Standard transmissions were the first kind of transmissions put into automobiles, and for a long time they were the only transmission option in a new car. Even when automatic transmissions became popular in the 1950’s, a manual transmission was still the base, or standard option, hence the name. Standard transmissions also called manual transmissions, 5-speeds or a “stick” are being ordered in fewer and fewer vehicles today as automatic transmission got more reliable, more efficient and less expensive. In the 50s, about 80% of vehicles were sold with manual transmissions, while today, less than 10% of vehicles sold have manual transmissions, with many models not even being available with a manual transmission.
As with many things in life, manual transmissions have some benefits and some disadvantages over automatic transmissions. Most of the benefits of a manual transmission are derived from its relatively simple construction and design. A manual transmission only has 2 to 3 shafts inside each with gears riding on them. The gears are already meshing, but ride on bearings on the shaft. As you move the gear selecting lever, or the stick, you are choosing which set of gears will be coupled to the input and output shafts by sliding a collar on the shaft. Different gears have different ratios which will affect the vehicle speed versus the engine speed. These gears and shafts ride in a pool of gear oil which helps keep them cool and lubricated and is the source of the majority of the resistance in a manual transmission.
An automatic transmission on the other hand has multiple gears all on the different shafts and that can be free spinning, stationary or coupled to another set of gears. This is accomplished by multiple clutches, bands and springs. These are operated by high pressure automatic transmission fluid which requires a pump and many valves, hoses and small passages. All of this equipment takes a significant amount of energy to run and leaves room for a lot of things to possibly go wrong or break.
Because of the simplicity of standard transmissions they often have the potential to outlast many other important parts of your vehicle, including the engine, as long as they are maintained properly. The biggest thing you can do to keep your manual transmission in good working condition for years to come is to regularly change the transmission fluid. Changing manual transmission fluid is often even easier than changing your engine oil because there is no filter. First, find the drain and fill plugs. It’s often a good idea to remove the fill plug first to ensure it is not frozen on and to check the fluid level before draining. The oil should be just up to the bottom of the fill plug hole. If it is lower, check the transmission for leaks at any gasket or seal points, where the axles or transmission exit the transmission housing at where the transmission bolts to the engine. If your fluid level is good, remove the drain plug, let the transmission drain and replace the drain plug. At the fill plug, add the factory recommended type of manual transmission fluid or gear oil until it just begins to run out of the fill plug. Replace the fill plug and you’re done!
If you discovered a fluid leak in your manual transmission, you should seal the leak immediately. Since manual transmission fluid level is difficult to check, a leak can lead to a low fluid level without you knowing causing permanent transmission damage and a costly repair bill. To seal your leak easily and permanently, add BlueDevil Transmission Sealer with your new transmission fluid. BlueDevil Transmission Sealer can stay in your transmission fluid and will not clog or harm anything. BlueDevil Transmission Sealer will absorb into the old rubber seals in your transmission restoring them to their original size, shape and softness sealing your leak permanently from the inside out!
You can purchase BlueDevil Transmission Sealer online, or from any of our authorized retails:
- Prime Automotive Warehouse
- Bennett Auto Supply
- Pep Boys
- CarQuest Auto Parts
- Advance Auto Parts
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
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