Standard transmissions on the very first driven vehicles consisted of one forward gear and one reverse gear. Since their beginnings over 100 years ago, they have come a long way to say the least. In terms of machinery and vehicles, I don’t think Henry Ford ever thought one day the modern automobile could have so many advancements. DVD players, navigation systems, electronic suspension, and blazing top speeds are a stark contrast to the 20 mph top-speed of their predecessor over 100 years prior.
The axle and differential assembly, which we discussed in prior issues, had a lot to do with the gearing and top speed of a vehicle, but the transmission is the main contributing factor. In this column, transmissions for light-duty diesel pickups will be discussed and more particularly manual transmissions. First we will review the advances which have been made in standard transmissions over the years and along the way we will dissect all of a manual transmission’s intricate parts and compare gear ratios.