Cars come in all shapes and sizes. While the way that they work is essentially the same across the industry, the methods used to achieve the main objective – traction and forward motion – vary considerably. If you want to convert the power of your car's engine into these results, you need a way to convert torque into activity, and this is where the gearbox comes in. It pays to know exactly what type of configuration you have, in case you run into any problems.
Why Automatics Are Popular
Most cars come equipped with automatic gearboxes today, which make it much easier for the driver to focus on the road ahead rather than how to propel the vehicle forward. There are a number of different types of automatic gearbox.
The traditional type is fitted with a crucial component known as a torque converter. It replaces the conventional clutch in a manual gearbox and balances the flow of hydraulic fluid carefully in order to convert the power of the engine into a driving force. It's linked to the car's computer to decide exactly when a change should be made. This is really just a base model though, and this older design typically changes gear a lot more slowly than its successors, leading to lower fuel efficiency.
Speed and Efficiency
An upgrade to this situation is the dual clutch gearbox. This is able to act a lot more quickly as two different clutches are assigned to different gears. One clutch will handle "odd" gears and the other one will handle "even" ones. The computer is therefore able to line up the clutch to work on its "next" gear far more quickly, while the other clutch is doing the same thing. This means that the computer can change gears far more quickly than a human being. This system leads to better fuel efficiency.
Even More Complex
The latest type of gearbox is known as a "multi-tronic" or to be more long-winded, continuously variable transmission. This is quite revolutionary as it does not have the usual cogs within the gearbox but pairs of cones which are arranged in between the engine and driving wheels. It's quite a complex system involving a driving belt and a variation in the angle of the individual cones, but it's infinitely variable. The car's engine can spin and produce power very efficiently and constantly, while the vehicle is doing any speed. It can be rather off-putting if you have never heard this combination in action before, however, because the engine note stays at a constant level, instead of going up and down as it would when conventionally changing gears.
Due to the complexity of these continuously evolving gearboxes it's best to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic to diagnose it and perform any necessary repairs.