Transmission Quiz

Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Transmission 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:
Differential
Belt
Clutch
The clutch connects the transmission to the engine. The input shaft of the transmission therefore turns at the same rpm as the engine.
Driveshaft

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What connects the gears to the drive shaft in a manual transmission?
Layshaft
Belt
Collar
The collar can slide left or right along the shaft to engage one of the gears.
Transaxle

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In a manual transmission, how does the collar engage a gear?
With magnets
With dog teeth
Dog teeth on the collar fit into holes on the sides of the gears to engage them.
With hydraulics
With friction

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What do manual transmissions in modern passenger cars use to eliminate the need for double clutching?
Elite motor oil
Synchronizers
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.
Equalizers
Motivators

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What two things do automatic transmissions lack that manual transmissions have?
Clutch pedal and gears
Clutch pedal and gear shift
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").
Clutch pedal and steering wheel
Clutch pedal and flywheel

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What creates the different gear ratios in an automatic transmission?
A series of four gears
Planetary gearset
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.
Planetary hydraulics
Output gearing

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In most automatic transmissions, which gear produces a 1:1 ratio?
Second gear
Third gear
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.
Fourth gear
Overdrive

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What feeds the transmission cooler and torque converter in an automatic transmission?
The sump
The governor
The static pump
The gear pump
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
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.
The gear pump
The sump
The ECM

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In an automatic transmission, the shift lever hooks up to the:
Throttle valve
Vacuum modulator
Manual valve
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.
Clutch

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"CVT" stands for:
Cyclical Velocity Terminator
Compact Vehicle Transmission
Connecting Vortex Turbine
Continuously Variable Transmission
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:
Transmission for race cars
Manual transmission
Automatic transmission
The continuously variable transmission is based on the automatic transmission. This type of transmission generally creates fewer emissions and gives a smooth ride.
Experimental transmission

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What does a tachometer do?
It keeps track of how fast the car has gone.
It's a gauge in the dashboard that shows what gear the car is in.
It's a gauge in the dashboard that shows the engine’s RPMs.
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.
It's a gauge that shows the temperature and level of transmission fluid.

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What is the "redline"?
The maximum RPM value above which the engine cannot go without exploding
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.
The light that tells passengers to put on their seat belts
A type of oil that makes the transmission faster
The fire barrier between the engine and the passenger compartment

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How does the redline relate to the transmission?
The redline is a measurement of the temperature of the transmission.
The redline tells the driver what gear the car is in.
The redline tells the driver when to change the transmission fluid.
The redline on the tachometer helps the driver know when to shift.
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?
Manual
CVT
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.
Automatic
Hydraulic

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What is the “H” that’s on top of many manual shift knobs?
It reminds the driver to "hold" in the clutch while in neutral.
It shows the shift pattern.
The “H” (or a similar shape) is a diagram that shows the driver where to move the lever for each gear.
It tells the driver where to put his or her "hand."
It's a classic mechanic's symbol for "transmission."

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Why is the CVT so common in hybrid cars?
It's operated by electricity.
it’s the cheapest.
It’s powered by hybrid batteries.
It offers better fuel economy.
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?
It goes backwards.
The clutch pedal falls off.
Nothing except a lot of noise
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
The transmission will be badly damaged.

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What happens if a four-wheel drive vehicle is towed?
Worn-out tires
Tire damage
Transmission damage
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.
Nothing. It's fine to do it.

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What kind of car usually needs a transmission cooler?
All cars
Hybrid cars
Tow vehicles
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.
Four-wheel-drive vehicles

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Should a transmission cooler be installed by a mechanic?
Yes, it needs a lot of special tools.
It really depends on the vehicle.
No, you should buy a car that already has one.
No, it’s easy to do at home if you have a bit of mechanical know-how.
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?
It won’t. They’re leak-proof.
The car won’t start.
There will be a puddle on the ground.
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!
The "check engine" light on the dash will light up.

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What color is a transmission fluid leak?
Blue
Red or brown
Fresh transmission fluid is red, but older fluid often has a brown tinge.
Red or purple
Bright green

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When was the concept of the continuously variable transmission first thought up?
More than 500 years ago
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.
Right before 1997, when the first Toyota Prius came out in Japan
Right before 1996, when the General Motors EV1 came out
Around 2010, when the Tesla Model S was being developed.

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What’s the recommended interval to change transmission fluid?
Never
At every oil change
Every couple of years
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.
Every 100,000 miles

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Do CVTs actually have a gearbox?
No, they have a pulley system.
Even though the term “gearbox” is sometimes used interchangeably with “transmission,” continuously variable transmissions actually use a pulley system instead.
No, the gears are on a grid instead of in a box.
Yes, they use standard gearboxes.
Yes, but they require the "double clutch" gearboxes.

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Why do automatic transmissions sometimes feel slow or sluggish?
It’s caused by a bad tachometer.
It’s caused by a bad clutch.
It’s caused by heavy engine load.
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.
It's caused by low temperatures.

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Do cars with automatic transmissions have a clutch?
No
Yes
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.
Yes, but only with an aftermarket performance kit
Only on high-performance hybrid vehicles

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Why do some people believe that manual transmissions are faster or provide better performance?
Lots of performance cars still have them
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.
They are faster.
They don't wear out as fast.
A human driver is always more efficient than an automatic transmission system.

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Porsche's PDK transmission and the Volkswagen Group's DSG transmission are examples of what type of technology?
Hydraulic shifters
Electric powertrain transmission
Hybrid transmission
Dual-clutch transmission
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.
True. The U.S. leads the world in manual transmissions.
True, but the gap is closing rapidly.
False. Europe just passed the U.S. for this type of vehicle.
False. Europe has a far higher percentage of manual transmission vehicles.
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?
The vehicle is noisy in neutral.
There's a grinding sound.
The vehicle is emitting a burning odor.
All the above
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...
Make a high, whining sound
Start to feel spongey or loose
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.
Start leaking fluid
Give no symptoms — it will just stop working

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What is a fringe benefit of driving a vehicle with a manual transmission?
Better fuel economy
They are easier to maintain
They are a theft deterrent.
All the above
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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