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Monday, November 15, 2004

Gearboxes for manual vehicles

Automobiles play a very important part in our life, such a very important role that it is quite impossible to imagine our lives nowadays without them. Like any man made product, the automobile is developed around several issues amongst which the ‘Health and Safety’. In fact all the parts of an automobile are or should be constructed in such a way that they reduced the risk of damage on users’ health in case of an accident or any other incident or even the risk of accidents altogether.

The way the vehicles are used is left to users but some guidelines can be applied in their construction in order to reduce the possibility of erroneous use and avoid some mistakes that could damage the car and possibly its user and also damage others and the environment (the use of airbags, seat belts, etc…).

The “gearbox” is a very important part in the working of vehicle and can play a vital role in the safety. How many times did we see people inadvertently reversing into other people’s vehicles thinking they were in first gear and wanting to move forward? Or a gearbox being damage or completely broken down and therefore the vehicle not been able to be driven because a user entered the wrong gear (for example from 1st to 4th gear).

Constructors recognised that these where real issues and modified their design to add some constraints that will force the user to go through specific processes in order to ensure that the action to be taken is safe. Examples can be taken from Audi cars, where like in must cars to enter the reverse gear the vehicle must be stopped before the operation can be carried through, but unlikely many cars when entering the reverse gear you must first press the gear stick down before following into the appropriate location (this makes that you will be fully aware of the action being taken at the time and it is intended); and when the car is going forward and you are still on 1st gear for example, the engine will not let you entered the 2nd gear when the vehicle is not ready i.e. when the correct speed is reached by the engine. This has been made utterly seamless and jolt free in the Audi TT.

Having owned an Audi 90 myself, I can tell that lots of “accidents” could be definitely avoided if all gearbox constructors lift their standard to the Audis and other well known brands that implement the guidelines above mentioned. Or maybe the ‘Automatic gearbox’ is the best way forward towards fewer accidents caused by an erroneous use of gearboxes.

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