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Fuel Economy Technology Systems: Automatic Transmission

Traditional transmissions have two major categories, manual(standard) and automatic. Manual transmissions have the driver change the gears, whereas automatics shift on their own without driver input. Manual transmissions have always been known for their faster acceleration and better fuel economy. Well to much surprise, today's automatic transmission outperforms the manual transmission on almost all fronts. It gets consistently better fuel economy, has faster acceleration, and even smoother shifts than ever before. If that’s not enough, many automatic transmissions can also be manually shifted if you want to reminisce about the good old days every now and then. For this reason, you may have noticed the decline in manual transmissions. With the new high-tech automatics there can be special considerations for repairers.

It is common for most modern automatic transmissions to have 8, 9, or even 10 gears. More gears translate to better fuel economy and smoother shifts. Many automatics don’t even feel like they are shifting because they are so smooth. There is also a different class of automatic transmissions called a continuously variable transmission (CVT). CVTs do not have gears so they never shift. They simply have a belt and pully system that can change the size of the pully to simulate a gear change.

Computers can also be credited with helping the transmission perform at the top of its capabilities. Perfectly timed shifts take away much of the friction that slowed down the old models. However, computers can be sensitive to collisions and disruption in the power supply. It is important to scan, diagnose, and repair if there are transmission problems after a collision. Depending on the vehicle, a calibration or learn procedure may be required after the battery is reconnected.

The main problem with this generation of transmissions is the complexity of them. It can be extremely difficult to service them, and some may not even be able to be serviced. This complexity makes it even more important to reference the OEM repair information. Such a hi-tech system can easily be damaged by incorrect procedures.

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