Which is Better? The Pros and Cons of Manual and Automatic Transmissions

Some debates never go away. Which is the better drink: Coke or Pepsi? Which is the better computer: Mac or PC? Which is the better transmission: automatic or manual? When it comes to the type of transmission, the debate can continue-but you still need to buy a car. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of both automatic and manual transmissions and decide which is right for you.

PROS OF A MANUAL TRANSMISSION
  1. Cheaper – Manual transmissions have historically been cheaper than their automatic counterparts. A car of the same make and model with an automatic transmission can cost $1000 more than a manual transmission. Manual transmissions have fewer complicated parts that are easier to produce, making them less costly for you.
  2. Better Gas Millage – Drivers with a manual transmission have more control over how their vehicle drives. A stick-shift driver, with skill and practice, can reduce how much gas their car burns. Typically, manual transmissions have a 3-4 miles-per-gallon advantage over their automatic rivals.
  3. Easier to Maintain – With fewer moving parts, a stick shift has the advantage of being easy to maintain. Manual transmissions require less servicing to remain functional and don’t need the same type of oil as an automatic transmission. Cars with a stick-shift usually last longer than an automatic of the same make and model.
  4. More Control – Perhaps the number one reason drivers prefer the manual transmission is the sense of control they feel over the vehicle. A stick-shift can give drivers an advantage in bad weather conditions or on a hill, as they can shift to the best gear at will.

Many drivers also feel more connected with their car, making driving far more enjoyable.

CONS OF A MANUAL TRANSMISSION
  1. Harder to Find – One of the major downsides is that manual transmissions are becoming less popular overtime. As a result, there aren’t as many manual transmissions being produced. Most stick-shifts are now found in small cars or sports cars.
  2. High Focus – Manual transmissions require a greater amount of focus and thought while driving. New drivers and those who can’t multi-task have a much harder time with a stick-shift. Some people also aren’t physically able to handle a clutch while driving, making a manual transmission potentially more dangerous.
PROS OF AN AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
  1. Easier to Drive – One of the biggest reasons drivers prefer an automatic is that they are easier to drive. Drivers are able to focus on the road rather than on which gear they are in. Different traffic situations, like stop-and-go traffic, can be easier to handle because there is no need to keep shifting to match the speed of surrounding cars. An automatic is relaxing to drive, as you don’t need to use every hand and foot to drive the car.
  2. More Power – Automatic transmissions are able to get more power out of their engines than manual transmissions. Automatics set up the gears differently to increase the amount of surface contact between each gear. This spreads out the torque load, increasing the engine’s overall power.
  3. Better Acceleration- Modern automatics have better acceleration than manual transmissions. By using the best computers, automatics change gears faster than a human can. Automatic transmissions can propel the car faster than a manual can.
  4. More Innovation – Because automatics are in higher demand, there is more innovation for automatics. They might even catch up to manual transmissions when it comes to performance. The assumption that a manual will cost less or have better fuel efficiency is already being challenged by new models of automatic transmissions.
  5. Greener – Many of the new hybrid cars only offer an automatic transmission. If you want a manual transmission, you are limited to a select number of models. Oftentimes, you must order a hybrid with a manual transmission, which significantly increases the price of the car.
CONS OF AN AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
  • Higher Maintenance Cost – Automatic transmissions are generally more complicated than manual transmissions. They will need more frequent and more expensive maintenance. Automatics have a relatively shorter lifetime than manuals of the same make and model.
  • Less Control – Unlike manual transmission, automatic transmission offers the driver a limited sense of control. For example, an automatic can’t gear down to slow the car, which is useful in a hilly area and prevents wear on your brakes. In fact there are a number of tricks that experienced stick-shift drivers use to reduce costs and wear on their car that are impossible for drivers of automatics.

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