Transmission Quiz

AUTO

By: Staff

6 Min Quiz

Image: kali9/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

"Varoom! Varoom!" Without your transmission, that's about all your car would do while you sit idle in your driveway. Your transmission is made up of the parts within your vehicle that connect the engine to the wheels. It allows for your engine and wheels to move safely under the proper amount of torque and with variable speeds. In short, that number you love to read about with sporty new cars, the 0-to-60 mph time? You can thank your transmission for speeding up the process.

In the early years of the 21st century, nearly half the cars on the market were available in both manual and automatic transmission; now, that number is rapidly decreasing. And you manual lovers should know you only account for about three percent of the drivers out on the road in the last decade. To understand your transmission, how it works and that it even exists is something of specialty these days. If you can answer questions such as, "what connects the gears to the drive shaft?" or what a "CVT" or the "clutch pedal" is, it means you are among a select group when it comes to transmission knowledge.

So, let's rev up your transmission knowledge and get your wheels in motion. The questions on this quiz will get your gears moving you from 0 to 60 in three seconds flat so it's time to go! 

A manual transmission is connected to the engine through the:

The clutch connects the transmission to the engine. The input shaft of the transmission therefore turns at the same rpm as the engine.

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What connects the gears to the drive shaft in a manual transmission?

The collar can slide left or right along the shaft to engage one of the gears.

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In a manual transmission, how does the collar engage a gear?

Dog teeth on the collar fit into holes on the sides of the gears to engage them.

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What do manual transmissions in modern passenger cars use to eliminate the need for double clutching?

A synchronizer's purpose is to allow the collar and the gear to make frictional contact before the dog teeth make contact. This lets the collar and the gear synchronize their speeds before the teeth need to engage.

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What two things do automatic transmissions lack that manual transmissions have?

An automatic transmission lacks a clutch pedal and gear shift. Once you put the transmission into drive, the car does everything else for you (thus, "automatic").

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What creates the different gear ratios in an automatic transmission?

As opposed to a manual transmission that has many different sets of gears, an automatic transmission's planetary gearset — also known as epicyclic gearing — enables the same set of gears to produce all the different ratios.

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In most automatic transmissions, which gear produces a 1:1 ratio?

Most automatic transmissions have a 1:1 ratio in third gear. It means that the drive shaft (engine) is spinning three times for every one tire rotation.

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What feeds the transmission cooler and torque converter in an automatic transmission?

Located in the cover of the transmission, the gear pump feeds the transmission cooler and the torque converter. It also draws fluid from a sump in the bottom of the transmission through displacement and feeds it to the hydraulic system.

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What tells the automatic transmission how fast the car is going?

The governor is a valve that is connected to the output, so the faster the car moves, the faster the governor spins, which opens it and raises the pressure of the fluid flowing through it.

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In an automatic transmission, the shift lever hooks up to the:

The manual valve is what the shift lever hooks up to. Depending on which gear is selected, the manual valve feeds hydraulic circuits that inhibit certain gears.

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"CVT" stands for:

A continuously variable transmission is a type of transmission with nearly infinite gear ratios. This type of device is also called a shiftless transmission, a stepless transmission or a pulley transmission.

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A continuously variable transmission is a type of:

The continuously variable transmission is based on the automatic transmission. This type of transmission generally creates fewer emissions and gives a smooth ride.

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What does a tachometer do?

The tachometer is a gauge on the dashboard that tells the driver how fast the engine is moving, measured in RPMs, which measure how many times the engine's crankshaft is rotating each minute.

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What is the "redline"?

The redline, which is usually illustrated on the tachometer by, well, a red line, tells the driver when the engine is moving so fast it is at risk of damage.

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How does the redline relate to the transmission?

If the tachometer’s needle approaches the redline, the driver should change to the next gear to reduce the engine’s speed. Higher gears result in lower RPM (until the engine is near its maximum output).

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What type of modern transmission is generally best for fuel economy?

Though manual transmissions were traditionally the most efficient, the latest CVTs are helping auto manufacturers boost their fuel economy numbers by allowing a limitless number of gear ratios so the transmission can always be a peak efficiency.

