What Transmission Do I Have?

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Have you ever asked, “What transmission do I have?” Experts (like your local mechanic) mostly handle that question. But while fixing a transmission may need to be left up to your local auto shop, you can know what type of transmission you have.

The Transmission: What Is It?

What transmission do I have?

The transmission system is responsible for connecting your car’s engine to its wheels.
Credit: jiffylubeca.com

Let’s start with simply identifying what the transmission is and what it does. Your car’s transmission system is responsible for connecting your car’s engine to its wheels.

 It takes the power from your engine and delivers it to the wheels so your car goes where it needs to go and whatever speed it needs to go to get there.

The transmission contains different gears that are applied based on the speed the car is driving. The transmission eases the transition when you change speeds on the highway.

The Types of Transmissions

What Transmission Do I Have
There are two basic kinds of transmissions.
Credit: pixabay.com

There are two basic kinds of transmissions: Manual Transmission and Automatic

Manual Transmission

Using a gear shift and a clutch pedal, the driver switches the vehicle to the gear needed as the driver changes speeds.

What Cars and Trucks have Manual Transmission?

The best car models with a manual transmission include the Jeep Wrangler; the Audi A4/S4; the Volkswagen Jetta, GTI, and Golf; the Mini Cooper; the BMW 3 Series; the FIAT 500; and the Subaru WRX.      

One truck model that uses manual is the Toyota Tacoma. In fact, many trucks use a manual transmission.

Automatic Transmission

Shifts gears automatically for the driver.

There are four basic kinds of automatic transmissions:

Conventional Automatics

Conventional Automatics Uses a Torque converter to transfer power from the engine to the transmission. It chooses speeds by interacting with electronically controlled, hydraulically operated clutch packs.

Modern cars use this transmission more frequently. The Conventional Automatic works similarly to earlier automatics but adds the electronic controls. This transmission is smooth in operation but can lose fuel efficiency.  

What Cars and Trucks have Conventional Automatic Transmission?

The best car models with a Conventional Automatic Transmission include the Porsche Panamera, the BMW X1, the Kia Sportage, the Lexus IS F, and the Jaguar XF. 

Truck models with this transmission include the RAM 1500 and the Ford F250.

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

CVTs rely on a belt instead of a set of gears to create a smooth transition as the vehicle changes speeds. Some even have a clutch similar to cars with manual transmission with a gear shift but no clutch pedal.

Transmissions in a CVT adjust fluently between speeds and keep a constant rpm for the best fuel economy. But the design of the CVT cannot handle a lot of power.

What Cars and Trucks have a CVT Transmission?

The best car models with a CVT Transmission include the Chevy Spark, the Honda Accord, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Infiniti JX/QX60 (SUV), Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class, the Nissan Pathfinder (SUV), and the Toyota Camry.

Because trucks usually need more power for the jobs they are needed for, they rarely have a CVT transmission.

Automated Manual (also known as Semi-Automatic or AMT)

An automated manual transmission changes gears by clutching and shifting. But computer controlled, electronically activated mechanisms carry out the clutching and shifting instead of the driver.    

These transmissions shift manually using a gear lever. Most cars have turned away from this style of transmission due to the rough, herky jerky manner with which automatic manual cars shift gears.

What Cars and Trucks have an Automated Manual Transmission?

The best model cars with an Automated Manual Transmission include the Ford Kuga (SUV), the Volvo V40, the Audi A5, the Honda Civic, and the Honda Jazz.

In recent years, many trucks have taken to automated manual technology.

Dual-Clutch Automated Manual

The Dual-Clutch improved on the Automatic Manual Transmission by creating two gear shafts, one for odd-numbered gears and one for even-numbered gears.

If your car is using an odd-numbered gear, the even numbered shaft moves into position. So when you change gears, the even-numbered gear is already prepared for you. This creates a much smoother transition when shifting gears. Dual-Clutch’s also handle more power than conventional transmissions.

What Cars and Trucks have Dual-Clutch Automated Manual?

Many sport cars (that is the ones that don’t prefer the manual transmission) have a dual-clutch transmission because of the ease with which it allows the driver to change speeds. The best models with a Dual-Clutch include the Ford Fiesta, the Chrysler Dodge Dart, the Porsche 911 Carrera, the BMW M4, the Nissan GT-R, the Acura NSX, the Alfa Romero 4C, and the Mercedes Benz CLA45 AMG.

And trucks have recently taken to Dual-Clutch transmission, particularly medium-duty trucks like the Mitsubishi Fuso.

Automatic vs Manual Transmission
Credit: youtube.com

What Transmission Do I Have?

Now, let’s breakdown the methods for figuring out what kind of transmission your car has.

1. Use the VIN Number

The VIN Number is the 17 digit code located on the driver’s side door or on the dashboard. Each letter and number in the code represents something different about your car.

The key character in the 17 digit code that helps you identify the transmission is the 7th digit. That digit identifies the type of transmission you have based on a code set by the manufacturer. You will need to get a hold of a manufacturer’s code sheet to read this digit correctly.

You can also take the number to your local dealership where they can enter the number into their computer and tell you what type of transmission your car has.

2. Use the Vehicles Make, Model, and Year

Enter this information into a website, such as transmissionrepaircostguide.com, and get the transmission code. Then, you can look up that type of transmission using the code online or take the code to your local dealer.

3. White Card on the Driver’s Side Door

Many cars place a card on the driver’s side door with information about the car that often includes the type of transmission.

4. Check the Owner’s Manual

The easiest method for finding the type of transmission is inside the owner’s manual of the car. Of course, that is assuming your car came with the owner’s manual.

5. Look under the Transmission or the Transmission Oil Pan

You can also crawl under your car (with a flashlight) and check underneath the transmission or the transmission oil pan. Car makers stamp part numbers here.

 Once you have the number, you can take it to the local auto parts store and have them cross reference to find out what transmission you have.


So while you may not ever have the know how to fix your transmission, there are plenty of ways to learn what kind of transmission you have so you can be better informed of the cost for fixing it should you have problems with your transmission in the future.

Read more: OBD1 vs OBD2: Definite Interpretation and Comparison

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