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Automatic transmission system shifts the gears without assistance from the driver.
They start the car moving in first and then shift into higher gears as the car speed
increases and engine load decreases. The shifts are produced by hydraulic pressure
acting through the transmission fluid.
The control system takes into account the engine load and in general produce
changes up when the engine load is light and changes down when the engine load is

Fig.1.1 cut-away

model of automatic transmission

The main components that make up an automatic transmission include:

The Torque Converter: This acts like a clutch to allow the vehicle to come to a

stop in gear while the engine is still running.

Planetary Gear Sets: They are the mechanical systems that provide the various

forward gear ratios as well as reverse.

The Hydraulic System: It uses a special transmission fluid sent under pressure to

control the transmission

On automatic transmissions, the torque converter takes the place of the clutch found
on standard shift vehicles. It is there to allow the engine to continue running when
the vehicle comes to a stop.
A torque converter is a large doughnut shaped device that is mounted between the
engine and the transmission. As shown in the fig.1, there are four components
inside the very strong housing of the torque converter

Fig.2.1 Torque converter

Impeller or pump (driving element)
Turbine (driven element)
Stator (reaction member)
The one way clutch

The housing of the torque converter is bolted to the flywheel of the engine, so it
turns at whatever speed the engine is running at. The pump of the torque converter
is attached to the housing, so it also turns at the same speed as the engine. The
pump inside the torque converter is a type of centrifugal pump. The pump has many
curved vanes, along with an inner ring, which form passages for the fluid to flow
through. The turbine is inside the housing and is connected directly to the input
shaft of the transmission providing power to move the vehicle. To get maximum
force on the turbine vanes when the moving fluid strikes them, the vanes are curved
to reverse the direction of flow. The stator is mounted on a one-way clutch so that it
can spin freely in one direction but not in the other.
As the pump spins, fluid is flung to the outside due to centrifugal force. As fluid is
flung to the outside, a vacuum is created that draws more fluid in at the center. The
fluid then enters the blades of the turbine. Since the blades of the turbine are
curved, the fluid, which enters the turbine from the outside, has to change direction
before it exits the center of the turbine. It is this directional change that causes the
turbine to spin. The fluid exits the turbine moving opposite the direction that the
pump (and engine) is turning. This is shown in fig.2.1 If the fluid were allowed to
hit the pump, it would slow the engine down, wasting power. The stator resides in
the very center of the torque converter. Its job is to redirect the fluid returning from
the turbine before it hits the pump again. The stator has a very aggressive blade
design that almost completely reverses the direction of the fluid. Because of the
one-way clutch, the stator cannot spin with the fluid (it can spin only in the opposite
direction), forcing the fluid to change direction as it hits the stator blades.


As the speed of the turbine catches up with the pump, the fluid exit the turbine in
the same direction as the pump is turning, so the stator is not needed. At these
speeds, the fluid actually strikes the back sides of the stator blades, causing the
stator to freewheel on its one-way clutch so it doesn't hinder the fluid moving
through it. All three now elements begin to turn at approximately the same speed.
It is seen that the efficiency of the torque converter is reasonably good at only
narrow range of turbine speeds. The fall-off of efficiency at low speed end of the
range can be tolerated because those speeds are used for short periods. But the falloff of efficiency at high speeds cannot be tolerated and must be circumvented. The
efficiency can be increased, by substituting a direct drive for the torque converter at
higher speeds.
Because the only connection between two sides of a torque converter is a fluid
connection, there is always a little slippage, running from about 2-8%. To increase
efficiency and mileage, most modern automatic transmissions also have something
called a lockup clutch.
It works like this. As the two speed of the car reaches 50 to 60 kph, the highly
pressurized transmission fluid is channeled through the transmission shaft and
activates a clutch piston. This metal pin locks the turbine to the pump, in effect
bypassing the torque converter and giving a direct drive. It remains this way until
the vehicle slows below 50 kph, at which point the clutch piston disengages and the
torque converter kicks in again.


Fig.3.1 Planetary gear system

The basic planetary gear set as shown in fig3.1 consists of a sun gear, a ring gear
and two or more planet gears, all remaining in constant mesh. The planet gears are
connected to each other through a common carrier. Each of these three components
can be the input, the output or can be held stationary. Choosing which piece plays
which role determines the gear ratio for the gear set. Following table shows the
different gear ratios possible:






Sun (S)

Carrier (C)

Ring (R)

1 + R/S


Carrier (C)

Ring (R)

Sun (S)

1 / (1 + S/R)


Sun (S)

Ring (R)

Planet Carrier



Table-1 Different gear ratios


The compound planetary gear set looks like a simple planetary gear set but actually
behaves like two planetary gear sets combined. It has one ring gear that is always
the output of the transmission, but it has two sun gears and two sets of planets.

