a vehicle off-roading in a forest at night

Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive | Pros & Cons

Perhaps you’ve heard the term drivetrain when shopping around for a new car. Simply put, a drivetrain is the series of parts in your car that work together to make your wheels turn. A powertrain, on the other hand, is basically a drivetrain plus the engine and some other parts.

While some praise the advantages of four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, most cars are two-wheel drive (2WD), in which power is either transferred to the two front wheels (front-wheel drive) or the two back wheels (rear-wheel drive).

For off-roading and getting out of sticky situations, 4WD and AWD may be your best choice. In nearly all cases, however, 2WD gets the job done. But, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of your two 2WD options before making a decision.

Front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive—which one is best for you?

Drivetrain Options

Rear-Wheel Drivetrains (2WD)

In rear-wheel drivetrains, power is transferred to the two back wheels. There are many benefits to having power transferred to the rear wheels, including superior handling, acceleration, and braking.

Front-Wheel Drivetrains (2WD)

This setup transfers power to the front wheels, giving them the responsibility of moving and steering the vehicle. They are typically cheaper to manufacturer and are more space-saving than rear-wheel drive.

Four-Wheel and All-Wheel Drivetrains 

While there are important differences between the two, both 4WD and AWD are drivetrain types that transfer power from the engine to all four wheels of your vehicle. All-wheel drive is typically applied to drivetrains that include a differential between the front and rear drive shafts.

We recommend 2WD for most drivers who drive in mild climates without a lot of snow. Whether or not you should buy a 2WD or 4WD vehicle depends entirely on your driving conditions and how you intend to use the vehicle.

Drivers who go off-roading or live in areas with a lot of snow may want to think about the added benefit of 4WD and how comfortable they feel driving in snow without the assistance of 4WD or AWD.

For most drivers in most conditions, however, 2WD is all you need. Click here for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of four-wheel and all-wheel drive.

2-Wheel Drive (2WD)

As mentioned before, most vehicles are 2WD, which can come in one of two setups: front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD).

Since the engine only needs to power two wheels, they are cheaper to purchase and get better fuel economy than either 4WD or AWD.

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) Diagram

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Front-Wheel Drive Pros (Advantages):

  • The engine and transmission are located directly above the front wheels, which can provide better traction when climbing hills and driving on slippery roads.
  • Since all the equipment is up front, they create more space and leg room in the back.
  • Front-wheel drive has less components than any other drivetrain setup, making the vehicle lighter and improving its gasoline mileage. That’s why most economy-type cars are front-wheel drive.
  • There is greater tactile feedback through the steering wheel if the wheels are slipping.
  • Front-wheel drive is a simpler system and tends to be less expensive to buy and maintain.

If most of your driving is in dry or rainy conditions, a front-wheel drive system is all you need. Most modern front-wheel drive systems contain anti-lock braking (ABS) and traction control, making them perfectly suitable for light snow conditions as well.

Front-Wheel Drive Cons (Disadvantages):

  • Since all the weight is located in the front of the vehicle, front-wheel drive cars tend to understeer.
  • During sudden acceleration, front-wheel drive vehicles tend to veer to the right or left because of something called “torque steer.”
  • Front-wheel drive tends to have a lower towing capacity than rear-wheel or 4WD/AWD drivetrains.
  • Front-wheel drive has worse acceleration than rear-wheel drive, which is why most sporty and race cars use rear-wheel drive.
  • With all the weight up front, front-wheel drive can make handling more difficult.
  • CV joints/boots in FWD vehicles tend to wear out sooner than rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Diagram

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rear-Wheel Drive Pros (Advantages):

  • During dry conditions, rear-wheel drive improves handling due to “load transfer” in acceleration and more even weight distribution.
  • Rear-wheel drive tends to have less costly maintenance since there aren’t as many parts packed into a small space. Front-wheel drive repairs and maintenance may cost more since they have to remove more parts for workable access.
  • You won’t experience “torque steer,” the tendency that FWD vehicles have to veer to the right or left during acceleration.
  • Towing large loads is easier since the wheels doing the pulling are located closer to the load. Also, steering is much easier since the back wheels are providing the power while the front wheels do the work of steering.
  • While drifting is not recommended for most drivers, it is easier to drift with RWD than FWD or 4WD/AWD.

