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Buying a Car With A Manual Transmission vs. An Automatic Transmission: Pros and Cons

Purchasing a car is a huge decision, and like with any important decision, you should do your homework and explore all of your possibilities. Aside from the car’s make and brand, body style, engine type, colour, and price range, you also need to choose the type of transmission that you prefer for your car—whether it’s going to be manual or automatic.

We have been in the automotive industry since 1984, ranging from apprentice to master technician, workshop foreman, controller, service advisor and service manager, in numerous premium vehicle businesses. We have built a level of loyalty that in the 21st Century is vital. After all, customer service and care is a point of difference.

We hope we are able to help you out with your needs. Our business is also known as Prepurchase Check.

What Does The Term Transmission in Cars Mean?

You can think of transmission as a control board for transferring the rotational power from the engine—through gears—to the wheels of your car. At the same time, it regulates the speed at an optimum power band to prevent excessive power from damaging the engine.

The transmission allows the vehicle to shift gears, allowing power to be transferred from the engine to the drive axle in the most efficient way possible.

It does this by varying the gear ratio:
– In lower gears, this increases available power while reducing speed
– In contrast, higher gears diminish power while increasing speed.

This enables cars to more efficiently distribute power and speed in any given situation.

What’s The Difference Between an Automatic and a Manual Transmission Car?

The terms ‘manual’ and ‘automatic’ refer to a car’s transmission or gearbox, which is the system that transfers power from the engine to the wheels.

A manual car, as the name implies, needs the driver to shift between the gears manually in accordance with the vehicle’s speed and the amount of power required. In an automatic transmission, the car changes the gears for you.

After deciding on what you wanted for your future car, the big argument used to be whether you wanted a manual or an automatic. People who had to drive short distances or in stop-and-go traffic liked automatic transmissions, whereas those who travelled on open highways or wanted to get the most out of their car’s performance or fuel economy preferred manual transmissions.

Manual transmissions were traditionally the more affordable alternative since they were less expensive to manufacture and did not require the complex engineering that an automatic transmission did. Though automatics have caught up to manuals in terms of gears – and, thanks to new technology, can even outperform manuals in terms of efficiency and economy — they still have a long way to go in terms of efficiency and economy.

Let’s learn more about the difference between manual and automatic transmission cars, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each

Why Choose a Manual Transmission Car?

Manual transmissions have long been preferred by Australian drivers, whether it was to save money or because of the efficiency that manuals provided over older automatics. Enthusiasts who sought more influence over a car’s performance than just steering it down the road preferred manual transmissions.

Economy is also a factor. Because of their relative simplicity over automatics, manual transmissions have been able to have a higher amount of gears without becoming a problem for the rest of the car or for mechanics working on them. The classic selling point for manuals has been that they can achieve better fuel consumption and performance because they have more gears to make the most of the engine’s power.

One drawback of a manual is the skill required in learning to drive in one. Learning to change gears without stalling the car, especially from a stop, can be intimidating at first, but you’ll quickly establish a rhythm for releasing the clutch and accelerating, as well as bringing the car to a stop and changing gears down.

Pros of Manual Transmission Cars

1. Generally cheaper to maintain than the automatic type
People are increasingly preferring automated vehicles, and demand for manual transmission vehicles has decreased in recent years. As a result, a manual car would cost at least a thousand dollars less than its automated counterpart. Also, With all of the added machinery that goes into an automatic transmission, just keeping it functioning properly might wind up costing you a lot of money. Cars with manual transmissions require very little maintenance and are often less expensive to maintain and repair. With manual transmission cars, you save more on repair costs than with automatic transmission cars.

2. Better fuel efficiency than automatic cars
Overall/traditionally, manual transmissions are less complex, weigh less, and have more gears than automatics. The end result is that you’ll end up getting more kilometres out of the petrol you pump in than you would with an automatic. Manual transmissions have been known to save drivers between 5% and 15% on their fuel costs. This has changed with recent modern multi-speed automatics or Dual-clutch transmissions.

