How Manual Transmissions Work: Explained in an Easy Way

If you are driving a stick shift transmission car, you will have a lot of questions floating in your mind like “How does a manual transmission work?”, “What is moving inside the manual transmission when moving the shifter?”. In this article, we will answer all questions related to manual transmission and give you a basic knowledge of every vital components in your car’s drivetrain. Let’s go!

What is Manual Transmission? (Shift Stick)

Before find out the answer for the question “How does a manual transmission work?“, you should understand about what manual transmission is.  Manual transmission or a stick-shift or manual gearbox or a standard transmission is a type of transmission which the driver uses a stick to change gears literally. In the past, manual cars often had a dash-mounted shifter or a steering column but nowadays, in modern vehicles, the gear stick is mounted vertically in the center console and linked to the transmission through a linkage.

What is manual transmission?
What is manual transmission?

Changing gears requires the clutch disc (which is located between the transmission and the engine) to be released through a 3rd pedal situated on the left of the brake. Then releasing the clutch, selecting the chosen gear and engaging the clutch again. From a standstill, the disc will be wear out early if the driver engage the clutch too slow. And if the driver engage the clutch too quick, it will make the engine to stall.
Studying how to drive a manual car takes more time than studying how to drive a automatic car, but it is funner and easier than it sounds. When driving a car with manual transmission, you will feel there is a connection between you and your car that is too hard to reproduce with an automatic transmission car. And another cool thing is that if you can operate a manual transmission, you will be able to run any type of vehicle.
Normally, a base-model vehicle is equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission. In more expensive vehicles, a 6-speed transmission is equipped instead.

Various Parts of a Manual Gearbox

These brief descriptions about the gear and hardware of the gearbox will help you comprehend the complex way it works.

manual gearbox
Various components of a manual gearbox. (photo credit: ZF)

1. Clutch and Clutch Pedal

Consisting of various small components, the clutch transmits engine torque to the transmission. The clutch pedal is a hydraulically controlled piece of gear that disengages the clutch when you depress it.

2. Flywheel

The circular mass sends engine torque to the clutch disc that interacts with a smooth surface of the wheel.

3. Selector Fork and Collar

It’s an arm-like piece of gear that helps in moving the collars along the output shaft. On the other hand, you can select different gears with the collar by locking it to a particular gear, resulting in passing the torque to the output shaft from the layshaft.

4. Synchronizers

These help the gear and the collar to engage with each other and match their speed in case if there’s a difference.

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5. Layshaft and Output Shaft

The layshaft’s gears mesh with the output shaft’s gears when the first one receives the engine power.

6. Gears

You will find gears of various sizes in a manual gearbox. Larger ones have more teeth and provide more torque to curtail the car’s speed while the smaller ones produce less torque so that your vehicle can run at high speed.

How does a manual transmission work?
The working mechanism of a manual transmission. (photo source: Getty Images)

How Does A Manual Transmission Work?

So, with all your newfound knowledge, let’s find out what happens when you shift gears in your manual car and see how manual transmission works.

● You have to press down the clutch pedal to disengage the clutch before switching the vehicle’s key on. It will cut the power between the transmission and the input shaft of the engine. As a result, the engine will be alive without powering up the entire vehicle.

● Move the gearshift into first gear, which is located in the output shaft, so that the shifting fork advance towards the latter one. The first gear is connected to a layshaft gear. The layshaft, on the other hand, has a connection to the input shaft of the engine through another gear.

● There’s a synchronizer collar attached to the shifting fork. It helps the driving gear to transport power to the output shaft and sync up their speeds if there’s a difference. You put the vehicle in gear when this collar locks with the first gear, which is in a secure attachment to the output shaft.

● Now, put a slight pressure on the gas pedal and take the foot off the clutch. It will reconnect the engine with the gearbox. Then, the vehicle will start moving forward.

● Shift to the second gear after pushing the clutch to go faster. It will disconnect the power between the engine and the transmission gearbox. You just need to repeat this process to change the gear so that you can slow down or speed up the car.

Watch the video below to have a better knowledge about “How does a manual transmission work:

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Hopefully through this article, you will get to know the answer of the question “How does a manual transmission work?”. If you have any question about manual transmission, stick shift transmission, feel free to leave us a comment below. And keep reading on us to get more car maintenance tips updated everyday.