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Why Is Everyone (Seemingly) Choosing Automatic Over Manual Transmission Today?

Updated on November 15, 2012

Today’s automotive market is swarming with automatic transmission cars. But what is actually wrong with manual transmission?

Nowadays, it feels very easy to find a car with automatic transmission as there are plenty of them at your disposal. In fact, the number of cars with automatic transmission seen on the road is growing every single day, leaving cars with manual transmission far behind. Nevertheless, this doesn’t necessarily mean that automatic is better than its manual counterpart. As a matter of fact, it often comes down to personal preference as well as the situation in which a car is being driven.

Automatic transmission
Automatic transmission | Source

Automatic Transmission

One of the main reasons why a lot of people choose automatic transmission is perhaps because it is easy to use. For those who have just started learning how to drive a car, this kind of transmission plays a perfect role. With an automatic transmission, all the driver has to care about is simply when to hit the gas and brake pedals. Unlike a manual transmission, an automatic transmission doesn’t require the driver to interfere in terms of gear switching hence the term ‘automatic’.

Using an automatic transmission, a driver won’t have to be alert on when to switch gears. Therefore, he won’t have to worry about clutching, which is good news for out left foot. This makes automatic transmission cars particularly enjoyable to drive in the middle of traffic jams. Besides enjoyable, this also seems to be the perfect choice if you have quite a few other things to do while you’re driving, such as taking care of your baby. However, though, I won’t recommend you to do so. Remember, you’re driving and, your driving attitude may or may not cause harm to other drivers or pedestrians.

Another advantage of driving an automatic car is that it is unlikely to go backwards, making it suitable for hill driving. As with a manual car, the driver will have to know exactly when he should hold his left foot on the clutch and when he should either hit the gas or the brake pedal. Out of the question, this is a very inconvenient and tiresome experience.

However, since the car itself decides when it should switch gears, what usually happens is that gears tend to be switched at a higher engine rev. This is why an automatic transmission often has fewer gears compared to a manual transmission. Unfortunately, as a result, it consumes your car fuel faster than a manual does. So, if you’re after fuel efficiency, automatic transmission is just not for you.

Also, while driving an automatic, there are times when the car switches its gears just right when you feel that you are actually cruising at a speed comfortable for you. Even worse, an automatic car may often shift up and down between available gears. This is often known as ‘hunting’. Well, it’s right that using the overdrive option may help. However, this should be pointed out so that fellow readers of this hub know for sure that automatic doesn’t always equal convenience.

In addition to that, an automatic transmission is often priced higher compared to a manual one. Well, personally, I can’t really agree on this. Why should we pay more when all we get is a transmission with fewer gears and we have less control over it?

5-speed manual transmission
5-speed manual transmission | Source

Manual Transmission

If you are new to the driving world, you may get scared at first if you are to drive a manual transmission car. When you are new, you are just not accustomed to it yet. When you are not accustomed to it, you are less likely to have the ability to focus on when you should hit the clutch pedal or release it, when or how fast you should step on the gas pedal and when you should hit the brake pedal. Do it the wrong way and you’ll end up with a stalled engine. When this happens, obviously, you’ll have to restart your engine and do everything all over again, from the first gear. Undoubtedly, you won’t want this to happen while you’re in the middle of the road.

That is a common mistake that happens to new drivers a lot, often because they get freaked out by the road condition ahead of them. For example, while a new driver is driving calmly on the road and a car suddenly approaches out of the opposite direction, that driver has the tendency to step on the brake pedal all of a sudden, causing the engine to stall.

Driving a manual car can be troublesome if there are traffic jams. You will most likely get your left foot exhausted when you reach your destination. At stop-and-go traffic, your left foot has the most important role in controlling the car, whether letting it slip forward a little or holding it steadily in its current position.

With a new or an unskilled driver, passengers, if any, inside the car may not feel convenient at all. Clutching at the wrong time can result in quite a rough ride throughout the trip. However, there are indeed good things that the manual transmission can possibly offer.

First and foremost, you’ll have total control of your car transmission. You can tell the car exactly when you want to switch gears, unlike with an automatic. That said, if you want to stay in the second gear, for example, you won’t have to worry about your car switching gears. This way, you can enjoy cruising at your comfortable speed.

Since you have total control, you can choose whether you want to switch gears at a higher or lower engine rev. In other words, you have better control over your fuel mileage. Well, at such a tough economy condition, this becomes a pretty important option to take into consideration.

A manual transmission is also a better choice when going downhill. Unlike with automatic, you don’t have to hit the brake as many times in a manual. Instead, you can simply switch to a lower gear and your car will go slow, safe and sound.

Just in case you happen to have a depleted battery, starting up your car will be far easier if it is a manual instead of an automatic. All you have to do is push your car forward till it reaches a certain speed and then you can try starting the engine. This works most of the time and the good news is, your battery gets recharged as well. Yet, had it been an automatic, you would have had to worry about an additional vehicle in addition to the transmission jumper cable. Well, more often than not, you’ll find yourself trying to call for help from someone else (read the insurance company).

It is also easier to maneuver while you are in an automatic. When you have to take corners, for example, you can slow down and switch to lower gears. Then, coming out of the corners, you can hit your gas pedal harder to accelerate and shift up to a higher gear.

Besides maneuverability, a manual transmission also grades better in terms of acceleration. Under a normal condition, a manual car is always at least a few seconds faster than its automatic variant.

What about you? Will you go for the manual or automatic transmission?

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So, as you can see, automatic is not without problems. However, if you prefer driving convenience – where you don’t have to worry about shifting and all that – to more control over your car – added with the complexity of clutching – then it is logical to choose an automatic over a manual transmission. However, if you think you are more like a real driver, you will be pleased to go for a manual instead.


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