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What Transmission Is In My Car? | 4 Ways to Find Out


The transmission in your vehicle is one of the most complex components on your vehicle with many moving parts, hydraulic components that in many new cars are also computer-controlled.

Your vehicle’s transmission is designed to transfer maximum power and efficiency from the engine to the drive train of your car at various speeds and conditions. So, how do you find out what transmission is in my car?

There are approximately two hundred different types of transmissions. Car manufacturers sometimes change transmissions from year to year on the same model of car. There is a different transmission with different gear ratios for each engine size and model of the vehicle.

Transmissions must be matched to the type of vehicle, e.g., a full size van, small and large cars, Dodge Ram and Yukon XL trucks, Diesel v10 68l and many more. You can check when purchasing a car in four different ways.

4 Ways to Find What the Transmission Type Is

Automatic transmission
Automatic transmission

There are four ways to find out what transmission is in your car, as well as going to the mechanic. The dealer or one of the mechanics can do a transmission lookup using a lookup tool for your type of vehicle using the VIN, make and model, and the year the vehicle was manufactured.

If the transmission has been changed in your car for some reason, keep a record of which transmission was installed. Common methods of figuring out which transmission is in your car include; check the driver’s side door, owner manual, check under the hood, and also the oil pan.

1. Driver’s side door card

There is a vehicle identification tag attached to the driver’s side door or sometimes the post between the front and rear doors that provides a great deal of basic information about your car. It should indicate the engine type, the transmission type, tire pressure for the tires, and the year the auto was manufactured.

The number next to the “TR” symbol is what you need. Copy this number down and call your dealer to confirm what transmission is in your car.

2. Owners booklet

The owner’s manual is an excellent source of information about your car, including maintenance requirements as well as technical information about the engine and transmission. There are many different manufacturers as well as models of vehicles.

Some manuals indicate whether you have a manual or automatic transmission and may give more specific information. You may need to confirm with the dealer regarding the specific transmission installed in your car.

3. Under the Hood

Unlock the engine hood and lift it. On the underside of the hood, many cars have a white sticker providing information about the transmission and the size of the engine installed in your car. Use the information from your car’s manual and from the sticker on the driver’s door frame to confirm the transmission type installed in your car.

4. Vehicle’s Oil pan

The transmission oil pan is another way of determining what kind of transmission is in your car, i.e., standard or automatic. An abnormally shaped oil pan that looks a little bit like the state of New Mexico indicates an automatic transmission. Beyond that, you need more information from the car’s manual or the tag on the door frame.

Can I find out with my VIN number?

The VIN number of your car contains a great deal of information. It can be found along with the windshield on the driver’s side of the car, on the driver’s side door, under the hood on the left side of the car, and also on the front driver’s side of the frame on older cars.

Use the VIN number (vehicle identification number) to look up details on your car, including the engine size and the original transmission shipped with the car.

The VIN (vehicle identification number) also tells you about the vehicle manufacturer, the body, style and brand, engine size, model, and more. The model year and the production number are included, along with the country of manufacture, and assembly plant.

Different type of transmission

There are three main types of transmissions in passenger cars, SUV, and small trucks. These are manual transmissions, automatic transmissions, and continuously variable transmission CVT transmissions, which are a type of automatic transmission.

These transmissions are different enough to have a separate category. Also, there is the dual clutch and semiautomatic transmission. The automatic and continuously variable transmissions CVT are the most popular.

However many drivers enjoy the sensation of changing gears in a manual transmission car once the driver has learned how to shift gears smoothly. Manual transmission requires some skill and coordination to depress the clutch at the right time while shifting gears.

Many automatic transmissions utilize a torque converter to convert power from the engine to the input shaft on the transmission. Car buying guides also indicate the type of transmission usually available with each model.

Manual transmission

Manual Transmission GearManual transmissions involve a clutch that is controlled by a foot pedal and a gear shift that is used to shift the gear each time the clutch pedal is depressed. Many drivers find cars with manual transmissions fun to drive and enjoy shifting gears as the car increases or decreases speed.

These transmissions are simpler to manufacture and typically provide better efficiency than other types. Manual transmissions also tend to last longer, unless you are the type of driver that rides the clutch a great deal causing it to wear out more quickly than normal.

Dual-clutch transmission

Dual clutch transmissions are manual transmissions controlled by the car’s computer. These transmissions are considered automatic as well. The driver does not need to take any action other than place the gear shift in drive and depress the gas pedal. Dual clutch transmissions are more complex with more moving parts.

These transmissions typically deliver better fuel economy and faster shifting than traditional automatics. These transmissions are sought after by enthusiastic drivers looking to shave tenths of a second from shifting from one gear to another.

Automatic transmission

BMW automatic transmission gearFully Automatic transmissions shift gears as your car increases or decreases speed. The driver does not need to take any action other than place the gear shift in the drive position and depress the gas pedal. This transmission is easy to drive, preferred by many drivers who find changing gears often too much effort or complicated.

Semi-automatic transmission

Semi-automatic transmissions usually come with two modes of operation. Semi-automatic transmissions usually incorporate all of the functions of an automatic transmission as well as an option for the driver to control the gear the transmission operates in and also when it changes gears.

This control function can be found as an option on the stick shift or as paddles attached to the steering wheel. The driver can control the transmission shift change by activating one of the paddles or moving the gear shift forward or backward in the semi-automatic mode.

Constant variable transmission (CVT)

The CVT, constant variable transmission, is also considered an automatic transmission with some important differences. Tradition automatic transmissions make a noticeable shift from one gear to another, while CVT’s continuously shift speeds without the noticeable gear shift.

These transmissions are considered to be 88% efficient compared to manual transmissions.

Final Details

Automatic transmissions are by far the most popular common transmission in modern cars. The preference for little effort and uncomplicated driving has made automatics popular in many vehicles.

There are over two hundred different transmissions in use, and the type can vary between models and even the same model in different years. Automatic transmissions use different transmission fluid than manual types. Avoid mixing transmission.

Information about your car’s transmission can be found in the car’s manual or on stickers that are found on the driver’s side door post or under the hood. If in doubt, always check with your local dealer, car repair shop, or transmission repair shop.

Your car’s manual also recommends how often to change transmission fluid. It doesn’t matter if you own Chevy, or Mazda fluid leaks can can cause major damage. Meineke and mister transmission are top brands to look for.

Transmissions experiencing a malfunction, may also trigger the check engine light to be illuminated. If you have a fluid leak or experiencing car trouble, have a mechanic check the error codes generated using obd2 scanners to pinpoint the problem.

Buying car or Van full size with gears set and big car seats could mean higher gas mileage. Hope you now understand the different between dual clutch and semi automatic transmission or the other transmission types.

Last Updated on: June 25, 2021

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