Rear-Wheel Drive Cons (Disadvantages):

  • Rear-wheel drive may be more fun to drive, but it also makes it more difficult to master. With modern stability and traction controls, however, the driving differences of RWD don’t present a problem for most drivers.
  • There is less interior space due to more room needed for the transmission tunnel and driveshaft.
  • There may be less trunk room since more equipment must be placed underneath the trunk.
  • The driveshaft, which connects the front engine to the back axle, adds more weight. RWD weighs slightly more than FWD, but less than 4WD and AWD.
  • Additional materials translate to a slightly higher purchase price.
  • Since RWD pushes the car rather than pulls it, it has more difficulty maneuvering in wet and snowy conditions. With modern technology, such as stability and traction control, however, this disadvantage is greatly reduced.

We sell a large inventory of front-wheel driverear-wheel drivefour-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive vehicles. Shop our complete online inventory.

If you have any questions about front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or any other drivetrain setup, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

a truck towing motorbikes

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) Advantages and Disadvantages

Is more always better? When shopping around for a new or used vehicle, you will undoubtedly come across different drivetrain options, such two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD).

But is 4WD always better? Is it worth the extra expense? Learn whether or not 4WD is right for you by going over the advantages and disadvantages.

First, what is a drivetrain?

The powertrain is everything that makes a vehicle move, including the engine and the drivetrain, while the drivetrain is everything that makes the wheels move minus the engine.

There are three common types of drivetrain arrangements: rear-wheel drivetrains, front-wheel drivetrains, and four-wheel/all-wheel drivetrains.

Four-Wheel Drivetrains (also known as Four by Four or 4×4)

Although 4WD and AWD are different, they both transfer power to your front and back wheels, which can be beneficial during muddy, snowy, rocky, and other difficult driving conditions.

You typically see 4WD systems on larger vehicles that are designed with all-terrain abilities, such as trucks, SUVS, and off-road vehicles.

4WD vs. AWD Drivetrains 

The main difference between 4WD and AWD is that four-wheel drive vehicles use two differentials and a transfer case while all-wheel drive vehicles employ a front, rear, and center differential.

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

When 4WD is engaged, the engine sends power to the transmission, which is then split into the front and wheel axles. The torque gets transferred to the wheels, but the wheels must have traction on the road in order for the vehicle to move anywhere. Otherwise the tires will merely spin as you have probably experienced when stuck in mud or sand.

Let’s say that you get your rear wheels stuck in mud. If you have two-wheel drive (2WD), then your wheels will probably spin and spin. In this case, it might be extremely useful to have four-wheel drive so that your front wheels could get some traction on the road. If power was transferred to the front wheels, where the traction is, you’ be able to successfully get your car out of a sticky situation.

This is essentially what four-wheel drive does. It gives you traction where and when you need it. Although 4WD is a bit more complicated than that, it’s essentially a way to increase traction and power on the road.

Most of the time, all you need is 2WD. 2WD is used for regular road driving. When you need extra power and traction (deep mud, soft sand, ruts, steep inclines and declines, rocky surfaces, etc), you can engage 4WD by pressing a button. The process for engaging 4WD, however, depends on your vehicle.

What Kind of 4WD Do I Have?

It’s important to know exactly how your 4WD system works. For older vehicles, you may have come to a complete stop first and put your vehicle in neutral or park before engaging 4WD.

Newer vehicles, however, can normally activate 4WD with a simple push of a button. Some modern 4WD systems turn on automatically whenever it detects one or more of the wheels slipping.

