What Transmission Is In My Car? Everything You Need to Know this 2020

... Credit :
Jane Taylor in Business & Finance

Last updated: 21 January 2020, 07:34 GMT

Have you ever wondered, "What transmission is in my car?" You would not be the only one wondering. A car's transmission is one of the​ most complicated parts of a vehicle. Your car's transmission is also one of the most misunderstood parts as well.

The transmission is an intricate assortment of components such as the input shaft, countershaft, output shaft, driver gears, idle gear, gear shifter, and the clutch.

In recent years transmissions have only gotten more sophisticated and complicated thanks to technology. These are no longer just mechanical pieces of equipment but are hybrids containing advanced computers.

If you are looking to answer the often-asked question, “What transmission is in my car?” then you will find an answer in our definitive guide to car transmissions.

Different Kinds of Transmissions

When you ask most people what kinds of transmissions exist, they will tell you that there are automatic and manual transmissions. However, there are actually over 200 different kinds of transmissions! While you could very broadly categorize transmissions as being either automatic or manual, many variations deserve to be named.

If you have a clutch pedal, you can be sure you have a manual transmission. The clutch connects and disconnects a transmission to the engine. All the work of changing the gears in the transmission is up to you to do. 

The types of transmissions in cars change from year to year and from model to model in some cases. If you know what your car's transmission is, it will help you service it better. It will also help you discover what kind of transmission you feel most comfortable driving.

Beyond the categorization of transmissions as either being automatic or manual, we can expand our scope. We can place transmissions into seven categories, namely automatic, manual, automated manual, continuously variable, dual-clutch, direct shift gearbox, and Tiptronic.

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Automatic Transmission

This transmission type is also known as torque converter automatic transmission. You will find this type in most cars on the road today. The mechanism it uses is a hydraulic fluid coupling or a torque converter.

This is what changes the gears instead of a clutch like in a manual transmission.  Changing gears is smooth and precise.

Manual Transmission

With this type of transmission, you are responsible for changing the gears yourself. You do this using a gear selector and clutch. Other names for this type are “stick shift” and “standard” transmission.

Cars with this type of transmission are more fun to drive than those with automatic transmission.

Automated Manual Transmission

This transmission type is similar to a manual transmission because you still use a manual clutch. The difference is that instead of using a foot pedal, there are hydraulic, electronic, or pneumatic controls that do the work for you.

This is a semi-automatic transmission that simulates manual gear usage.

Continuously Variable Transmission

With this type of transmission, there are belts, sensors, and pulleys instead of the traditional steel gears. The gears shift based on how many RPMs a car has at any given moment.

There are no pauses for gear changes, unlike with a manual transmission. You get to maximize fuel efficiency, but the engine will be louder than usual.

Dual-Clutch Transmission

This transmission is a combination of both manual and automatic transmissions. There is a noticeable lack of a torque converter. This has been replaced by two separate shafts that have their clutches.

 One clutch operates the odd-numbered gears whereas the other worked the even-numbered ones. A DCT is noisy and shifts gears roughly.

Direct Shift Gearbox

This is a type of transmission you are most likely to see in high-end luxury cars. It borrows elements from the dual-clutch transmission, using two clutches.

These clutches alternate when they disengage when shifting the gears. You can experience fast gear changing and smooth acceleration. The fuel efficiency is higher than that of manual transmissions.

Tiptronic Transmission

This is a transmission type you will often see in sports cars. Sometimes called a manumatic, this type of transmission was developed by Porsche back in the 1990s. It operates similarly to a manual transmission, but instead of a clutch foot pedal, there is a torque converter. You have the option of using an either manual or automatic transmission. 

If you are still unsure what type of transmission a car has, you can always either look in the owner's manual or open up the hood of the vehicle. Most cars will have a sticker under the hood, which provides all the information you need related to the transmission.

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There is also a white card tucked away in the driver's side door. This card details specific information which includes data about the car's transmission. You can speak with your local car dealership or auto parts retailer to find out more information about the transmission type referred to on this white card.

There is another way to discern what type of transmission a car has. You will have to look under the hood and locate the oil pan. Different kinds of car manufacturers design their oil pans in different ways depending on what type of transmission the car has. An excellent visual aid to keep in mind is that cars with automatic transmissions have an oil pan resembling the state of New Mexico. 

If you are still scratching your head over the type of transmission a car has, you can always look it up by using the vehicle identification number, or VIN. You may have to go into a center that can input this number into their computer system to pull up the identifying information you are looking for.

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Wrapping Up

You now know what the different kinds of transmissions are for automobiles. You should have a clear answer to the question, “What transmission is in my car?”


There are several categories beyond the general manual and automatic, with hundreds of more variations stemming from them. Having this knowledge will allow you to choose the transmission type you feel most aligned with.

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