Manual Versus Automatic Transmissions

Is driving a car with a manual transmission more economical than one with an automatic transmission? The answer lies in being able to distinguish myth from fact

In the automotive world, it’s an enduring argument that may only reach a conclusion should auto manufacturers completely shift away from offering standard vehicles in North America: the manual versus automatic transmission divide.

Year-over-year, there are fewer cars and trucks sold with manual transmissions. Even high-end sports cars more commonly have automatic transmissions than in years past. Though stick shift adherents will insist there are considerable financial benefits to owning a car with a manual transmission, many of their arguments don’t hold up anymore.

Stick Shift Myths
Drivers who drive vehicles with manual transmissions are passionate about being stick shifters, and for good reason. If you know how to operate a manual transmission, it adds to the enjoyment of cruising the tar plains.

However, when it comes to defending the benefits or differences between automatic or manual transmissions, there are more myths than facts fans of standard transmissions tend to cling to, including:

  • You have better control of your car especially in the wintertime
  • Vehicles with manual transmissions cost less to purchase and maintain
  • Cars with manual transmissions are more fuel efficient
  • They deter thieves from attempting to steal your car
  • They’re ideal for sports cars or vehicles hauling heavy loads
  • Slowing your car by downshifting instead of braking preserves the brake pads
  • You pay more attention to driving because both of your hands are required to drive

These pro-manual arguments have been in vogue for decades, and at one time, there was some validity to them. But the advancements in automotive technology and automatic transmissions is such that these viewpoints have little or no basis in fact or any scientific evidence to support them.

For instance, fuel mileage has dramatically improved in modern automatic transmissions, and it’s significantly cheaper to replace brake pads than a manual transmission. The cost of transmission repairs in either manual or automatic transmissions is, for the most part, comparable. Arguments to the contrary are beginning to slip like a worn-out gearbox.

Of all the pro-manual arguments above, there is one possible exception that may be true: In our mobile device-obsessed world, you’d need to be an expert juggler to drive a standard vehicle and play with a mobile phone at the same time. Texting and driving are illegal. Chalk one up for stick enthusiasts for promoting safe driving.

Automatic Transmissions Are the New “Standard”
Though it is fun to drive a car with a manual transmission, that may be the only legitimate argument stick enthusiasts can make. That’s because the technology in today’s cars is at exceptional levels of intricacy. As a result, it could be argued that today’s automatic transmissions are the “standard” in almost all vehicles.

Have questions about automatic or manual transmissions? Bring your car to Mister Transmission and talk to one of our experts to get the answers you need. Find a location nearest you.

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