Each system—part-time, full-time, manual shift, on-the-fly, and fully automatic—all have different requirements for engagement and disengagement. It’s important to check your owner’s manual, consult a dealership, or look up your vehicle online using its VIN.

When to Use 4WD?

Use 4WD in the following situations:

  • When you need additional torque/power, such as pulling heavy loads at slow speeds.
  • When you descending at slow speeds while hauling a heavy load.
  • When you are going over steep inclines and declines, such as rocky situations.
  • When you are stuck in snow, mud, or sand; however, stop immediately if your wheels are spinning and follow the advice in this article.

Four-Wheel Drive Advantages

The main benefits of 4WD are traction and power. Have you ever seen those commercials where the Jeep is climbing over boulders and rocks? That’s 4WD in action.

If you are climbing a steep hill or are off-roading, you will want increased power in order to get over obstacles and climb steep hills. While 2WD will get you over even the steepest hills of San Francisco, if you are off-roading you will probably want the extra power that comes with 4WD.

  • 4WD improves traction in dangerous driving conditions, such as snow, ice, rocks, and other scenarios that can make control difficult. By engaging both sets of wheels, traction and control improves.
  • Additional weight contributes to better grip on the road.
  • 4WD is great for those who like off-roading.

If you frequently drive in conditions where there is low traction, or if you enjoy off-roading, you will greatly benefit from four-wheel drive.

Four-Wheel Drive Disadvantages

In most cases, 4WD is not necessary. It uses more fuel and can also lead to overconfidence, leading to more situations where you can get stuck. Save money and fuel by only using 4WD when you need it.

  • The main disadvantage of 4WD is added cost for purchase, maintenance, and fuel. The extra equipment (differentials, transfer case, etc.) adds complexity and weight to the vehicle, increasing initial market value, tire wear, and the cost of repairs and maintenance.
  • The added power and weight of 4WD and AWD systems require more fuel, making them less efficient than their 2WD counterparts.
  • Added weight improves traction and control, but it also increases the braking distance required to make a complete stop. Lighter vehicles can avoid collision easier than heavier vehicles.
  • 4WD and AWD can cause overconfidence in drivers, ironically leading to more situations where you can become stuck.
  • Although 4WD improves traction, slow down and use extreme caution on icy, snowy, and slick roads. Overconfidence can lead to dangerous accidents.

4WD Tips and Tricks

  • 4WD vehicles work best when they are regularly used and maintained according to manufacturer recommendations. If you don’t use the 4WD system for extended periods of time, the seals can dry out. It’s best to keep the system lubricated by activating it at least once every few months.
  • Only use 4WD when you need it to save as much gas and money as possible. Driving 4WD on mild, dry conditions can do damage to your front axles, differential gears, and other parts. Always use 2WD on dry pavement.
  • If you get stuck, switch to 4WD and slowly depress the gas pedal to get yourself out. If the wheels start spinning, stop before you dig yourself a deeper hole. Learn how to get unstuck from any situation.

We sell a large inventory of front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive vehicles. Shop our complete online inventory.

If you have any questions about 4WD, AWD, or any other drivetrain setup, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

two technicians working under the hood of a car

What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover? What is a Powertrain?

When shopping for a used car, if you are offered any warranties at all, it will most likely be a powertrain warranty. But what does it actually mean?

In short, powertrain warranties cover everything that makes the vehicle move, including the engine, transmission, and all the parts that connect the power to the wheels.

Powertrain warranties are designed to provide peace of mind for consumers when purchasing a vehicle. They are offered by the seller and/or manufacturer to repair or fix an issue with the powertrain if it is not performing properly.

What is a Powertrain and Why Does It Matter?

