Manual Vs. Automatic Transmissions: Which Is the Better Choice for You


Buying a vehicle means making a variety of choices. From choosing a color that might bring a higher resale or trade-in value in the future to finding a car that reflects your taste and driving style, there is much to decide. As you browse different lots locally and online, you will probably encounter vehicles with automatic transmissions and those with a manual shift. While each has its pros and cons, considering your driving style and a few other factors can help you make the best choice possible.

Driving Experience

Having experience with a manual transmission can give you an edge when it comes to buying a car; however, not all models have the same type of shifting pattern, so it is important to review the gearbox pattern for each vehicle that interests you. A test drive can help you get comfortable with an unfamiliar shifting sequence. If you learned to drive on an automatic transmission but found a manual model in your price range, ask a friend or family member experienced with manual shifting to teach you.

Driving Patterns

Reviewing your driving habits and patterns can help you decide which engine style is the best for you. For example, if you do a lot of city driving, an automatic vehicle is typically easier to handle in heavy traffic and other situations that involve constant braking and accelerating. If your commute includes a daily drive on the highway, a manual transmission typically provides superior fuel consumption for distance driving. You can ask your car dealer for information regarding miles per gallon and how each model you are considering compares to the other.

Driving Style

Your driving style can help you decide between a manual and automatic vehicle, especially if you are experienced with both. Operating a manual transmission typically requires more interaction with the car and a greater focus on your speed, as shifting a manual transmission at the wrong time can damage the gears and the flywheel. Automatic vehicles shift on their own, which allows for a more relaxing drive, especially in situations where traffic is heavy. If you enjoy the challenge of proper shifting, then a manual model may be the best choice.

Budget Limitations

Price can be a major factor when you are buying a vehicle, especially if you need financing and want to simplify your car loan process by purchasing a pre-owned vehicle. Some models come in both standard and automatic transmissions, but you will probably find that the manual model is less expensive because the engine mechanics are simpler and are therefore less costly to build. If you are concerned about the cost of fuel and upkeep, a manual transmission can offer you savings in both these areas.

However, if you do choose a standard shift vehicle, it is wise to remember that the cost of clutch repairs for a manual transmission can cost over $1,000 in parts and labor. Remember to factor in these numbers when you are making your comparisons.

Choosing the right vehicle for your budget, driving style, and transportation needs can be a challenge, especially when deciding between a manual and automatic transmission. Taking time to compare the two and how they might affect these factors might help you make the most informed choice possible.