How Automatic Transmissions Work

Second Gear

This transmission does something really neat in order to get the ratio needed for second gear. It acts like two planetary gearsets 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, the formula is:

1 + R/S = 1 + 36/30 = 2.2:1

The planet carrier turns 2.2 times for each rotation of the small 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 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. This may sound wacky, but if you watch the video you'll get an idea of how it works.

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Move the shift lever to see how power is transmitted through the transmission.