The “powertrain” of a vehicle combines many different components, including:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Driveshafts
  • Transfer Case (for all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles)
  • Differentials
  • Internal Working of the Engine

Engine coverage normally includes:

  • Cylinder Block and Heads
  • Internal Parts
  • Oil Pan
  • Valvetrain
  • Water, Fuel, and Oil Pump
  • Fuel Injectors
  • Gaskets and Seals
  • Flywheel

In addition to the main parts listed above, some powertrain warranties also cover things like:

  • Wheel Bearings and Hubs
  • Axle Shafts
  • Exhaust and Intake Manifolds
  • Other Parts

Basically, the powertrain system provides and converts power to the vehicle. The term “powertrain” can also be applied to motorcycles, boats, airplanes, and other pieces of machinery that use an engine for power.

In order for your vehicle to run, the engine has to create power for the car, which is then transmitted to the transmission. Learn how a transmission works.

The transmission takes the power that is created by the engine and transfers it to different gear ratios, transmitting is as torque.

Through the driveshaft in the vehicle’s transmission, the engine’s energy is transmitted to the wheels, which of course, moves the car forward or backward. Computer sensors help to transcribe information to the output sensors.

What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover?

A powertrain warranty usually covers everything that is involved in the process of providing power to the wheels of your vehicle. This includes the most important and expensive parts of the vehicle: engine, driveshaft, and transmission.

If you are wondering if a part is covered by your powertrain warranty, ask yourself “does it make the car run forward or backward?” If you answer “yes,” it is probably covered by the powertrain warranty.

If your engine, transmission, or any other part that powers your vehicle stops working, a powertrain warranty will replace or repair the part at no cost to you.

Purchasing a used vehicle with a powertrain warranty gives you peace of mind that you are not buying a lemon. The powertrain warranty covers the vehicle’s most expensive equipment.

Often, they are also the longest lasting warranties. If a mechanical problem should arise, the powertrain warranty will normally cover it.

When shopping around for a used vehicle, always look for powertrain warranty information.

What’s not included in a powertrain warranty:

Anything that does not directly affect the power of your vehicle is not covered by a powertrain warranty. This includes parts such as radios, air conditioners, windows, and add-on features.

Additionally, powertrain warranties don’t cover normal wear-and-tear parts that are expected to be replaced at regular intervals. Things like brake pads, clutches, and CV joints may be considered part of the powertrain, but since they are wear-and-tear items, they normally aren’t covered by the powertrain warranty.

Keep in mind that powertrain warranties also don’t cover anything associated with accidents, collisions, theft, vandalism, glass breakage, flooding, fire, and other things that are normally be covered by insurance.

Of course, you always want to make sure to read the fine print to make sure that all aspects of the powertrain are covered. This applies to all warranties. Read the fine print first!

Contact the team at Auto Simple for more information on our powertrain warranty and any other warranties that may be associated with your certified pre-owned vehicle purchase.

What is a Drivetrain Warranty?

A drivetrain warranty is very similar to a powertrain warranty, but it does not cover anything related to the vehicle’s engine. Your vehicle’s drivetrain contains the components that transfer the power from your engine to the wheels on the ground.

As with powertrain warranties, never assume that some part in your vehicle will be covered. Warranties vary significantly, so read the fine print first.

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty?

A bumper-to-bumper warranty is sometimes offered when you purchase a new vehicle. It’s basically a comprehensive warranty that covers anything that could go wrong with your vehicle.

It is normally the shortest coverage warranty that you can get. Powertrain warranties, on the other hand, typically have the longest coverage.

Why You Need a Powertrain Warranty

Besides routine maintenance, insurance, registration, and other costs associated with owning a vehicle, car repairs can get incredibly expensive. And the most expensive repairs are associated with your car’s powertrain.

If you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, it is extremely important that it comes with a powertrain warranty. Warranties for sound systems, electrical components, and other aspects of the vehicle can be nice, but they pale in comparison to the costs associated with powertrain repairs and replacements.

Almost every single part of your powertrain will cost you at least several hundred dollars to up to several thousand dollars to repair or replace. A powertrain warranty is basically saying that the vehicle is solid and the main parts will be backed up if anything goes wrong.