Fig.4.1 From left to right: the ring gear,planet carrier,and two sun gears

Fig.4.2 Planet carrier: Note the two sets of planets.

Fig.4.1 shows the exploded view of the compound planetary gear set. The fig.4.2
shows the planets in the planet carrier. The planet on the right sits lower than the
planet on the left. The planet on the right does not engage the ring gear, it engages
the other planet. Only the planet on the left engages the ring gear. The shorter gears
are engaged only by the smaller sun gear. The longer planets are engaged by the
bigger sun gear and by the smaller planets.
In such gear sets, the sum of number of teeth on sun gear and ring gear divided by
the number of planets must be a whole number. Otherwise certain combination of
tooth numbers cannot be assembled because of need of equal spacing on the







30-tooth sun

72-tooth ring



30-tooth sun


36-tooth ring


72-tooth ring 36-tooth sun



Planet carrier

Total 2nd

30- and 36-tooth




72-tooth ring


Planet carrier

72-tooth ring 36-tooth sun


36-tooth sun

72-tooth ring



Table-2 Gear ratios

Consider a planetary gear set with ring gear having 72 teeth the smaller sun gear
having 30 teeth and the larger sun gear having 36 teeth.

First Gear:
In first gear, the smaller sun gear is driven clockwise by the turbine in the torque
converter. The planet carrier tries to spin counterclockwise, but is held still by the
one-way clutch (which only allows rotation in the clockwise direction) and the ring
gear turns the output. Referring to table 1, the gear ratio is:
-R/S = - 72/30 = -2.4:1
So the rotation is negative 2.4:1. But the output direction is really the same as the
input direction. This is due to the two sets of planets. The first set of planets
engages the second set, and the second set turns the ring gear; this combination
reverses the direction. This would also cause the bigger sun gear to spin; but
because that clutch is released, the bigger sun gear is free to spin in the opposite
direction of the turbine (counterclockwise).

Second Gear:
This acts like two planetary gear sets connected to each other with a common planet
carrier. The first stage of the planet carrier actually uses the larger sun gear as the
ring gear. So the first stage consists of the sun (the smaller sun gear), the planet
carrier, and the ring (the larger sun gear). The input is the small sun gear; the ring
gear (large sun gear) is held stationary by the band, and the output is the planet
carrier. For this stage, with the sun as input, planet carrier as output, and the ring
gear fixed, referring to table 1 the gear ratio is:
1 + R/S = 1 + 36/30 = 2.2:1
The planet carrier turns 2.2 times for each rotation of the sun gear. At the second
stage, the planet carrier acts as the input for the second planetary gear set, the larger
sun gear (which is held stationary) acts as the sun, and the ring gear acts as the
output, so referring to table 1, the gear ratio is:
1 / (1 + S/R) = 1 / (1 + 36/72) = 0.67:1
To get the overall reduction for second gear, we multiply the first stage by the
second, 2.2 x 0.67, to get a 1.47:1 reduction.

Third Gear:
Most automatic transmissions have a 1:1 ratio in third gear. All we have to do is
engage the clutches that lock each of the sun gears to the turbine. If both sun gears
turn in the same direction, the planet gears lockup because they can only spin in
opposite directions. This locks the ring gear to the planets and causes everything to
spin as a unit, producing a 1:1 ratio.

By definition, an overdrive has a faster output speed than input speed. It's a speed
increase. When overdrive is engaged, a shaft that is attached to the housing of the
torque converter (which is bolted to the flywheel of the engine) is connected by
clutch to the planet carrier. The small sun gear freewheels, and the larger sun gear is
held by the overdrive band. Nothing is connected to the turbine; the only input
comes from the converter housing. With the planet carrier for input, the sun gear
fixed and the ring gear for output, referring to table 1 the gear ratio is:
1 / (1 + S/R) = 1 / (1 + 36/72) = 0.67:1

Reverse is very similar to first gear, except that instead of the small sun gear being
driven by the torque converter turbine, the bigger sun gear is driven, and the small
one freewheels in the opposite direction. The planet carrier is held by the reverse
band to the housing. So, referring to table 1, the gear ratio is:
-R/S = -72/36 = -2.0:1
So the ratio in reverse is a little less than first gear.

