True or False: Manual and Automatic Transmissions Edition


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Christina Reichl Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

About This Quiz

There is nothing quite like buying a new car, is there? And it can be stressful. We're not talking about finances, here. No, it's the other aspects. Things like what color are you going to go for? Where will you get it insured? Will it be diesel-powered or driven by gasoline/

But there is one other aspect that we often overlook. And that is whether you want an automatic transmission or a vehicle that has a stick shift. And believe it or not, where you are born could seriously influence your decisions! But let's leave that for the quiz.

Whatever type you choose, be it automatic or manual, just know that these pieces of mechanical ingenuity are incredibly intricate. Just think about an automatic transmission, for instance. At any time, it has to gauge the speed you are traveling, how much accelerator you are applying and other factors to determine the best gear for your vehicle at that time.

So when things go wrong, both in automatic or manual transmission vehicles, it can hit you in the back pocket. But let's get back to the task at hand. Let's see just how much you know about both automatic and manual transmission cars in this true or false quiz.

True or false? A rev counter or tachometer is important on a manual shift car as it stops over- revving.

In a manual transmission vehicle, a tachometer is of a massive importance, especially if you intend to rev the motor to the redline often. The tachometer is just a simple way for the driver to see when he should shift gears.


True or false? Straps found in a transmission are called selecto bands.

Made from steel, timing bands are straps that are found in the transmission on drums within it. These drums will rotate when the band is not pressed against it to grip it. Stopping their rotating means components within the transmission interact in different ways, depending on what the driver is doing in terms of gear selection.


True or false? The early manual gearboxes, where timing was required to slide the gear in at the right time according to the engine speed were called unsynchronized gearboxes.

Early manual transmission systems required excellent timing and a knowledge of how fast the engine was rotating to select the correct gear. Because no clutch was involved to disengage the engine, these types of manual transmissions were referred to as unsynchronized transmissions.


True or false? Henry Ford invented the first modern gearbox.

The first modern manual gearbox was invented by two Frenchmen, Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor. Their first unit was a three-speed manual transmission, and many of their design ideas are still used today.


True or false? The type of automatic transmission found in most vehicles is called hydraulic automatic transmission.

Most automatic transmissions found on vehicles today are of a hydraulic nature. This means gear changes are achieved by using hydraulics to unlock and lock a system of gears, commonly known as planetary gears.


True or false? The central gear in the planetary gear system is called moon gear

The sun gear is the central gear in the planetary gear system in the transmission. It is tasked with spinning the other gears in the planetary gear system.


True or false? The transmission system in the car is cooled down by the climate control system.

With so many moving parts, spinning gears, all moving and interlinking, it is natural that an automatic transmission system will overheat. Luckily, it is kept from overheating by using an existing cooling system found on the vehicle already, the engine cooling system.


True or false? The first gearboxes were seen in 1950.

Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor introduced their first manual transmission in 1894. It was a simple three-speed gearbox. It had no clutch and gears would carefully be selected when the motor was running at the correct speed for that gear.


True or false? Another word for an automatic transmission is self-shifting transmission.

We know it mainly as the automatic transmission, but it also has many other names. Perhaps the second most popular is self-shifting transmission but other names include auto-shifting transmission and 6-speed automatic (substitute the numeral for the number of gears the vehicle has).


True or false? The ring gear in a transmission moves torque from the secondary shaft through the differential.

The ring gear is the large outer gear in the planetary gear system in the transmission. It is tasked with moving the torque from the secondary shaft through to the differential.


True or false? The collar connects the gears to the driveshaft.

The collar is a vital part of a manual transmission. It will shift left or right along a shaft to select and engage the gear as the driver chooses them using the gear shift.


True or false? Alfred Horner Munro was responsible for the first automatic gearbox.

We have Alfred Horner Munro to thank for the invention of the first automatic gearbox. A resident of Regina in the Saskatchewan province of Canada, Munro came up with his design in 1921 and by 1923 had patented it.


True or false? 50% of the vehicles sold in the United States have automatic transmissions.

Yes, that is true and a surprisingly high number if you think about it. Why? Well, it just seems that Americans love their automatic transmission vehicles over their stick shift counterparts. The fact that pickups are very popular in the States (and many of these have automatic transmissions) must surely boost the figure somewhat as well.


True or false? A pump directs hydraulic fluid to the valves in an automatic transmission vehicle.

In automatic transmissions, the valve body is vitally important. It helps direct hydraulic fluid to valves in the transmission that in turn engage the appropriate band servo or clutch pack needed at that time.


True or false? A torque converter keeps the engine of an automatic transmission car running while the car stands still.

Found in cars with automatic transmissions, a torque converter fulfills the same role as a clutch in a manual transmission car. Essentially, it keeps the engine turning over when the vehicle comes to a halt.


True or false? A transmission transfers the power created by the engine to the pistons.

Without a transmission system, be it manual or automatic, your car would simply not move, no matter how much power it generates. The transmission system on a car is tasked with turning the power created by the engine into a forward (or reverse) motion in the wheels. And how it does that is pretty complicated!


