When it comes to buying a car, most new owners are concerned with the type of transmission and which one is better: manual or automatic? Because both types have pros and cons, this is not a question to which we can give simple and direct answer. Many aspects need to be taken into consideration before deciding to either follow the public opinion on favourable automatic cars or choose a slightly more complex and reliable car with manual transmission system. We know that this may seem as an overrated advice from a car freak, but it is quite true. Or as some car owners like to say: ‘You are what you drive.
Before we start describing the advantages and disadvantages of both types of transmission, we will provide an overview of the structure of a transmission system in the car and how it actually works. A transmission system controls the amount of power a car engine uses, thus increasing and decreasing the speed while driving. The transmission, also referred to as gearbox, has several gears (usually 4 to 6, depending on the car model). The gearbox has only one main function – it transfers power and torque from a rotating sub-part to the car’s wheels. Each gear provides different level of power and as we all know gear one is the weakest and it is used only to start driving. Because we are talking about two types of transmission (automatic and manual) it is worth mentioning that there are detailed differences in their structures.
Manual vs. Automatic
Generally speaking, manual transmission cars are a cheaper option along with the transmission servicing costs. The difference in costs between manual and automatic gearbox was much higher a decade ago. And even with recent efforts to reduce these costs, manual transmission cars are still cheaper and easier to maintain. Automatic gearboxes are more complex in structure and therefore need to be serviced more often in order to preserve them and prevent the battery from running out. Moreover, there are still many car mechanics that refuse to work on automatic cars because they don’t have the proper experience and expertise.
Any experienced driver or car admirer in general will tell you that manual transmission is better and in some situations, even easier to drive. What manual transmission provides for the driver is full control over the car in terms of how much power is used and optimal fuel economy. On the other hand, automatic gearboxes are way better for traffic jams where instead of shifting from 1st to 2nd gear all the time, all you need to do is press the gas pedal. Automatic transmission beats manual even on long roads because it allows easier cruise drive and greater driving freedom. Researchers have gone even deeper in their evaluation of automatic and manual transmission, claiming that automatic driving can be less stressful than manual (try saying that to a person that has been driving a manual car for his entire life).
Most drivers are aware of the fact that automatic cars have high power engines and thus consume more fuel in urban and open road areas. According to some experts, automatic transmission cars use 10% more fuel than manual-based cars. But, if we take a look at continuous advancements in the car manufacturing industry, it will be no surprise if this difference in fuel economy gets lower or even maybe evens out one day. Even today there are some car models with automatic transmission that have bellow average fuel economy, which consequently boosts their market price.
In conclusion, a buyer’s dilemma between a manual and an automatic transmission is based on personal taste and lifestyle. We mentioned that people who like cars in general and collect cars can never be convinced that automatic cars are better than the manual-based ones. However, busy people who live in large cities will say that this is a total nonsense and that automatic cars are far more practical.