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What is the “H” that’s on top of many manual shift knobs?

The “H” (or a similar shape) is a diagram that shows the driver where to move the lever for each gear.

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Why is the CVT so common in hybrid cars?

The CVT is designed to help the engine run as efficiently as possible, which maximizes fuel economy better than a manual or a regular automatic. This allows the vehicle to get the maximum output out of the battery.

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If you shift a manual transmission into reverse while the car’s going forward, what happens?

Since the reverse gear moves in a different direction than the other gears, the dog teeth won’t engage, and the car can’t go into reverse. It would be like shifting the car into neutral

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What happens if a four-wheel drive vehicle is towed?

Towing a vehicle by its drive wheels will damage the transmission, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle has nothing BUT drive wheels. If a four-wheel-drive car or truck is towed with wheels on the ground, even in neutral, it will damage the transmission. Towing can be done on a flatbed truck or trailer.

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What kind of car usually needs a transmission cooler?

In most vehicles, the transmission fluid is enough to keep the transmission from overheating. The transmissions in tow vehicles work extra hard, however, and a transmission cooler helps it perform at its best.

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Should a transmission cooler be installed by a mechanic?

Transmission coolers usually come in kits with everything a do-it-yourselfer needs to perform the installation, and there's plenty of information online to walk you through the process.

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How do you know if your transmission fluid is leaking?

A leak from the transmission will leave a slick puddle underneath the front middle section of the car. Don't put off repairs for this vital part of your vehicle!

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What color is a transmission fluid leak?

Fresh transmission fluid is red, but older fluid often has a brown tinge.

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When was the concept of the continuously variable transmission first thought up?

The CVT was first conceptualized more than 500 years ago by none other than Leonardo da Vinci, but it took a long time for engineers to actually make it cost-effective and efficient.

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What’s the recommended interval to change transmission fluid?

Transmission fluid should be kept fresh for best performance, which means changing it every two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. If the vehicle is used for towing, the fluid may need to be changed more often.

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Do CVTs actually have a gearbox?

Even though the term “gearbox” is sometimes used interchangeably with “transmission,” continuously variable transmissions actually use a pulley system instead.

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Why do automatic transmissions sometimes feel slow or sluggish?

When a car is accelerating hard or under heavy throttle, the automatic transmission can have a hard time keeping up and can feel slow or sluggish.

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Do cars with automatic transmissions have a clutch?

Even though the driver doesn’t need an extra pedal to operate the clutch, it’s still an important part of an automatic transmission car.

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Why do some people believe that manual transmissions are faster or provide better performance?

Manual transmissions tend to be preferred by people who drive sports cars, so a higher percentage of sports cars offer manuals, which in turn makes some people believe they’re better.

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Porsche's PDK transmission and the Volkswagen Group's DSG transmission are examples of what type of technology?

A Dual-clutch transmission uses two separate clutches for even and odd gears. Basically, it's two separate manual transmissions working together. It can be used in an automatic mode, or have drivers manually shift in a semi-automatic mode.

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True or false: The U.S. has a larger percentage of manual transmission vehicles than Europe.

Although automatic transmissions are gaining ground in every market, Europe and Japan have far more vehicles with manual transmissions than the U.S. In 2016, more than 80% of vehicles were manuals in Europe and Japan; in the U.S., the number is closer to 4%.

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Which of these is a symptom of a failing transmission?

Don't ignore the signs of a transmission in distress! The difference between a repair and a replacement can hit you hard in the wallet, so be aware of any warning signs.

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When a clutch is failing, it will...

The clutch will give you plenty of signs that it's starting to show its age. It can feel spongey, it might pulsate or it could even remain stuck to the floor. Basically, when it starts acting differently, it's time to take it into the shop. It might just need adjusting or it could be time for a replacement.

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What is a fringe benefit of driving a vehicle with a manual transmission?

Besides being easier to maintain and getting better gas mileage (although automatic transmission technology is narrowing this gap), they are also a deterrent to theft because not all thieves can drive a stick. Also, they can be more fun to drive!

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