3. Better control with manual transmission car
Automatic transmissions are supposed to select the best gear for any given situation, but they often err on the side of caution, shifting to a higher gear and wasting engine power. At the same time, they are designed to adjust to conditions as they arise, preventing drivers from anticipating an impending situation or purposefully selecting a lower gear for an increase in power. Drivers with manual transmissions have more control over their cars.

Cons of Manual Transmission Cars

1. More Difficult to Learn
Because you must change the gears manually, learning manual takes longer

2. Heavy Traffic Driving
Due to repeated stopping/starting and manual gear changes, driving in heavy traffic can be challenging.

3. Fewer Car Models Produced
More and more car models are now being produced with only one version – the automatic version. Finding recent models that are available in both transmission types is becoming rarer and rarer. In the future, there will be fewer manual cars to choose from as more and more people prefer the simplicity and ease of driving the automatic.

Why Choose an Automatic Transmission Car?

Most drivers prefer automatic transmissions because they are more convenient. They’re simple to drive (apart from learning how to operate a car on the road), and they’re a good starting point to start for first-time drivers.

Automatic transmissions allow a smoother ride for inexperienced drivers. They don’t have to worry about changing gears at the right time and doing the perfect hill-start when they’re just beginning, which makes automatics good options for learners.

Pros of Automatic Transmission Cars

1. More Convenient to Use
Switching between gears in an automatic is easier to perform than in a manual car because you don’t need to simultaneously work at the clutch and the gear shift. The automatic transmission does most of the work for you. This may count significantly for someone who learns to drive for the first time. Shifting gears is easier to do and takes place faster with an automatic transmission. Automatic transmissions are much simpler and take drivers significantly less time to learn.

2. Keep Both Hands on The Wheel
New drivers can focus more on traffic rules, road signs, and navigating the streets with an automatic car. Keeping their eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel all the time becomes more achievable with an automatic than with a manual car. This is possible when driving an automatic transmission vehicle but is not possible with a manual transmission

3. Better for Hilly Terrains
If you’re a less experienced driver, you may find that navigating steep inclines in a manual transmission is difficult, especially if you’re attempting to do so from a dead stop. Automatic transmissions take care of this issue, enabling your car to operate efficiently no matter how steep the hill might be.

4. Reduced Risk of Stalling
While stalling is quite a common problem for manual cars, it’s not the same for automatics. It’s still possible for automatic cars to stall, of course, but they generally respond to adjustments promptly.

5. Easier to Use in Heavy Traffic
When you drive a manual transmission car, you spend more time starting, accelerating, decelerating and stopping. That’s fine when you’re driving long stretches with only a few cars sharing the highway with you. It’s a different story, though, when you’re bumper to bumper with other cars. With the automatic gear-shifting technology that automatic cars have, they’re more capable of responding intuitively to the slightest push and adjustment. Traffic lights and heavy traffic, then, become so much easier to deal with.

Cons of Automatic Transmission Cars

1. Cost More
Their off-the-showroom price will be higher. With all that technology and engineering needed to manufacture one, the high price tag should not be surprising. Older models also tend to consume more fuel than their manual equivalent, thus, they’re more expensive to run. This is fast changing, though, with recent breakthroughs that make automatic cars more fuel-efficient than they used to be.

2. More Complex and Expensive Maintenance
The more complicated parts and dynamics that take place in an automatic transmission system require that they be serviced for repairs and maintenance by professional mechanics. More complex parts mean more complex repairs. Necessarily, that entails more cost.

3. Not Qualified to Learn Manual
In some states of Australia, you’re required to take a manual licence test before legally being allowed to drive a manual car.

Basically, automatic transmissions are easier to use and more comfortable for the driver, while manual transmission vehicles are less expensive and more involved.

Of course, there are exceptions to any rule and the only way to be sure which one is right for you is to go for a test drive.

If you are looking for the best pre-purchase car inspector in Melbourne, do not hesitate to contact German Precision or Prepurchase Check today!


Pre Purchase Car Inspector Melbourne

Klaus Sturm

Klaus is a highly experienced automotive professional with 35+ years in the industry, offering Pre-purchase Car Inspection and Vehicle Check services in Melbourne, Victoria. His expertise ranges from technician to service manager, earning him a reputation for exceptional customer service.