True or false? The planetary gear is responsible for producing various gear ratios.

A crucial part of the transmission, the planetary gear set helps to make all the various ratios that the gears in the transmission can produce. It consists of the sun, planetary and ring gears.


True or false? In transmissions, the term "CVT" means continuously variable transmission.

In a continuously variable transmission, the gearbox is able to select from any number of gear ratios. In fact, the options are practically infinite. This allows it to select the most effective gear for any situation.


True or false? A common problem with the clutch system in manual transmissions is that can catch fire.

Because a clutch is employed so often and drivers will sometimes "ride" it, particularly while standing still at a traffic light instead of engaging the brake and putting the car in neutral, it will wear out over time. A worn clutch will start to slip and not engage as it should, causing higher revving as you gear up.


True or false? Most modern automatic cars have around six gears.

Notice that in this question, we did say MOST modern cars. Why? Well, it can vary. Although most modern automatic transmission cars have six gears available, some are different. Take the Chrysler 200, which is a 9-speed. In the past, many automatic transmission cars had a four-speed transmission.


True or false? Some manual transmission vehicles make use of a finger shifter to select gears.

A finger shift allows a driver to change gear with the mere movement of their finger. An example of this is on buses in Japan where the system has been used on heavy-duty buses since 1983.


True or false? When General Motors introduced its first automatic transmission, it was called the Hydra-Matic.

General Motors decided that a catchy name would be the best way to market their new automatic transmission system. They called it the "Hydra-Matic" and you can even hear it mentioned in the classic song "Greased Lightning" from the hit movie, "Grease".


True or false? Most modern vehicles are front-engine, front-wheel drive

Over the years, cars have had many different engine positions and drivetrain configurations. Think of the muscle cars of the 1960s - people loved how they had massive engines located in the front of the car but that all that power was transferred to the rear wheels, allowing drivers to light up the tires and lay down some rubber. Most modern cars, however, are front engined, front-wheel drive cars.


True or false? Stick shift is another name for a manual gearbox.

You won't find many vehicle aficionados in the United States saying they bought a manual transmission car. To Americans, it simply is called a stick shift. And it's easy to see how they got to this name ... you use a stick to shift!


True or false? Sensors track speed, the throttle position and other important information to decide on the best shift points in an automatic transmission.

In modern automatic transmission systems, sensors on the engine and within the transmission itself track speed, the position of the throttle, the speed of the engine and other factors to control shift points.


True or false? A Ford model from 1950 was the first to have an automatic clutch.

The idea for the first hydraulic-based automatic transmissions was sold to General Motors by two Brazilian engineers, José Braz Araripe and Fernando Lehly Lemos. GM then introduced this new radical design for the first time in Oldsmobile models in 1940.


True or false? In an automatic transmission vehicle, driving too fast will damage the gears.

Although an automatic transmission will change the gears for you, when towing a large load, many drivers prefer to override the system and pick the gear they think is best by themselves. If they know what they are doing, then it's all fine, but inexperienced drivers often pick the wrong gear which can damage the whole transmission system.


True or false? Only 5% of cars sold in Europe are manual transmission.

Unlike in America where the figure is the same but in the opposite direction, Europeans seem to love a manual transmission car over an automatic transmission one. Also, pickups are not huge in Europe as in the states, so there is a large portion of automatic transmission vehicles that just aren't sold over the pond.


True or false? 1st gear produces a ratio of 1 to 1.

In an automatic transmission, a ratio of 1-1 is achieved when the vehicle is shifted into third gear. It means the output shaft as well as the as the input shaft both turn at the same time and together.


True or false? Modern vehicles using a manual gearbox are said to have a synchronized transmission.

It's pretty complex and impossible to explain in a few sentences, but in essence, a clutch allows the right gear to be selected without having to worrying about adjusting the speed of the engine to allow the gears to mesh. This is called a synchronized transmission.


True or false? A manual car has an extra pedal in the cabin called the clutch pedal.

That's right, in a car with a manual transmission, you will find an extra pedal in the cabin at the driver's feet. In a left-hand drive car, this pedal is found on the right of the brake pedal (middle) and accelerator pedal (far left). The clutch pedal is engaged when the driver wants to change gears.


True or false? An oil pump moves transmission fluid through the gearbox.

Often considered to be the heart of the transmission system, the automatic transmission pump moves hydraulic fluid through the gearing system to ensure it operates efficiently.


True or false? The first automatic transmission was only invented in 1953?

Although motor vehicles as we know them had been around since 1885, those early cars and models up to the 1920s were all manual gearbox vehicles. The first automatic transmission was invented in 1921.


True or false? An automatic transmission has more than one clutch.

True, automatic transmissions certainly have more than one clutch. In fact, they can have several. These clutches are tasked with both engaging and disengaging a specific set of planetary gears assigned to them and related to the speed the vehicle is doing and the correct gear it needs to be in based on that.


True or false? In an automatic transmission vehicle, you should leave it in "drive" when exiting the car.

When stopping a car with an automatic transmission, the vehicle should be placed in the park gear. This locks the transmissions output shaft and means the vehicle cannot move forward or backward.


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