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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!