What does a Transmission Mechanic do?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A transmission mechanic is a person who repairs both manual and automatic transmissions in various types of vehicles. These can include general light automobiles, as well as heavier ones such as trucks, buses, sports utility vehicles, tractor-trailers, and even lawn mowers. Some transmission mechanics may specialize in automatic transmission repair only, earning the title of Automatic-Transmission Mechanic.

A woman shifting gears with a manual transmission.
A woman shifting gears with a manual transmission.

In order to diagnose a transmission in need of repair, a transmission mechanic will first attempt to drive the vehicle. During the test drive, he will listen to the engine, monitor its performance, and feel its shifting movements. If the vehicle is not safe to be driven, the transmission will simply have to be removed for both diagnosis and treatment.

Cutaway view of a transmission.
Cutaway view of a transmission.

To prepare a car for transmission removal, a transmission mechanic will raise it with a set of jacks or hoists. He or she will then remove the transmission with various hand tools, including wrenches, ratchets, pliers, and screwdrivers. Following removal, the transmission unit will be disassembled, and its worn or broken parts will be replaced.

A clutch, part of a transmission.
A clutch, part of a transmission.

After replacements are made, additional adjustments may be required for transmission equipment such as pumps, gears and bands, using various sized wrenches. Once the transmission is completely repaired, it is re-installed into the vehicle and filled with transmission fluid. Following final linkage adjustments, the mechanic will test drive the vehicle to be sure it runs properly to complete the process.

A transmission without the housing.
A transmission without the housing.

Depending on the engine's needs, the transmission mechanic may also check the carburetor, verify the idle speed of the motor, and make final adjustments. Other duties may include repairing engine electronics, drive management systems, and clutch assemblies. Completing minor repairs to electrical circuits and other systems may also fall into his or her duties.

Vocational schools that specialize in auto maintenance usually offer transmission training and certification.
Vocational schools that specialize in auto maintenance usually offer transmission training and certification.

People who may wish to become a transmission mechanic should have a good background in mathematics and physical science. An auto repair vocational program, whether in high school or college, is one of the most common ways to develop the skills needed for most mechanic jobs. An apprenticeship is then typically completed. Some mechanics start their careers as parts-runners or service writers, taking part-time courses at technical schools or community college programs at the same time.

Vehicles have either manual or automatic transmissions.
Vehicles have either manual or automatic transmissions.

Though many transmission mechanics are paid by the project or their own productivity, some earn an hourly wage. Pay tends to increase with experience. It is generally considered to be a stable job, since there is always a demand for the service.

Transmission mechanics repair various types of transmissions.
Transmission mechanics repair various types of transmissions.
Wrench sets are typically included in a transmission mechanic's toolbox.
Wrench sets are typically included in a transmission mechanic's toolbox.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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