Each driver has his or her own preferences. You can put 10 drivers in a room and get 11 opinions on what is most important when it comes to car ownership. One of the most divisive topics among drivers is which type of transmission is better, manual or automatic. A manual transmission, also called a clutch, stick or standard transmission, is usually favored by car purists. Automatic transmissions are favored by people that do not like the hassle of shifting when they drive.
What follows is a look at the benefits and downsides of both transmission types. Choosing a transmission comes down to personal preference. A look at three important aspects of driving can help you determine which type of transmission makes more sense for your next car.
Driving a manual transmission includes more control over shifting and revving the engine. Since an automatic transmission will shift for you, you will not retain control over moving between gears. This lack of control drives most car enthusiasts crazy. Less control over the shifting pattern of your car means more gas getting used by default. When an engine begins to rev up, the sound means more gasoline is being pumped or injected into the engine.
Since an automatic transmission shifts at factory set defaults, your car may spin out to the top of each gear before shifting. This is not exactly good for the fuel economy of your car. Driving a clutch means you will be able to shift at lower RPMs, or revolutions per minute. This improves the fuel economy of most cars and gives manual transmission an edge for this category.
Best choice for fuel economy: Manual
Ease of Driving
Some people make quite a big deal out of being able to drive a stick shift. The process is not actually so complicated. One foot moves forward while your hand moves, then the other foot moves forward. It may take a while to master the timing of your shift pattern in a new car. Some clutches are very sensitive and require exact timing. Other clutches are so open that you can shift at a slow, clunky pace without ever damaging the engine.
That said, driving an automatic removes this learning curve completely. If you can play a driving video game, you can drive an automatic.
Best choice for ease of driving: Automatic
Cost, Maintenance and Repair
The cost of gas with a manual transmission is lower, but what about repairs? It depends on how much attention you pay to your transmission. Routine servicing of the clutch, flywheel and other components is very manageable, though replacing a complete manual transmission is just as expensive as replacing an automatic transmission. An automatic transmission service must be done every 60,000 miles or so.
In other words, if you like to work on your own engine and understand gear shift timing issues, you will be able to save when you own a manual transmission. If you are clueless about transmissions, both will cost about the same.
Best choice for cost, maintenance and repair: Depends on the driver
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Robert Seitzinger is a copywriter for Larry’s Transmission, which offers the finest transmission repair Portland drivers of both manual and automatic transmissions will find.