The hydraulic system provides the pressurized fluid to operate an automatic
transmission.Major components of the hydraulic system include the bands, clutches
and oil pump. Other major components are the governor, throttle valve, modulator
and the valve body.
The effective operation of an automatic transmission relies upon a hydraulic control
system to actuate the gear changes relative to vehicles road speed and acceleration
pedal demands with engine delivering power.
The system performs the following functions,
Supplies fluid to the torque converter.
Directs pressurized fluid to the bands and clutches.
Lubricates the internal parts.
Transmission fluid serves a number of purposes including:
Shift control.
General lubrication
Transmission cooling.
Unlike the engine, which uses oil primarily for lubrication, every aspect of a
transmission's functions is dependant on a constant supply of fluid under pressure.
This is not unlike the human circulatory system where even a few minutes of
operation when there is a lack of pressure can be harmful or even fatal to the life of
the transmission. A typical transmission has an average of ten litres of fluid between
the transmission, torque converter, and cooler tank. In fact, most of the components


of a transmission are constantly submerged in fluid including the clutch packs and
bands. The friction surfaces on these parts are designed to operate properly only
when they are submerged in oil.
In order to keep the transmission at normal operating temperature, a portion of the
fluid is sent through one of two steel tubes to a special chamber that is submerged
in the radiator. Fluid passing through this chamber is cooled and then returned to
the transmission through the other steel tube.



For the change of gears, lots of things have to be connected and disconnected. The
clutches connect different members to be driven and the bands hold the required
member stationary. The hydraulic system controls which clutches and bands are
energized at any given moment. The hydraulic system receives information from
the governor and throttle cable or vacuum modulator.

Fig.6.1 Clutch
A clutch consists of alternating disks that fit inside a clutch drum. As shown in
fig.6.1 half of the disks are steel and have splines that lock on the inside of the
drum. The other half have a friction material bonded to their surface and have
splines on the inside edge that lock onto one of the gears. There is a piston inside
the drum that is activated by oil pressure at the appropriate time to squeeze the
clutch pack together so that the two components become locked and turn as one.
In this transmission, when overdrive is engaged, a shaft that is attached to the
housing of the torque converter (which is bolted to the flywheel of the engine) is
connected by clutch to the planet carrier. The small sun gear freewheels, and the


larger sun gear is held by the overdrive band. Nothing is connected to the turbine;
the only input comes from the converter housing.
6.2 BANDS:

Fig.6.2 Band
A band is a steel strap with friction material bonded to the inside surface. Fig.6.2
shows the band and its servo. One end of the band is anchored against the
transmission case while the other end is connected to a servo. At the appropriate
time hydraulic oil is sent to the servo under pressure to tighten the band around the
drum to stop it from turning, thus locking that part of the gear train to the casing.
The band in a transmission are,literally,steel bands that wrap around
sections of the gear train and connect to the housing.They are actuated by hydraulic
cylinder inside the case of transmission.The metal rod is connected to the piston
which actuates the band.



The automatic transmission systems use a gear pump. The gear pump is responsible
for producing all the oil pressure that is required in the transmission. The oil pum is

Fig.6.3 Gear pump from an automatic transmission

mounted to the front of the transmission case and is directly connected to a flange
on the torque converter housing. Since the torque converter housing is directly
connected to the engine crankshaft, the pump will produce pressure whenever the
engine is running as long as there is a sufficient amount of transmission fluid
available. The oil enters the pump through a filter that is located at the bottom of
the transmission oil pan and travels up a pickup tube directly to the oil pump. The
oil is then sent, under pressure to the pressure regulator, the valve body and the rest
of the components, as required.



The pumps output pressure will increase roughly in proportion to the engines
speed. However, the pressure necessary to actuate the various valves and to energise
the clutch and band servo pistons will vary under different work conditions.
Therefore the fluid pressure generated by the pump, is unlikely to suit the many
operating requirements. To overcome these difficulties, a pressure regulating valve
is used which automatically adjusts the pumps output pressure to match the
working requirements at any one time. The pressure regulating valve is normally a
spring-loaded spool type valve.
As pump pressure builds up with rising engine speed, line pressure is conveyed to
the rear face of the plunger and will progressively move the plunger forward against
a control spring, causing the exhaust port to be uncovered, which feeds back to the
pump intake. Hence as the pump output pressure tends to rise, more fluid is passed
back to the suction intake of the pump, thus regulating the fluid pressure. To enable
the line pressure to be varied to suit the operating conditions, a throttle pressure is
introduced to the spring end of the plunger, which opposes the line pressure.



Fig.6.4 The governor

The governor tells the transmission how fast the car is moving. The governor is
connected to the output shaft and regulates hydraulic pressure based on vehicle
speed. It accomplishes this using centrifugal force to spin a pair of weights against
pull-back springs. As the weights pull further out against the springs, more oil
pressure is allowed past the governor to act on the shift valves that are in the valve
body which then signal the appropriate shifts.


