How to Find Out What Transmission You Have

by Kristin Jennifer
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car stick shift image by Dimitar Atanasov from

Vehicle transmissions are either manual or automatic. Car manufacturers will change the types or designs of transmissions on different car models from year to year. Deciphering which type of transmission you have will require a small bit of sleuthing around your car and a call or a trip to your auto dealership service department. Some automakers, like General Motors, differentiate the shape of the oil pan for different transmissions. Locating the vehicles user manual is a great place to start.

Step 1

If you must shift gears yourself, you have a manual transmission. If you place your car into drive or reverse to make it move, the transmission is an automatic.

Step 2

Locate your vehicle owner's manual. The manual may indicate what type of transmission you have or may refer to both a manual and standard transmission option.

Step 3

Open the driver's side door and find the white card on the side of the door that is filled with small black lettering. This card contains specific details about the year the car was made, its transmission, engine specifications and other details. Underneath or beside the "TR" symbol will be a number code. Call your local dealership service department or auto parts retailer to inquire about the transmission related to that number.

Step 4

Lift the hood and locate the oil pan. Many GM transmissions can be identified by their oil pan. Automatic transmissions have oil pans that somewhat resemble the state of New Mexico. Notice the shape of the oil pan and if it has an odd shape, you have an automatic.

Step 5

Visit your local mechanic. If you are concerned that the transmission has been changed since the car was originally made, a mechanic can inspect the transmission and tell you what it is.

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