How Can I Tell What Kind Of Transmission I Have? MILTA Technology

How Can I Tell What Kind Of Transmission I Have?

With the number of different transmissions on the market, we can easily understand how it might be confusing for you to determine what gearbox exactly you have. Don’t worry, you are not alone. As of now, cars not only have different transmissions based on the brand, year and model, but also the engine size and trim level.

There are several articles and guides covering this topic out there, but they all lack a few essential things that we will cover further on. Knowing what transmission you have is important because it determines the maintenance plan you have to follow.

Recognizing a manual gearbox

Let’s start off with the basics. If you are ever in the process of buying a car, do not get fooled into thinking a car with three pedals (clutch, foot brake, accelerator) is somehow semi-automatic. This might seem ridiculous but it does happen. Shady car salesmen want to attract people to their lots with all kinds of lies and tricks.

If a car has a gear shift lever with numbers indicating the gear pattern and a clutch pedal, it is a manual gearbox car, as simple as that.

Different manual gearboxes

Since there can be different versions of manual gearboxes in different model years of a car, you can follow the same principles to determine the exact version of your gearbox as we will demonstrate later with automatic transmissions. This comes in handy when early model year cars sometimes come with faulty manual gearboxes and you want to check if the car you have or are buying has the updated version of the gearbox. One such example is the 2006-2008 Renault Clio RS, where all the buyers were after the updated version of the manual gearbox.

How to know which automatic gearbox do you have

Differentiating automatic gearboxes is a bit trickier than simply figuring out you have a manual gearbox. But it is not impossible, everyone can do it. Even though they all have only two pedals in the driver’s footwell and gear shift levers with PRND letters, there are significant differences between automatic gearboxes. Those differences determine how and when your gearbox should be serviced and how it should be handled on the road.

Here is our guide to telling what kind of an automatic transmission you have:

1. Ask the seller

If you are just buying a car with an automatic gearbox, the seller at the dealership should be able to tell you the exact type and version of the automatic gearbox that the car has. Especially if this is a new car. By exact type of gearbox, we don’t only mean “yes, it’s a DSG gearbox”, we mean “yes, it has a 6 speed DSG gearbox, model 02E with a wet clutch”. They should have this information even after the sale.

If you are buying a used car, getting this information from the seller might be difficult. In that case, use one of the other methods in this guide.

2. Check the owners manual and your vehicle’s paperwork

If you already own a car with an automatic gearbox and you want to figure out the exact type of gearbox you have, checking your owners manual and car’s paperwork is a good start. While the owner’s manual does not always contain this information, most of them do. The same goes for your vehicle’s paperwork, such as the vehicle type approval certificate that contains technical data of your car and other performance standard figures.

3. White or black sticker on driver’s doors or door frame

Almost all vehicles on the roads today have a white or a black sticker placed directly on the driver’s doors or door frame. This sticker contains small lettering with your vehicle’s technical information. This includes the engine code, transmission specifications and other details. The transmission part is sometimes noted beside the “TR” symbol, but it varies from brand to brand.

4. Inspect the gearbox oil pan

This one is difficult but nonetheless a viable option. Some gearboxes do contain information about the gearbox model on the front of the gearbox oil pan. Certain gearboxes can also be recognized by the shape of the oil pan and the number of bolts holding it in place. Again, this method is certainly not for everyone but it does not hurt to know.

5. Decode the VIN number

Each vehicle on the road comes with a so-called “VIN”. VIN stands for “Vehicle Identification Number” and it contains all the information about your car. You can find this number on several locations in and on your car. You can also find it in your registration and insurance papers.

To find out what kind of a gearbox you have, you can use a free VIN decoder online or you can call your local car dealership and ask them for a favour. Any mechanic, gearbox specialist or car-parts store could also provide you with this information for free. In our opinion, this 17 character
number is the easiest and most effective way to quickly find out the exact type of your gearbox.

6. Lookup your car on Google

If everything else fails, looking up your car on Google is always a good option. Make sure you know the exact year, make, model and engine of your car in order to get the correct results.


Learning about your car’s gearbox can be greatly beneficial. If you are in the process of buying a car, learning this information is a good segway to further research about how this gearbox should have been serviced or if there are any common issues you should be aware of. Once you know the exact type of your gearbox, you can also consult a gearbox specialist to hear their opinion on the gearbox or to book an appointment. As with all things in life, the more you know, the better. This is definitely one of those things.

One comment
  1. Bonjour
    Je possède une Mercedes CLS 350cdi 4matic de l’année 2012 et je voudrais savoir c’est quoi comme boîte à vitesse automatique

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