easy to drive. The car basically tells everything you need to know when it comes to driving it.

The moment you get inside will tell you to place your foot on the brake and start the engine. Then after the engine is started and you are holding the brake you can select drive, neutral, or reverse. Once the gear is selected, you can apply the foot on the throttle and the car moves in the direction you desire.

Whenever you come to a stop, you just apply the foot on the brake and the car stops. Remove the foot of the brake the car moves. Automatic car gears are so beginner-friendly like nothing else on the road.

Automatic Transmission Pros & Cons

Now let’s discuss more the pros and cons of running automatic car gears also known as automatic transmission.

The pros of running a transmission are the simplicity of use and the comfort. When driving an automatic transmission you basically forget about shifting gears and you just enjoy and relax your comfortable driving. There is no clutch pedal to press and move the gear stick into a certain gear. Meaning that this type of transmission is extremely beginner-friendly and driving it is a breeze.

Also, modern automatics are very fuel-efficient and will save you a ton of fuel. Especially if you go for a 9 or 10-speed that some cars have.

But sadly, there are some cons when it comes to automatics. These are the complexity of these transmissions and the maintenance they require. All this costs money. A ton more money in comparison to manual transmissions. Repairs could easily cost you $1,000 or more. Regular service is about $500 to change the filters and fluids. Overall, an expensive product in the long term. But which is best when it comes to manual car gears vs automatic? That’s what we will cover next.

What Is Better, Manual VS Automatic Car Gears?

Now let’s sum up things and see what is better when it comes to the manual car gears or the automatics.

The answer for this questing really depends much on how much you are determined to get one of these transmissions and the purpose you need it.

If you want a transmission that will fully immerse you and make you feel like you are one with your car, then going for a manual transmission will be the way to go. On the other hand, if you want something really comfortable that will make you forget about the trouble in your life and enjoy your driving more, especially on long distances then going for an automatic will be the best.

In addition to this, you should always plan your purchases based on the budget you have. Manuals are cheaper to purchase if they are not on a rare car like on a BMW M3 for example. Their low purchase price makes them really attractive and honestly, you should go for it if you are only doing short trips.

If not, you should definitely opt for an automatic because if you drive a manual car for the whole day, your foot will get soar pretty quickly. Now, since we covered everything worth covering, let’s conclude this article about car gears.

Automatic Transmission Gear Selector Facts:

  1. The letters on an automatic transmission gear selector stand for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Low, commonly known as PRNDL or “prindle”.
  2. Drive covers all the forward gears and is the only transmission position most people use for forward movement.
  3. Low (L) setting holds the transmission in lower gears than Drive for providing engine braking to descend steep hills, but it doesn’t limit the transmission to one gear.
  4. S could be a Sport setting in which the transmission behaves similarly, downshifting sooner when you open the throttle to pass and holding lower gears longer for sustained acceleration.
  5. Modern cars typically have just an L or S at the end of their PRND.
  6. In some vehicles, switching the lever from D to the highest number means locking out the two highest gears, not one.
  7. The plus and minus positions on a separate gate alongside the gear stick and/or by the presence of shift paddles or buttons on the steering wheel indicate the automatic transmissions with manual modes.
  8. In some cases, manual mode means only the driver can shift, but in some cases, they just lock out higher gears like the number position did in PRND321.
  9. Different driving modes offer different ways to maximize performance or reduce stress on the transmission, typically through dedicated buttons rather than the stick.
  10. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual for more information on transmission gear selector options and other ways to maximize vehicle performance.

Conclusion To Car Gears

In this article, we covered quite a bit when it comes to car gears. First, we learned what gears are and how you can differentiate between real gears that are inside of the transmission and a gear selection.

Then we learned everything when it comes to manual and automatic transmissions. First, we learned what are they and the whole concept behind them. Then we learned how they work and also how you can drive one. We covered the pros and cons for each of these two types of transmissions.

We finally compared the two and gave our final verdict when it comes to purchasing one. And the decision greatly depends on your needs and the overall budget that you have for purchase and maintenance.

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