How Does an Automatic Car Transmission Circulate Fluid?

by Brendan Malloney

Transmission fluid maintains proper engine performance while keeping transmission components cool and lubricated among other responsibilities. Significant engine damage can result from insufficient transmission fluid levels or fluid pressure in the system.

Vital Parts

After starting the engine, hydraulic fluid is sent through all elements of the transmission under pressure especially the torque converter, pressure regulator and valve body. Torque converters immediately convert engine power to the drive train while the valve body shifts engine gears in automatic transmissions and must be properly lubricated while the valve body shifts.

Fluid Circulation

The transmission oil pump pressurizes transmission fluid to circulate throughout the system and its components when the engine is operating. Once transmission fluid returns to the collector tank it passes through a filter, then is pumped back through the transmission.

Heat Exchangers

To maintain stable engine temperatures, transmission fluid passes through a heat exchanger utilizing engine antifreeze in some fashion, depending on engine design. Typical designs draw transmission fluid from the transmission and route fluid into the radiator or the coolant overflow tanks through steel tubing.

About the Author

As a professional pilot, Brendan Malloney began writing technical publications in 2006 for flight students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Some of his works include "Aerodynamics for Student Pilots" and "Understanding Federal Regulations." Brendan holds a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Vintage Car Engine image by itsallgood from Fotolia.com