The Pros and Cons of Manual Transmissions

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Used automatic transmissions

There are two types of auto transmissions: manual transmissions (which used to be referred to as standard) and automatic transmissions (which are actually far more common today). Automatics outnumber manuals 10 to 1 in new cars. So why would anyone choose to drive stick shift? Here are a few pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Better Control:
    Drivers who choose stick shift cars frequently feel more connected to their car and the road. Those who prefer manual transmissions also like that they can control the gear shifting to account for terrain or conditions.
  2. Fuel Economy:
    If properly used, transmissions that are manual, instead of automatic, allow you to get better gas mileage out of your vehicle. Automatic transmissions waste more power, which translates into your needing to fuel up more often. Depending on the type of driving you do, you could save up to 15% on fuel costs.
  3. Cheaper Purchase Price:
    Manual transmissions often cost several thousand dollars less than their automatic counterparts, even when you’re looking at the same model and year. That’s a thousand dollars you can use for other driving-related costs such as fuel and repairs.

Cons

  1. Harder to Learn:
    Driving stick shift is a skill, and it can be difficult for some people to learn. If you’re struggling, make sure you’re comfortable driving an automatic first, so that you don’t need to worry about your steering and general driving skills. Then focus on listening to the engine of your standard transmission car, putting in plenty of practice on back roads or in parking lots so you don’t stall on the freeway and get into an accident.
  2. Repairs Over the Years:
    Transmission problems are some of the most expensive fixes, regardless of what kind of car you drive. Manual transmissions repair bills are often lower than their automatic counterparts, since complex computer controls don’t need to be examined. But manual transmissions may need service more often, and you’ll also need to think about servicing and replacing the clutch.
  3. Less Convenience:
    It’s more work, pressing down the clutch and changing gears frequently. If you need to start, stop or change speeds frequently (in rush-hour traffic, for example), this can become tiring or downright painful. If you do many road trips, you’ll also want to make sure your manual transmission also has cruise control.

Which do you prefer, automatic or manual transmissions? Share your reasons in the comments.

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