Should I Choose A Manual Or Automatic Car?
Corner Park Garages, Swansea and Cardiff
November 07, 2018 at 3:04 PM
There are already enough variables to consider when you're deciding what your next car should be including whether to buy new or used, which manufacturer and model, and where to buy from without even thinking about manual or automatic. Choosing between a manual and automatic car largely depends on the driving experience you want and the type of license you hold.
If you passed your driving test in a manual car, you can drive both manual or automatic. However, if you took the test in an automatic, you will have to pass another test in a manual car to be able to legally drive manual cars.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANUAL AND AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION?
In the UK, manual cars outsell their automatic counterparts by just over three to one making them the most popular transmission, or gearbox. Manual cars are easily identified by the clutch pedal which sits to the left of the brake pedal.
To change gear, the driver has to press the clutch pedal to the floor and manually select the next gear - using the gear stick - and then release the clutch again. This process temporarily disconnects the engine from the road wheels.
In contrast, a car with an automatic gearbox automatically selects the gear that suits the speed the car is travelling at using a component called a torque converter instead of a clutch pedal.
The simplified automatic gearbox typically only has four modes: Park (P), Reverse (R), Neutral (N) and Drive (D) which are selected using a gear lever, control knob or buttons. Manual transmission cars have five or six gears, plus reverse, for the driver to select from.
There are a number of variations of the automatic transmission, including Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT), single automated clutches and twin/dual clutches. In this post, we're only looking at the traditional automatic gearbox.
WHY SHOULD I BUY A MANUAL CAR?
To get the widest range of choice, especially in the used car market, buying a manual car is your best option. According to an AA Poplus survey from September 2016, 70% of Brits have only ever owned manual cars, making them more common and giving you a greater depth of makes and models to choose from.
In terms of cost, manual cars are typically around £1,000 cheaper than automatic versions of the same car. They're also less expensive to maintain because the mechanics of a manual gearbox are much simpler than an automatic's.
As a result of being less complex and having fewer parts, manual transmission cars are normally lighter as well and come with more gears. Ultimately, this makes them around 5% - 15% more fuel efficient depending on the model and the way the car is driven.
The biggest advantage of manual cars is the driving experience and level of control that you have behind the wheel. You're more involved in the journey as a driver and can anticipate changing conditions and situations and react accordingly.
If you do a lot of towing or off-road driving in your car, a manual transmission is much more useful for these activities because you can select a lower gear and stay in it.
WHY SHOULD I BUY AN AUTOMATIC CAR?
For people that don't really enjoy driving and see it as it means to the end of getting around easier, an automatic car is an attractive proposition becuase they are much easier to drive than manual cars.
You only have two pedals to use and don't need to think about selecting the right gear because the gearbox does it all for you - just stick it in Drive (D) and you can forget about changing the driving mode until you want to park or turn around.
If you do a lot of urban driving in congested or stop-start traffic, an automatic gearbox can be a godsend because you don't have to constantly battle with the car's biting point to inch forwards.
Missing the biting point on a manual car and stalling it is one of the most embarrassing and awkward moments as a driver. Automatic cars practically eliminate the chance of stalling unless there's a mechanical problem.
Automatic transmissions also make steep inclines and hilly areas much easier to tackle, especially if you're not a particularly experienced or confident driver.
Driving an automatic car is normally a smoother experience because the task of changing gears is done based on the car's speed. As a result, there is less chance of accidently grinding the gears, making the transmission itself less likely to fail and a more reliable option.
SHOULD I CHOOSE A MANUAL OR AUTOMATIC CAR?
As you can see there are many plus points for both manual and automatic cars and ultimately, the decision comes down to which transmission has the most benefits for your needs and driving style.
Generally speaking, an automatic car is suited to someone doing a lot of city driving who just wants a smooth and easy driving experience. On the other hand, manual cars are favoured by people that want to be involved in the act of driving and in complete control of the car.
Choice, cost and fuel efficiency are all relevant factors that you should consider, especially if you have a tight budget. Here at Corner Park Garages, we have over 400 cars in stock for you to choose from with both manual and automatic transmissions available.
WHAT ABOUT ELECTRIC AND HYBRID CARS?
100% electric cars don't need a gearbox and their operating system is entirely different from cars with an internal combustion engine. Essentially, electric and hybrid cars operate in a similar way to an automatic transmission with different driving modes and gears that are automatically selected for you.
With the UK's commitment to banning all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, electric and hybrid models will increase in popularity between now and then at the expense of manual cars.