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Automatic Transmission Computer
The computer uses sensors on the engine and transmission to detect such things as throttle position, vehicle speed, engine speed, engine load, stop light switch position, etc. to control exact shift points as well as how soft or firm the shift should be. Some computerized transmissions even learn your driving style and constantly adapt to it so that every shift is timed precisely when you would need it.
Because of computer controls, sports models are coming out with the ability to take manual control of the transmission as though it were a stick shift, allowing the driver to select gears manually. This is accomplished on some cars by passing the shift lever through a special gate, then tapping it in one direction or the other in order to up-shift or down-shift at will. The computer monitors this activity to make sure that the driver does not select a gear that could over speed the engine and damage it.
Another advantage to these "smart" transmissions is that they have a self diagnostic mode which can detect a problem early on and warn you with an indicator light on the dash. A technician can then plug test equipment in and retrieve a list of trouble codes that will help pinpoint where the problem is.
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