What Is a Five-Speed Automatic Transmission?

A five-speed automatic transmission refers to the number of gears in a car's transmission. It means that the transmission has the potential to automatically switch through five gears.

In cars with manual transmissions, drivers have to physically shift through gears while driving. Automatic transmissions offer an easier driving experience. Instead of physically shifting gears, drivers can simply put the car in drive, press the pedals and steer.

Automatic transmissions were developed during the 1920s, but did not become popular until 1950s. Today, most car manufacturers offer this gear system. During the early years of its creation, automatic transmissions had a maximum of three gears, but advancements in automotive engineering resulted in cars with five standard gears. Some vehicles can have up to eight or more gears.

Gears are important in driving because they affect the efficiency of a car. The higher the gear, the quicker the vehicle speed and the less work the engine has to do. Having a five-speed automatic transmission helps boost a car's fuel economy. However, not many drivers reach the fifth gear within the city. In most cars with a five-gear system, switching to the fourth gear is often enough for most travel.