Manual vs. Automatic transmission: Which vehicle should you choose?

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Published: 30th September 2008
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While manual cars are not as popular as they used to be (owing to the rising demand for automatic cars especially in the Americas and Europe), they still account for a substantial percentage of annual car sales (both used and new). Perhaps the reason for this is the advantages of a manual transmission over an automatic, which are as follows:

Manual Transmission

Lower base price, repair, and maintenance costs
Manual vehicles generally have a lower base price than automatics. On the average, a manual costs $1000 dollars lesser than an automatic. When it comes to repair and maintenance costs, manual transmission appears to be more superior. The clutch, which is one of the most expensive and labor intensive components of a car when it gets damaged, is more easily maintained in manual than in automatic transmission. And any mechanic can tell you that working on a manual transmission is much easier than working with automatic gear boxes. So the repair costs for automatics are significantly higher. In the long run, manuals require less service, thus making maintenance cheaper.

Gives higher gas mileage
Even if a manual car is relatively more difficult to drive, it doesn't eat up too much fuel, consuming 5%-15% lesser fuel depending on road conditions and driving habits. Automatics, even though easier to use, ultimately burn a lot more gas than their manual counterparts.

Gives better control
The basic premise is that manual transmission allows for better control of the car. With a manual, you can keep the power of the engine right where you want it, based on the conditions of the road. And no matter how sophisticated the electronics, automatic transmission will never be smarter than the human brain that's actually driving the car. Simply put, manual transmission gives you full control with your gears but with an automatic your choices are limited between two pedals. Manual transmission gives you more freedom when it comes to maneuvering on steep hills or curves. It also allows you to combat tough weather conditions more comfortably.

With all these advantages of a manual transmission notwithstanding, here are the reasons why automatics have been very popular nowadays:

Automatic Transmission

Ease of use
Generally, automatic transmissions are easier to operate. There are only two pedals, so it's almost like driving a go-kart. In a traffic jam, this is a big plus. Manuals are generally more tiring to drive in traffic, because of the need to use the clutch pedal.

Relatively safer
When driving an automatic, a driver will have his/her left foot free and both hands on the wheel. A manual requires a little too much concentration from the driver: the continuous pumping of the clutch pedal and the constant shifting of gears is enough to distract a novice driver.

The best of both worlds
With new options like manumatic transmissions, automatics may finally be gaining on manuals, combining ease of use with power. At the onset of the 21st century, this new transmission mode was introduced by automobile manufacturers. Manumatic transmission is basically an automatic transmission that possesses certain manual-transmission features. A good example is the luxury cars of Chrysler. It's definitely automatic, only that you have more control in shifting your gears.

Conclusion:
In the end, your decision shouldn't be based only on the advantages and disadvantages. It ultimately boils down on your needs. For example, if you want maximum performance and superior control, you may want to consider getting a manual transmission. If you want ease of driving, especially in heavy traffic, automatic transmission is your best choice.


About the author:
IBC Japan specializes in exporting used cars from Japan with regional distribution centers worldwide.


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