A powertrain warranty should be one of the first things you inquire about when shopping for a vehicle. Learn more car-buying tips.

How long do powertrain warranties last?

Typically, powertrain warranties from the manufacturer last around 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Sometimes, however, powertrain warranties last much shorter or longer than this.

If you are purchasing a used vehicle, the manufacturer’s powertrain warranty may not be in effect any longer. Luckily, the seller will sometimes offer their own powertrain warranty; however, these offers will normally be much shorter than if you bought a new car from a dealership.

Powertrain warranties usually last much longer than other manufacturer’s warranties, such as comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranties.

While the duration of powertrain warranties varies, they all get discontinued eventually. Make sure you get the duration of your powertrain warranty in writing before purchasing your next vehicle.

Auto Simple’s 6 Month / 6000 Mile Powertrain Warranty

We offer a 6 Month / 6,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty on all of our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. This is in addition to any existing manufacturer warranties that may be attached to the vehicle already.

Additionally, if you are unhappy with your vehicle for any reason, you can return it within 48 hours. No questions asked.

If you see a vehicle you like on our Online Inventory, don’t hesitate to contact us about any additional warranties that may be attached to your vehicle of choice.

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Keep in touch with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

a car in muddy water

How to Escape from a Sinking Car | Emergency Vehicle Rescue

Nobody wants to find themselves in a submerged vehicle. Unfortunately, many drivers will find themselves in this terrifying position. It can happen to anyone.

According to research from the University of Manitoba, vehicles submersions are responsible for around 400 deaths a year in North America, one of the highest fatality rates of motor-vehicle accidents. Some studies report over 10,000 water immersion auto accidents every year.

From collapsing bridges and skids to crashes and Google Maps accidents, there are many ways your vehicle can enter a body of water. Even heavy rains and flooding can submerge a vehicle in a matter of minutes.

Don’t even think about calling for help. No one will be able to come and rescue in time. If you find yourself submerged in water, you will need to rescue yourself. This is a matter of life or death.

In order to get yourself safely out of a sinking car, you will probably need a car escape tool, which combines a seat belt cutter with a window breaker. Here is a list of the best car escape tools of 2017. We highly recommend keeping this tool in the glove compartment, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.

How to Escape from a Sinking Car

Avoid becoming fish food by learning how to escape from a sinking vehicle before it happens.

  1. Brace for impact

The water can cause a huge impact. Brace for it by firmly gripping the steering wheel at the “9 and 3” position rather than the “10 and 2” position. If the air bags go off (which they probably will), hands placed at the “10 and 2” position will cause your hands to hit your face. If you are wearing a watch, you could get knocked out as a result.

  1. Remain calm, but move quickly

When your car enters a body of water, you have around 30 seconds to 2 minutes before the car sinks and becomes completely submerged. This gives you plenty of time to react and get yourself out, but you will still need to act fast.

Minivans and larger vehicles submerge slower than small car, but it’s safe to assume that you have around 60 seconds to get yourself out.

As soon as you notice you’re entering a body of water, stay focused and start repeating the steps you will need to take to escape. Don’t panic!

  1. Don’t open the door

Although it may be possible to open the door, as soon as you do, water will rush in and cause the car to immediately sink. It can also be extremely difficult to open the door. Opening the door can cut your escape time from 1-2 minutes to just a couple of seconds.

  1. Unbuckle your seat belt

The first thing you should do is unbuckle your seat belt. If the buckle is stuck, you will need to cut it.

Since buckles can become stuck, it’s highly recommended that you have a seat belt cutter within reach of the driver’s seat.

  1. Unbuckle passengers’ seat belts

If you have children or other passengers in the car, the second thing you should do is unbuckle their seat belts. Make sure you get your passengers out of their seat belts before doing anything else.

If you have passengers in the back seat, instruct them to exit through their window or pull them into the front of the car so they can exit through your window.