Vehicle speed is not the only thing that controls when a transmission should shift,
the load that the engine is under is also important. The more loads you place on the
engine, the longer the transmission will hold a gear before shifting to the next one.


The throttle valve and modulator serve the purpose of monitoring engine load. A
transmission will use one or the other but generally not both of these devices. Each
works in a different way to monitor engine load.
The Throttle Cable simply monitors the position of the accelerator pedal through a
cable that runs from the gas pedal to the throttle valve in the valve body. The further
the gas pedal is pressed, the more pressure is put on the throttle valve.
Engine vacuum reacts very accurately to engine load with high vacuum produced
when the engine is under light load and diminishing down to zero vacuum when the
engine is under a heavy load. The vacuum modulator is attached to the outside of
the transmission case and has a shaft which passes through the case and attaches to
the throttle valve in the valve body.


The valve body is the brain of the automatic transmission. It contains a maze of
channels and passages that direct hydraulic fluid to the numerous valves which then
activate the appropriate clutch pack or band servo to smoothly shift to the
appropriate gear for each driving situation. Each of the many valves in the valve
body has a specific purpose and is named for that function. For example the 1-2
shift valve activates the 1st gear to 2nd gear up-shift.
The manual valve is directly connected to the gear shift handle and covers and
uncovers various passages depending on what position the gear shift is placed in. If
the gear shift lever is moved in the 1st gear or 2nd gear position, the up-shift and
down-shift are inhibited by the manual valve.
Shift valves, as shown in fig. 8 supply hydraulic pressure to the clutches and bands
to engage each gear. The valve body of the transmission contains several shift
valves. The shift valve determines when to shift from one gear to the next. The shift
valve is pressurized with fluid from the governor on one side, and the throttle valve
on the other. The shift valve will delay a shift if the car is accelerating quickly. If
the car accelerates gently, the shift will occur at a lower speed.
When the car accelerates gently, as car speed increases, the pressure from the
governor builds. This forces the shift valve over until the first gear circuit is closed,
and the second gear circuit opens. Since the car is accelerating at light throttle, the
throttle valve does not apply much pressure against the shift valve.


Fig.7.1 Simple shift circuit

When the car accelerates gently, as car speed increases, the pressure from the
governor builds. This forces the shift valve over until the first gear circuit is closed,
and the second gear circuit opens. Since the car is accelerating at light throttle, the
throttle valve does not apply much pressure against the shift valve.
When the car accelerates quickly, the throttle valve applies more pressure against
the shift valve. This means that the pressure from the governor has to be higher (and
therefore the vehicle speed has to be faster) before the shift valve moves over far
enough to engage second gear.
Each shift valve responds to a particular pressure range; so when the car is going
faster, the 2-to-3 shift valve will take over, because the pressure from the governor
is high enough to trigger that valve.



1. It minimizes driver fatigue, especially in heavy traffic by eliminating the need
to operate the clutch pedal and gear lever for starting from rest and changing gear.
2. It contributes to safer driving because the concentration of the driver is not
disturbed by the need to change gear; also, both hands can remain on the steering
3. Progress can be smoother under normal driving conditions, because gear
changes will occur at the theoretically correct moment in terms of road speed and
throttle opening.
1. Cars with automatic transmission are costlier than those having manual
2. Fuel economy of cars with automatic transmission is not very good.



The automatic transmission with its torque converter and planetary gear set, can
successfully replace the clutch and the manual transmission gear box.

The planetary gear set gives the required gear ratios and the hydraulic system
controls the planetary gear set.
Automatic transmission system shifts the gears automatically, depending upon
both, speed of vehicle and load on the engine.
However in cases like, descending hills, when it is desirable to employ a lower
gear, though the load on the engine maybe nil or the engine maybe acting as a
brake, the human element has to be retained in control.


Electronically controlled transmissions, which appear on some newer cars,

still use hydraulics to actuate the clutches and bands, but each hydraulic
circuit is controlled by an electric solenoid. This simplifies the plumbing on
the transmission and allows for more advanced control schemes.

However automatic transmission system is very heavy. So it is very

necessary to reduce its weight for improving overall car performance. Now
a days some companys engineers keenly work on fiber or plastic body and
some parts of transmission system.



1. William





L. Anglin,



Transmissions, Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Co., Sixth Edition, 1996.

2. John Fenton, Handbook of Automotive Powertrains and Chassis Design,
Professional Engineering Publishing Ltd., First Published 1998.
3. Heinz Heisler, Advanced Vehicle Technology, Butterworth-Heinemann
Publishers, Second Edition 2002.
4. www.familycar.com
5. www.howstuffworks.com
6. www.edmunds.com
7. Dr.kirapal singh automatic transmission,edition 2006