How Much Do You Know About Manual and Automatic Transmissions?

By: Annette
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Gear up for a great challenge with this transmission quiz!

A transmission is literally the part of your car that makes it go vroom. A transmission is a series of gears that transfer power from one part of the car to another. Although transmissions can vary according to the country, here in the US, a transmission refers to the gearbox (it encompasses the entire drivetrain in the UK). The point behind a transmission is to facilitate the changing of gears as the speed of the vehicle increases.

With a manual transmission, the driver shifts gears.. umm... manually, and with an automatic transmission, the gears are switched... you guessed it... automatically. Although the most familiar use for transmissions is in the automobile, transmissions may be found in other equipment and even wind turbines. Interestingly, only North America and Australia are the areas with the highest number of automatic transmissions, with most other countries counting vehicles with manual transmissions in higher numbers. In fact, many countries require individuals to learn and be tested on the operation of a vehicle with a manual transmission.

But, you're a transmission aficionado, so you knew all that, right?

Get ready to drive your way through this quiz. Glove up, put it in gear, and let's roll.

The transmission is a system of parts that connects the engine to the ________.

The transmission is a car is the system of parts that connects the engine to the wheels. There are two types of transmission: automatic and manual.

What is torque?

Torque is turning force. Proper torque is created by the engine when it's within a narrow range of engine speeds. Torque is related to the rates at which the crankshaft​ is turning.

The transmission helps the engine to create torque at ______.

Simply put, the transmission helps the engine to create proper torque at varying speed. The transmission has an output shaft that is adjusted to turn the wheels at the right speed.

Which transmission is simpler?

A manual transmission is much simpler than an automatic transmission. It consists of a system of interlocking gear wheels.

Manual transmissions allow the driver to choose one of several _______ between the input and output shafts of the transmission.

It may seem complicated, but it's not. With the lever, you're choosing what ratio of speed is best between the input and output shafts of the transmission. This allows you to control the car at various speeds.

What is the name of the ratios of speed in a manual transmission?

The ratios of speed that drive the transmission are called gears. Your car has a first gear, second gear, etc. First gear gives the lowest output speed.

What provides for smooth shifting?

The clutch is what gives you smooth shifting from one gear to the next. The clutch disengages the engine from the transmission.

What's the most common clutch?

The dry single disk clutch is the most common kind of clutch that you'll find. It has a steel disk with a friction lining. This is flanked by a flywheel on the engine shaft and pressure plate on the input shaft of the transmission.

Which transmission is most popular today?

The automatic transmission has been gaining in popularity over the years. Today, it's the most popular transmission.

Which transmission is easier to use?

Although manual transmissions are simpler in design, automatic transmissions are easier to use. Manual transmissions aren't difficult to use, they're still something that must be learned through practice.

Which transmission is easier on a steep hill?

Automatic transmissions are definitely better for steep, hilly areas. Less experienced drivers find these driving conditions intimidating with a manual transmission.

Which is less expensive?

By far, manual transmissions are less expensive. A manual transmission will cost you roughly $1,000 less than an automatic of the same model.

Which requires less maintenance?

You guessed it. Manual transmissions cost much less to maintain. Maintenance and repairs are not as frequent and are less costly. Just pray that the clutch doesn't die on you.

Which has better fuel efficiency?

Manual cars have better fuel efficiency than their automatic cousins. Manual cars may save drivers roughly 5% to 15% each year, although automatics are improving all the time.

Which car stalls more?

Unfortunately, manual cars stall more than automatic cars. Stalling only occurs on an automatic car if there are mechanical problems going on.

Which car is better in heavy traffic?

An automatic car is definitely better in heavy traffic. The effort of starting and stopping all the time with a manual car can be a real chore.

Which cars get stolen more often?

By far, automatic cars are stolen more often than manual cars. Simply put: most criminals don't know how to drive a manual car.

Which car has better control?

Manual cars really do offer you better control of the vehicle. Sometimes, automatic transmissions will shift to too high of a gear and waste engine power.

Most normal cars have ____ forward gears.

Most normal cars have four to six forward gears and one reverse gear.

Race cars can have as many as _____ forward speeds.

Racing cars can have as many as nine forward speeds. That's a lot of gear shifting!

What kind of transmission holds all forward gear wheels in mesh?

A synchromesh transmission holds all gear wheels in mesh. This is used in most American cars with a manual transmission.

When was the automatic transmission introduced?

The automatic transmission was introduced in 1939. It was designed to select the optimum gear without the driver needing to do a thing.

Most automatic cars contain a _____ converter.

Most American cars with an automatic transmission contain a torque converter.This converter is responsible for transmitting the engine's power to the transmission by use of hydraulic fluid.

Automatic transmissions have _____ gears.

Most automatic cars in America have planetary gears. They also have a clutch plate to create a direct connection between the transmission​ and the engine.

The performance of automatic transmissions has been enhanced by what?

Microprocessor-controlled electronic sensors have been added to most automatic transmissions, enhancing performance even further. The processor collects data about the performance​ of your car and uses this to control the changing of gears.

What is the name for an automatic transmission​ with added manual-shift mode?

The manumatic transmission is an automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode option. This is typically a floor-mounted shifter which gives you an alternative selector path by use of buttons on the steering wheel.

What is CVT?

The continuously variable transmission, or CVT, uses a belt connecting two variable-diameter pulleys. These provide an unlimited number of ratio changes. This kind of transmission offers better fuel efficiency.

What is the car of choice in Europe?

Although Americans prefer automatic cars, the car of choice in Europe is definitely manual. It's also popular in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

What's the most popular car in Canada?

Like the U.S., Canada prefers automatic cars. In fact, only about 9% of Canadian cars have a manual transmission.

What percentage of cars in Japan are manual?

Roughly 80% of the cars in both Japan and Europe are manual. That's a huge difference from the U.S., for sure. But how do they eat and drive at the same time?

What's happening to the gap between automatic and manual car performance?

The gap between the performance of these two cars is actually getting narrower. With improvements in technology, the performance of automatic cars continues​ to improve.

What is the typical price of clutch repair?

Even though manual cars are cheaper to maintain, clutch repair can cost you $500 to $1,000 or more. Be nice to your clutch!

Higher gears _____ power.

Higher gears actually reduce power while increasing speed. This allows the car to properly distribute power and speed for different situations.

Approximately what percentage of cars in the U.S. are built with a manual transmission?

Actually, less than 4% of cars in the U.S. are built with a manual transmission. Does that mean that automatic is better? Not necessarily.

What do some experts believe is the main reason for the popularity of the automatic car in the U.S.?

Theorists believe that the sheer volume of traffic is what makes the automatic transmission car so popular in the U.S. No one wants to be stuck in traffic with a manual.

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