  1. Open the window (break it if necessary)

After everyone in the vehicle is unbuckled, try rolling down the window. Most car windows will still work after making impact with water. If you cannot get the window to roll down, however, you will need to break the window.

This can be extremely difficult without a car window breaker (safety hammer). This device almost always comes with a seat belt cutter. Make sure you have a seat belt cutter/window breaker within reach of the driver’s seat at all times.

If the window won’t roll down and you don’t have a car escape tool, you will need to kick out the side or rear window, but this won’t be easy.

  1. Climb out

Once the window has been rolled down (or broken), push the children out of the window, oldest ones first. Then, climb out of the window yourself.

  1. Open the door (if the window won’t open)

Sometimes, you can’t get the window to open. In this case, if water is entering the vehicle, wait until pressure is equalized on both sides of the door before attempting to open it. This usually means waiting until the water level is the same on both the inside and outside of the car.

Take a deep breath, open the door, and swim out headfirst. If you don’t know which direction is up, follow the bubbles, which will always rise to the surface.

  1. Swim for dry land

Once you have successfully escaped from your sinking vehicle, determine whether or not you can swim to dry land. If it makes sense to stay put and call for help, do that instead.

When swimming to safety, swim in the direction of the current (if you are in deep water).

Final Notes:

Be extra careful when driving in high flood areas and around areas adjacent to bodies of water. If there is a flash flood warning, avoid driving if possible. People can drown in less than 1 foot of water.

Just because the car ahead of you was able to drive through the flood waters doesn’t mean that yours will. Follow The National Weather Service’s advice: “Turn around, don’t drown.

If your car has been partially or completely submerged for any reason, do not try to start the car without first having a mechanic conduct a full inspection.

The costs to restore a submerged vehicle are extremely high, usually exceeding its value. Most insurance companies will consider a submerged car as “totaled.”

Luckily, Auto Simple has an extensive inventory of used vehicles to get you back on the road again, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Keep in touch with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

image of a manual transmission

How Transmissions Work | Manual vs Automatic Transmissions

The debate over manual versus automatic transmissions is largely subjective. As a country of car people, there are many opinions about what makes the best ride. It really depends on what you need and how you want to feel when cruising in your vehicle. Some people describe feeling powerful while driving stick shift, while others find it difficult and appreciate the ease and safety of an automatic.

These days, most people buy a car with an automatic transmission. Manual vehicles, however, have a certain allure to them—images of fast cars roaring along an open road. Or, if you were given your mom’s hand-me-down vehicle as a teenager, manual cars can remind us of learning to shift, but mostly stalling, in an empty parking lot.

Why are manufacturers and consumers ditching the manual for automatic? What are the key differences between the two? We explore the manual vs. automatic debate.

Manual vs Automatic Transmissions

Almost all car manufacturers offered a choice between automatic and manual drive trains. Many consumers preferred manual transmissions because they ran up to $1,000 cheaper and usually got better fuel efficiency.

As the years went on, however, car makers were able to make the automatic transmission better and drivers began to get used to the ease of automatic shifting. As the advantages began tipping in automatic’s favor, they became the preferred choice. Sales went up and manufacturers started to save money by only offering one drive train option.

For young people, knowing how to drive a manual transmission is nearly unheard of. Driving schools that offer instructions on manual transmissions are rare. That’s unfortunate because there are still many reasons to choose a manual transmission.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is resale value. According to a report from U.S. News and World Report, only 18% of Americans know how to drive a stick shift. This limits your pool of buyers when looking to sell your car or trade for a new one.

Click here if you want to learn how to drive a manual transmission.

The Basics of How Transmissions Work

A car transmission uses the ancient concept of a lever, in the form of gears and gear trains, to provide speed and torque conversions, which is applied to power your vehicle. Transmissions are used in mechanical engineering to improve mechanical efficiency and make the most use of an engine’s torque.

A gear is basically a collection of levers that rotates. Larger gears take longer for a full rotation, but provide greater force. The transmission, composed of many interlocking gears (levers), is located right underneath the gear shifter.

