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What to choose: Manual Gearbox or Automatic Gearbox?

Updated on March 24, 2017

Which kind of car to choose? The first question raised even before you own a car license. Do I choose the used one, the old one, a brand new, the luxury limo, the sport one, etc? Aside from the financial issues and possibilities you have, the first thing you should do is taking a look to the manual gearbox and automatic gearbox.

This is a question that many throw when they are about to choose a new car, or even a used one for their everyday life. But before you choose which car does the job for you, you may want to take in consideration a few things that will have an impact on your choice, the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of gearbox.

The Manual Gearbox Car

First of all you need to know the advantages of a manual gearbox instead of an automatic one.

The manual gearbox cars, as all of us may have noticed, cost less than those with automatic gearbox, even though in some cases such as luxury saloon or the latest sports cars, the automatic gearbox is a standard without giving you much options to choose from, but considering the luxury prices, the gearbox is nearly insusceptible.

The manual gearboxes, in general, weight less than the automatic ones. The weight difference varies from 20 kg to 40 kg [which means 44 lbs to 88 lbs], and this means less weight for the car in general. They are far more simple and they do not need much maintaince which means less costs when it comes to fix any problem they may have. The manual gearboxes have the reputation of being more economic, especially those with 6 gears where you can use the sixth gear in the highway wich means that the engine will rev at about 1700-2000 rpm making the journey more comfortable and using less fuel at the same time

Porsche and Corvette have came up with the manual gearboxes with 7 gears, even though for these kind of cars is kind of funny to talk about prices, anyway they remain effective. Lastly, the manual gearboxes have the “great advantage” when you decide to change the gear. In the city this can become a real nightmare, but for those who travel in highway and make a lot of travel out of the city, this may not be a big problem, because they rarely have the need to change the gears, especially if they have the turbo diesel engine. The good thing, I think, is that in years the manual gearboxes have not changed much [or evolved much, not that they need to evolve anyway], which means that it does not really matter if you choose a car of 10 years ago or a new one. The differences will be small and in everyday driving, they will be nearly unnoticeable.

The Automatic Gearbox Cars

The automatic gearboxes have the great advantage of not having the clutch pedal, as well as not changing the gears all the time. In general they are more comfortable than manual gearboxes because all you need to do is to use the right leg and you will have both hands free almost all the time you are driving. The new automatic gearboxes have the advantage of having a lot of gears, beginning from 6 gears like the mainstream automatic gearboxes and raising up to 7 gears for Mercedes 7g Tronic, Wolkswagen [Audi, Skota, Seat] DSG, Porsche PDK and even 8 gears for mainly BMW but also Audi and Wolkswagen, Lexus, etc.

The latest models of Mercedes E Class, Range Rover Evoque, Jeep Renegade have came up with the latest automatic gearbox with 9 gears. A raising numbers of gears means a more flexible guide, a more comfortable one, while taking full advantage of the engine power, and also reducing the consumtion, keeping the revsat the low range and using of the low end torque of the turbo engine.

The Prius has no manual or automatic gearbox in the normal sense. Instead it has a type of CVT or more accurately called a "power split device". The PSD divides power seamlessly between the engine, motor and generator in any ratio. Its' operation is similar in some regards to a differential. The actual PSD is about the size of a mans clenched fist.

A few of the above mentioned car models consume even less that the equivalent models with the manual gearboxes while emitting less CO2, which means lower taxes, more eco friendly cars. Almost all the automatic gearboxes offer the possibilities of the manual gearboxes in which you can choose which gear you want to use. Even though they do not offer the same ‘driver engagement’, you have to admit they change faster that our hand or even our left leg could, especially the double clutches gearbox like DSG of VW, or PDK of Porsche, and even ZF 8 Speed that are used by BMW.

The automatic gearboxes of the last years have a more advanced software which makes the driving more fluid, reduces the consume and makes the changing of the gears almost seamless. Models like these fitted to Rolls Royce Ghost and Wraith use the indication of the navigator to help the gearbox choose the right gear and is a pretty efective way.

Lets go back to the question for which you have to choose one car.

This answer depends on your preferences, but it also depends from the price you will have to pay for the car, how much you use it in the city or on the highway, and if you want to buy a used car or a brand new one. If you are a person who like driving and changing gears all the time is not a problem, than the manual gearbox cars are the answer for you. If you drive a lot in the city, with a lot of traffic, and this nearly all the time becomes a stressful drive, than you are completely justified to choose a car with an automatic gearbox. Except the differences I mentioned above, there are a few more.

Even though the automatic gearbox cars have a high list price than the same model with a manua, about 2000 euros, they have the tendency to hold more their value. So, you will have the possibility to sell it with a high price a few years later. be careful with the type automatic gearbox you choose. The 3 most used types are: CVT [continuously variable transmission], double clutch gearbox and torque converter. CVTs are gearboxes with a single speed which is changed continuously depending on the speed. In general they return a good economy, but they are boring while driving and in many cases they do not offer the option of manual choosing of the gears. They also make a boring noise beacuse of not changing gear. if you are familiar with the manual or automatic it's kind of wired.

Double clutch gearboxes are mostly products of the last years from 2005 until today. They use 2 clutches, on which one works with the even gears, and the other works with the odd gears. They are very fast on changing the gears and generally they are as economic as the manual gearboxes. In case they are damaged or have any other kind of problems, they cost too much to get repaired. Lots of latest sports car use double clutch for the changing speed and the way they behave on a track. In general they weight a bit more than the conventional with "just" one clutch.

Torque Converter is the most used type of the automatic gearboxes. They are not as fast as the double clutch gearboxes, but they weigh less and have the tendence to change gear smoothly almost seamless, making the drive more relaxed and comfortable. Pay attention to the year and the type. The old gearboxes have the tendence to use 10%-20% more fuel than the manual versions of the same car. They do not change gears as fast as you would like because they are not very intelligent as you may expect and they often to let the clutch slip when you push the throttle from the standstill.

In the everyday driving this should not be a problem, but there are cases when this becomes stressful, especially in the situation when you may want to overtake the other car or you may be in the mood to push a little bit. You may also need to check if the gearbox oil is changed regularly according to the car service record. This is a main important factor with the automatic gearboxes which makes it work better and last longer. When using the manual gearboxes you will not face these kind of problems because as we said before, they all are almost the same, with a few exceptions in the gears numbers which may vary from 5 to 6, and in some cases the differences are so small. For example, some of them have a clutch that may be more sensitive, some may have a slicker gear change, but the differences remain small comparing to the automatic gearboxes. In the end, which does the job better remains your own choice.

Which one do you like to use?

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© 2015 Enchel

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