When cars were invented, they were simple, yet complex in their own way because they were new. From the get-go, transmissions were the most complex components of a car. This great video about the 800 parts in a transmission really makes a point visually.
It’s still that way today, though computers make things a lot easier – but again, another layer of know-how and complexity is oftentimes added by technology. If you wanted to repair your transmission in 1915, chances are you were going to do it yourself, or you knew someone (not a mechanic by trade) who could do it. If you owned a car, there was a chance you were wealthy enough to have a chauffeur, who in those days doubled as a mechanic and knew how to maintain and repair the cars he drove. Mechanics by trade were not widespread, and it was not uncommon for bicycle mechanics to work on cars.
Transmissions were all manual, and their complexity (or simplicity) was dictated basically by the number of gears. Parts were not necessarily interchangeable, and might have been hand fabricated by a blacksmith or bicycle parts shop. But, manual transmissions were simple, and if you had the right tools and technical know-how, you could perform most repairs yourself.
But even then, with all the simplicity of cars and the emerging car culture of America, transmissions were the most complex part of a car any mechanic – or chauffeur – would have to deal with. Its purpose and importance then was the same as it is now.
The first line of cars to feature automatic transmissions came to market in 1938, with the Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic drives. With the advent of automatic transmissions, the need grew for specialized mechanics who knew these complicated systems inside and out.
As automatic transmissions evolved, they became more efficient, but more difficult to troubleshoot and repair. General mechanics were starting to open more shops, but the need for specialists – particularly for transmissions – was recognized by Anthony A. Martino. He, with cofounder Robert Morgan, started AAMCO transmission in 1957. The days of dropping your car’s transmission in your garage, changing out the worn parts, and lifting it back in, soon began to fade.
Today we see a vast combination of cars and technology on the roads, all of which require certain levels of expertise to maintain and repair. From a Ford Model T or a Tesla Model S, we are witnessing the evolution of not only cars, but of the various systems within them, including the transmission.
The functions and general “health” of systems, including transmissions, in today’s cars are monitored and regulated by computers. One must first know how to read computer output and understand the data being provided. Once the computer data has been translated to useful information and the problem diagnosed, repairs can begin. But not just any mechanic can repair a transmission. You need a mechanic who is certified in transmissions and has repaired numerous makes and models can honestly tell you what needs to be done and how much it is going to take.
Today it seems that the future is electric cars; but as long as there are internal combustion engines on the road, there will be transmissions. The future of the transmission definitely entails great advancements in the technology that enables automation of gears, torque, and power transfer. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) has been growing in popularity, as it is efficient in both fuel consumption and power delivery. The development of electric cars, the technology in them, and efforts to continuously improve their mileage and power will most certainly see major developments in their moving parts.
Whatever the systems and parts that make cars work, AAMCO will be there to maintain and repair them. AAMCO will continue to evolve its service offerings to meet the needs of customers and whatever they are driving. We’ve been in business since 1957 and have kept our professional, certified automobile services up to date with every advancement in technology.
Bring your car to AAMCO for a complete diagnostic to make sure it’s running safely and smoothly, today and tomorrow.
If you have questions about your car’s scheduled maintenance or any other car care and repair topics, AAMCO Minnesota can help.