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How Does an Automatic Car Work?

Automatic cars have become increasingly popular in the United Kingdom due to their convenience and ease of use. Unlike manual cars, which require the driver to manually shift gears, automatic cars have a transmission system that does the shifting for you. This article will explain the inner workings of an automatic car, providing a better understanding of how they operate.

An automatic car uses a torque converter in place of a clutch to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. The torque converter is a fluid coupling that allows the engine to keep running even when the car is stopped. This eliminates the need for the driver to depress the clutch pedal when coming to a stop or when starting from a standstill.

Inside the transmission, there are planetary gear sets that work together to provide different gear ratios. These gear ratios determine how fast the car can go and how efficiently it can use its power. The gears are shifted automatically by the car’s computer, which monitors various factors such as speed, throttle position, and engine load to determine the optimal gear for any given situation.

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Automatic cars also have a device called a torque converter lockup clutch, which locks the torque converter to the transmission input shaft. This provides a direct mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels, improving fuel efficiency and reducing heat build-up in the transmission.


1. Are automatic cars more expensive to buy in the UK?
Automatic cars tend to be slightly more expensive than their manual counterparts due to the additional technology and complexity involved in their transmission system.

2. Do automatic cars require a different driving license in the UK?
No, you can drive both manual and automatic cars with a standard UK driving license.

3. Can you manually shift gears in an automatic car?
Some automatic cars come with a manual mode, allowing the driver to manually shift gears if desired.

4. Is it easier to drive an automatic car in the UK?
Many people find automatic cars easier to drive, especially in heavy traffic or hilly areas, as there is no need to constantly engage and disengage the clutch.

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5. Do automatic cars have better fuel efficiency in the UK?
In general, manual cars tend to have better fuel efficiency. However, advancements in automatic transmission technology have significantly narrowed the gap in recent years.

6. Can automatic cars be more expensive to maintain in the UK?
Automatic cars may require more frequent fluid changes and maintenance compared to manual cars, which can make them slightly more expensive to maintain.

7. Are automatic cars safer in the UK?
Automatic cars can be considered safer as they eliminate the distraction of shifting gears, allowing the driver to focus more on the road. However, both manual and automatic cars can be safe if driven responsibly.