How Automatic Transmissions Work

Third Gear

Most automatic transmissions have a 1:1 ratio in third gear. You'll remember from the previous section that all we have to do to get a 1:1 output is lock together any two of the three parts of the planetary gear. With the arrangement in this gearset it is even easier — all we have to do is engage the clutches that lock each of the sun gears to the turbine.

If both sun gears turn in the same direction, the planet gears lockup because they can only spin in opposite directions. This locks the ring gear to the planets and causes everything to spin as a unit, producing a 1:1 ratio.

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