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How Manual Transmissions Work: Explained in an Easy Way

How Manual Transmissions Work: Explained in an Easy Way
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Automobiles need transmissions to operate at their best rpm value and to have control on the gear ratio. Every car engine has a maximum rpm value that it cannot exceed without failure or explosion. On the other hand, there’s a certain rpm value at which a car gets the maximum horsepower. You can call it as the gear ratio. So, the transmission allows you to speed up and slow down a vehicle by controlling that gear ratio. To understand how manual transmissions work, you’ll need to have the primary idea about its components and mechanism.

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.

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.


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

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.


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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Layshaft and Output Shaft

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


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.

manual transmissions
The working mechanism of a manual transmission.

How Manual Transmissions Work?

So, with all your newfound knowledge, let’s find out what happens when you shift gears in your manual car:

● 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.

What this video to have a better understanding of how manual transmissions work:

● 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.

  1. ivan says

    great.learned something

    1. Trang Tran says

      We are happy to receive your comments. Please share with your friends so they can enjoy this article, too.

  2. kondo k.kondo says

    good lesson to the users

  3. Khamis says

    Great articles, very informative

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