Here are some of the gears that you shift in your motorcar:

  • The Engine Shaft comes from the engine
  • The Drive Shaft carries the power to the rear wheels.
  • The Countershaft connects the Engine Shaft to the Drive Shaft.

The main difference between manual and automatic transmissions is that the manual transmission uses multiple sets of gears to the drive shaft while an automatic transmission uses a planetary gear set to produce different gear ratios.

The drive shaft going to the wheels is in mesh with another gear on the countershaft. These gears, also called dog teeth, are always in mesh and turning when the engine is running.

The clutch sleeve cannot turn on the drive shaft but is free to slide back and forth. On the sleeve, a large gear is mounted that can move from the drive shaft to the engine shaft. The sleeve gear can move in order to create different gears for higher or lower speeds.

A large vehicle takes a large amount of force to start. The power goes through the gears in the transmission. The gears help regulate the power for maximum efficiency.

Here’s a problem: An automobile must be able to go backward and forward so another set of gears is added, called reverse idler gears. The power travels through the transmission. Now, there are multiple sets of gears for going forward and another set for going in reverse. Noise and wear are common.

What’s the Difference? Transmissions 101

Your car’s internal combustion engine creates power and torque, but it is only really useful during a certain speed range. Instead of connecting the drive wheel directly to the engine, the transmission, or gear box, controls the engine’s speed and torque (RPM).

The transmission makes sure the engine’s RPM is always within the maximum efficiency range, taking care of the speed variations in the drive wheel.

A manual transmission, also known as a stick-shift, requires the driver to use a stick to change gears. Manual transmissions are based on a collection of simple gear pairs and uses a clutch pack.

Automatic transmissions are based upon a planetary gear set and uses a torque converter. An automatic transmission shifts the gears on its own.

Comparing the Benefits

1. Fuel Economy

Fans of the manual transmission always boast of greater efficiency and fuel economy. In the past, this would have been true nearly every time. But as technology improves and automatic transmissions get better, you are starting to see the automatic version beat out the manual version in terms of fuel economy.

2. Price

Manual transmissions are cheaper to install and the sticker price reflects that. However, if you do not know how to drive a manual vehicle and aren’t looking for that type of driving experience, then the generally lower cost isn’t helpful.

3. Options

Although fewer and fewer cars with manual transmissions are made each year, there is a wide variety to choose from, including trucks, sedans and sports cars. Automatic vehicles are the new norm. Every company will provide you with several automatic options with modern technology and safety features to encourage that smooth ride.

How to Choose: What to Consider Before Purchasing

Before purchasing a manual or automatic vehicle, there are some basics to consider:

  • Know the Difference – Don’t go into the purchase blindly. If you don’t know the difference between the two types of transmissions, from maintenance to function, do some research or speak to someone with experience with cars.
  • Power & Acceleration – Manual transmissions tend to have faster acceleration, but it depends on your needs. An automatic transmission is conventionally a 4 or 5-speed, while a manual transmission is a 5 or 6-speed. If you’re looking for that ultimate speed and performance, a manual gearbox is generally the go to.
  • Semi-Automatic – If you are having trouble deciding, semi-automatic is an option. This is mainly found in sports cars. You have an automatic transmission with the option to switch over to a manual mode.
  • Mileage & Fuel Economy – Based on how much you use your vehicle, you will want to consider which transmission gets the best mileage. EPA ratings can help you research and compare different brands before purchasing.
  • Repair – Every car at some point will need repair. What’s the difference in cost between the two transmissions? In general, and you may not have thought this, but manual vehicles are often cheaper to maintain and repair. However, something like a clutch replacement is costly and does need to be replaced on occasion in manual transmissions.

Auto Simple is your source for both manual and automatic vehicles. We can offer support in your search for a new vehicle, and provide the information you need to make the best decision for you and your daily needs.

Stop by any of our locations for the best deals on used vehicles:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

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