Old Car with Gear shift on the column - Manual Transmissions, Automatic Transmissions

Automatic or Manual Transmission?

Automatic transmission vehicles are becoming the most common to drive, while manual transmissions are going more out of style. First we’ll look at the main differences then some common myths surrounding the debate of automatic vs. manual transmissions.  This will help you decide what’s best for you.

Manual Transmission

A manual transmission is controlled via the stick shift and clutch. You change gears by pushing in the clutch and moving the stick shift to the appropriate gear. In the 1940s vehicles typically had only 3 gears, but now they commonly have 6, or even 7 for many sports cars. Learning to drive a manual transmission is a bit more tricky, but once you do you can drive almost any vehicle in the world.  This is particularly useful for countries where manual transmissions are the primary type of car. Also, most people find manuals more engaging to drive.

Automatic Transmission

Automatics used to only be available in luxury model cars.  Now they’re more common than manuals and are available at a similar price point. There are two types of automatic transmission, hydraulic and dual-clutch. Both change gears without requiring anything from the driver, although now many automatics now allow you to choose gears as well. It is more difficult to stall an engine with an automatic transmission and it tends to make for smoother driving, particularly in stop-and-go traffic.
Manual Transmissions - Automatic Transmissions
Myths

  1. Manuals get better fuel mileage. This used to be the case, but with advancing technology some automatics are now even surpassing manuals in fuel efficiency.
  2. Manual vehicles cost less. While this still holds true for most models, it isn’t always the case. Some vehicle models cost the same whether they have automatic or manual transmission. And today over 50% are not even produced with manual transmissions.
  3. Automatic transmission is always an option. There are a small group of specialized vehicles that are only produced with manual transmissions, such as the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 or Ford Focus RS. Your dream car may not have an automatic option.

Which should you choose?

If you have the choice, the type of transmission you should drive depends mostly on your driving style and commute, but let’s face it, what you enjoy driving plays a huge part in your decision. If you have to go through a lot of stop-and-go traffic, an automatic is probably a better choice since you don’t have to constantly step on the clutch and shift. If you’re looking for a more dynamic experience, a manual transmission is the most interesting and fun to drive, which makes it good for longer distances. Maintenance costs are similar on both types. Although it’s typical for automatic transmissions to be easier to maintain, it really depends on the vehicle.

Do your research, check the cost of the car & maintenance; and, ultimately, choose the car that fits your lifestyle and that you will enjoy driving!

Tire Maintenance = $ Saved

Buying new tires for your vehicle is an expense we’d all like to avoid as much as possible. Luckily, there are some simple tire maintenance tasks and driving habits you can practice to
extend the life of your tires.

Tire MainOld rusted truck tire showing poor tire maintenance.tenance

Check your tire pressure about once a month. Having the proper amount of pressure ensures against a blowout, reduces tread wear, and also prevents getting fewer miles to the gallon due to under-inflated tires. Check tire pressure in the morning while it’s still cool to get a more accurate reading. You can find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle on the driver’s side door jam. Never follow what’s written on the side of the tire, this is the maximum amount of pressure the tire can handle.

About every 5,000 miles or six months your tire maintenance should include rotating and balancing your tires to make sure they wear evenly. You can also check how often the automaker suggests rotation for your particular vehicle. Rotation is especially important for front or rear-wheel drive, when the front or back tires take the most toll. Balancing tires ensures that the heavy spots in each tire do not cause unnecessary wear and vibration. At the same time, you can also adjust the alignment of your suspension, which can cause the tires to rotate inward or outward and cause uneven wear on the tread.

And take a look at your tires. Notice if the tread is wearing low or if there are cracks in the sidewall. These can be indicators that it’s time to purchase new tires.

Driving Habits

How you drive can have a big effect on the longevity of your tires. The most important things to be aware of are starting and stopping. When starting, do not accelerSky blue Volkswagon Bug with beautiful tires and white wheels - great tire maintenance!ate too fast. The black marks on the road are caused by little bits of rubber coming off of your tire. When stopping, don’t brake to hard. This can also cause rubber to peel off of the tire. It is best to accelerate easily and brake steadily and not too fast when possible.

Tire Storage

Whether they’re mounted on your car or stacked in the garage, it’s important to store tires properly if you want them to last longer. Experts say the best place is out of the sun, away form ozone, and in a stable temperature environment. Ozone is caused by things like electric motors and furnaces, so be aware of what’s in your garage. If you’re removing the tires from your vehicle, place them in a plastic bag (airtight if possible) and stand them upright to prevent extra strain.  It’s also a good idea to clean your tires regularly and keep them dry.

Used car lot with beautiful orange BMW - car maintenance is helpful - Duramax Transmissions

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Used Car Maintenance & Warranty

Buying a used car can save you a lot of money but there are a lot of things to consider, such as how much you’re willing to spend, whether it’s in good condition, and if you want a warranty or not. Having a budget will help you narrow down your search. Keep in mind that used cars can require additional car maintenance and more money down the road. If you want a warranty, you’ll have to get a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle from a dealer. These vehicles are usually less than 5 years old and are more expensive, but, they have a long-term warranty from the manufacturer. If a warranty isn’t a big concern for you, privately-sold vehicles usually have the cheapest prices, but you’ll have to do some more homework before you buy. Even when purchasing from the dealer you can follow these steps to ensure you’re getting the used car that’s right for you.

1. Research

Look for the car brands that have good used ratings, such as Honda or Toyota, and that fall into your budget. Once you find some options, look into each vehicle’s history. All you need is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and you can find out what kind of damage the car may have taken in the past, usually for a small fee. You’ll probably want to avoid anything with a salvage title, which means was totaled in some sort of accident and the insurance company declared the repair cost worth more than the car itself. This can indicate future mechanical problems and make it more difficult to sell again. Also ask for car maintenance records as well to ensure the vehicle has been kept up properly.

2. Communicate with the seller or dealer

If you find the car in an ad, such as on craigslist or in the paper, be sure to call and talk to the seller beforehand and ask any questions you may have. You don’t want to waste time looking at the vehicle if there’s a deal breaker. Ask why the vehicle is on the market. You can use the information to prepare your offer, and you are also less likely caught off guard by something you weren’t expecting. Find out everything you can before you test drive.

3. The Test Drive

There are several things you can look for when test driving a vehicle. Talk to your mechanic or look online for common symptoms of a vehicle that needs repair. Take the car for a drive and take notice of your comfort level, any engine or warning lights, whether the AC & heater works, whether it has good visibility while driving, and if anything smells suspicious. After you drive, check under the hood and make sure nothing is steaming or smoking. You can also have your mechanic look at the vehicle for a modest fee.

4. Negotiating and Closing the Deal

After you’ve done all the research on the car and found an average paying price online or through another source, decide what you’re willing to pay ahead of time. You can make an offer that’s slightly lower, but also within reasonable price for the vehicle and its condition. Support your offer with facts and if the final offer from the seller is close to the average paid price, you’re good. As you close the deal, make sure all the titles, registrations, and warranties are properly in place from the seller.