Image showing manual transmission

Types of Automatic Transmission

Automatic Transmission has taken India by storm as more people relish the ease of driving that is provided by it. According to industry estimates 17.3% of the vehicles sold in India in 2019 had automatic transmissions, this is a staggering increase when compared to the year 2011 where the market for auto transmissions hovered at just 1.4%. While manual transmission still reigns in India due to its affordability, its use, however, has dwindled in many countries. One of the main reasons why automatic transmission is fast gaining ground in India is the ease of driving it provides, the absence of gears and a clutch not only makes learning driving easier but also quicker. While there is only one type of manual gearbox, there are many kinds of auto transmissions available in the market and each has its advantages. Let’s detail them for you.

Torque Converter

Image showintg a torque converter transmission

The torque converter is a feat of engineering and the oldest kind of automatic transmission. A torque converter eliminates the use of a clutch and uses two turbines, one connected to the engine and one to the transmission. By the means of fluid in between both the turbines power is transferred from the engine turbine to the transmission turbine. Torque converters are as efficient as their manual counterparts, however, they are on the expensive side. Cars like Ford EcoSport, Mahindra Thar, Tata Safari and Kia Seltos have the torque converter transmission in them.

Advantages

  • Convenience – With the elimination of clutch and gears a torque converter gives the user the ease of driving and hassle free starting and stopping of the vehicle.
  • Torque Multiplication – Torque converters give loads of torque at the start, meaning you can accelerate faster and smoother.
  • Infinite Clutch Slippage – In manual clutch slippage can burn the clutch to no use but but not so in a torque converter, that can slip almost indefinitely to a point without damage.
  • Cooler Transmission – Due to the fluid that encompasses the torque converter’s moving parts, transmission heating is decreased.

Automated Manual Transmission – AMT

Image showintg an AMT transmission

Automated Manual Transmission or AMT is an automatic transmission that uses an actuator and an onboard computer to determine which gear to shift at which engine speed. With AMTs there is a selector stick which you will have to use to select the drive mode. Once engaged, sit back, relax and drive, the AMT will push the clutch and shift gears for you. The AMT is fairly smooth, however, you might feel a slight jerk when the gears change automatically during up and downshifting. The AMT is an affordable transmission system and can be found on cars like Tata Nexon, Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, Hyundai Grand i10 Nios and many others.

Advantages

  • Driving Comfort – The gears are being automatically changed without your intervention.
  • Efficiency – Since the onboard computer predicts the accurate time for the gear change as per engine speed, you get good fuel economy.
  • Manual Mode – Some AMTs also have a manual mode, so when required you can always use it if you feel that driving is becoming too easy. Unlike the manual transmission you just need to nudge the gear lever up and down to upshift or downshift, all without a clutch.

Continuously Variable Transmission – CVT

Image showintg a CVT transmission

Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT is a newer type of automatic transmission. In this kind of transmission gear ratios change continuously depending on the speed of the car. This is done by two conical pulleys that are connected by a belt that changes diameters by moving together or apart depending on the gear ratio required by speed, weight, incline, and decline. CVT is very efficient as it tries to maintain constant engine revolutions per minute (RPM) while the vehicle moves at varying speeds.

Advantages

  • Very Efficient – CVT tries to maintain constant engine speed this in turn gives better fuel efficiency.
  • Smooth Ride Quality – Due to constant engine speed CVT gives a ride quality that is smooth and pleasing.

Dual Clutch Transmission/Direct Shift Gearbox – DCT/DSG

Image showing a DSG/DCT transmission

Direct Shift Gearbox or Dual Clutch Transmission uses two clutches to change gears automatically. Gears placed in odd and even groups of 1 3 5 and  2 4 6 are operated by two separate clutches. This gear arrangement prevents power loss from occurring unlike AMT and manual transmission as the gears are already engaged and ready to be deployed as soon as one gear rev is achieved. A DSG/DCT Transmission gives smooth and efficient performance and can be seen on high end cars.

Advantages

  • Faster Shifting – The arrangement of gears in a DSG transmission allows superfast and smooth shifting of gears.
  • Better Mileage – Fast and accurate shifting of gears results in better mileage.

Intelligent Manual Transmission – iMT

Image showing an iMT transmission

Intelligent Manual Transmission is Hyundai’s latest offering in automatic transmission. iMT unlike other transmissions, does involve manual shifting of gears albeit without a clutch. An actuator engages the clutch upon feedback from sensors when the gear stick is moved. Just like manual transmission, the driver is in control of gear shifts, and fuel economy.

Advantages

  • Low cost – iMT is cheaper than most automatic transmissions in the market.
  • Efficient – Since the clutch control is automated, there is no compromise on fuel efficiency.

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FAQs on Types of Automatic Transmissions

Which automatic transmission is the best?

It all depends on the requirement, if you are gunning for a smooth and pleasant driving experience then CVT is the transmission to pick but if you are looking for performance then DSG is the best. Fuel efficiency on your mind then the torque converter, the AMT and the latest, iMT are good options.

Who can drive an automatic transmission vehicle?

Automatic transmission is very easy to drive and anybody can learn it. A lack of clutch and gears take the complexity of driving away and make it a pleasure to learn. Anybody with a valid driving license can drive an automatic transmission vehicle.

How are gears in an automatic transmission changed?

It is a very complex system involving a computer, an actuator, multiple mechanical parts and sensors. For example an AMT uses onboard computer and engine speed sensors to change gears using an actuator and other mechanical parts.

Should I buy a car with automatic transmission?

If you are a new driver and are not confident with changing gears, you should go for an automatic transmission. However, automatic transmissions don’t come cheap and you’ll have to cough up a decent premium to get one home. However, you can save a lot of money if you opt for an automatic car on Spinny. Check them out here https://www.spinny.com/used-automatic-cars-in-delhi-ncr/s/

Which cars in India offer automatic transmission?

All major brands like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda etc. offer auto transmission on all their cars.

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