Q: How does the automatic transmission work?

asked by on

How does the automatic transmission work?

Automatic transmissions are simpler to operate than manual transmissions are, but you should still be familiar with how they work.

  • The shift indicator in the dash shows you the gear selected. You can also see this on the gearshift between the seats.

  • If the D indicator is flashing, it means there’s a problem with the transmission. If the Check Engine light comes on in conjunction with the D light, your car needs immediate service.

  • To shift out of park, press the brake pedal, and pull in on the release button on the gearshift handle. Pull the handle backward to reverse, or drive.

  • Park, reverse, neutral and drive should be familiar to all drivers. However, the other gears might not be:

    • D3: This gear is designed for towing – press the release lever on the handle to shift from drive to D3.
    • 2: The transmission will be locked into this gear (it won’t upshift or downshift) until you manually shift back to D3, drive or another gear. It’s used for steep inclines and slick surfaces.
    • 1: This locks the transmission into first gear (it won’t upshift or downshift). It’s primarily used for very steep inclines.
Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. How does the automatic transmission work?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: When I turn overdrive on my 2002 focus it makes a sound when I put my foot on the gas like its overworking itself.

Your transmission may be having a fault that is disabling the overdrive. If the computer is detecting a fault in the system it will do this or if the transmission is slipping or has internal problems will also do this....

Q: Cd4e new pump and rod. Pressure builds 30sec then total loss.

If the transmission fluid was gritty when it first drained, the fluid when the pump shaft snapped off is not a good sign. The pump most likely bound up due to this metal that came through the system. When you...

Q: Q: Transmission problems

A diagnostic is only meaningful if there is a specific identification of a part or parts that have failed, are worn out, defective or the like. The bearings in the differential that you refer to are not visible for inspection,...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.