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RainbowDragon
04-28-2007, 12:14 AM
How can you tell how many speeds a car's factory-installed automatic transmission has?

Gary
04-28-2007, 01:19 AM
You would have to read the specifications of the exact car in question. They vary with each manufacturer and even within manufacturers and models, depending on which engine you buy.

Most modern moderately priced and expensive cars have either 5 or 6 speeds. Earlier models had 3 or 4. Some cars today have what is called a CVT, which is an automatic transmission that has variable speeds.

I'd suggest going to a website like: www.edmunds.com and read about the exact model. If they don't have it, most of that information can be had from the manufacturers website.

RainbowDragon
04-28-2007, 01:39 AM
Edmunds shows a lot of useful info, but number of speeds isn't listed. It's also not listed under the hood, in the car manual, etc. It's a secret. Can you tell just by the number of positions on the shifter??

Jamesaritchie
04-28-2007, 01:44 AM
Can you tell just by the number of positions on the shifter??

Yes. This is usually the easiest way. But the only time you use a forward gear other "drive" is when you're climbing steep hills or mountains.

benbradley
04-28-2007, 01:58 AM
If this helps, you may be able to determine it experimentally. If the shifting is rough enough, you can feel each shift and count them as you accellerate onto a highway. If the car as a tachometer, you can see the engine speed drop as the transmission shifts. For this you might want to keep your eyes on the road and have a passenger observe the tach as you accelerate. The number of speeds is of course one more than the number of shifts.

RainbowDragon
04-28-2007, 02:21 AM
Yes. This is usually the easiest way. But the only time you use a forward gear other "drive" is when you're climbing steep hills or mountains.

So if it has D 2 and L (or 1) is it always a 3-speed or can it also be 4-speed? This is what's confusing me. . .

RainbowDragon
04-28-2007, 02:23 AM
If this helps, you may be able to determine it experimentally. If the shifting is rough enough, you can feel each shift and count them as you accellerate onto a highway. If the car as a tachometer, you can see the engine speed drop as the transmission shifts. For this you might want to keep your eyes on the road and have a passenger observe the tach as you accelerate. The number of speeds is of course one more than the number of shifts.

Any easy way without a tachometer? :)

Gary
04-28-2007, 02:36 AM
What make, model and engine option is it?

RainbowDragon
04-28-2007, 02:42 AM
Geo Metro '97 Lsi hatchback? Also ford focus '01 se? They both have the same sort of shifter but I can't tell by driving if one or both are 4-speed, and I'm trying to learn how to tell in any car if it's possible. . .

jclarkdawe
04-28-2007, 05:19 AM
I'd contact the dealer.

guessing, I'd say they are probably three speeds. If it's marked with 1 and 2 for low gears, it still might have a 3 and 4, and you can't tell without either being a tech or driving them. With experience, you can tell, although torque converters can cause you some problems. A tach makes it easier.

One way to test is find an empty stretch of highway (and when I say empty, I mean empty) that is level or slightly rising. Pull your car over to the side, come to a full stop, and put your transmission in park. Now put your car in drive, and accelerate as fast as possible. Do not take your foot off of the gas pedal.

Your engine should wind up to a fairly high RPM before shifting, which should produce a noticable drop on a tach, a change in the engine noise, and also a thump as it changes gear. It will run through three gears on its way up to 70 mph (providing that's your legal speed limit). At 70 mph, when you take your foot off the gas pedal, you'll have to notice whether it makes a big drop in engine speed (which means you have another gerar).

It's easier to talk to a service rep at the dealership.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Kentuk
04-28-2007, 08:03 AM
You have a Metro with an automatic transmission? It would have only three speeds, same as the Focus.

RainbowDragon
04-28-2007, 08:27 PM
Thanks Kentuk, funny thing is I only noticed it after getting a salvage transmission installed in the metro (almost at 250K miles!), then I was just sure I had a 4-speed before that, but turns out more likely it was always 3. Which might make for an amusing article :)

Sean D. Schaffer
04-28-2007, 08:52 PM
How can you tell how many speeds a car's factory-installed automatic transmission has?


That depends on the car and the tranny. My old 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle had a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic (sp?) 350, while earlier Chevelles might have had a 2-speed Powerglide. These days, I've heard of factory-installed 4-speed and even 5-speed automatic transmissions. But again, it depends upon the car and the transmissions available to the particular model.

WildScribe
04-28-2007, 08:57 PM
I have a 2001 Civic with a manual transmission. It has 5 forward gears, plus reverse.

ETA: Nevermind, you wanted automatic. :)