Pros and Cons of Automatic vs Manual Transmissions


The ongoing debate over which is better between automatic or manual transmissions largely has to do with personal preference. There are pros and cons to both, so it all comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If you’re on the market for a new car and aren’t sure which you should look for, we’re here to go over some of the key differences between the two types of transmissions so that you can make a more informed decision on which car is your best choice.

Related: How to Avoid Needing a Full Transmission Replacement
Related: Three Tell-Tale Signs Your Transmission is Failing
Related: Common Transmission Problems That Mean Trouble


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Manual Transmissions Offer Greater Driver Control

Many lovers of manual transmissions are adamant about the benefits of driving them over automatic transmission cars. While there are distinct advantages to choosing a manual transmission car, there are also some potential downsides to consider before buying one. Balance the pros and cons with your personal needs before deciding your next car should be a manual transmission.

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There’s a Learning Curve for Driving Manual Transmissions

Driving a manual transmission car is more complex than an automatic transmission car. While this is what some drivers love about them, it’s fair to say that there’s a learning curve in driving manual transmissions. It can take people longer to catch on and get a feel for how the clutch pedal should feel when shifting gears. This comes alongside the risk of killing the engine when you get it wrong, so you want to be sure you’re proficient before hitting the road.

You Control Gear Shifts by Engaging and Disengaging a Clutch Pedal

It’s tricky to learn how to drive a manual transmission, or stick shift because you have to get a feel for engaging and disengaging the clutch pedal at appropriate times. This is because you’re in control of each time your car shifts gears. For many people, this is a major positive because it gives complete control over how much power you have while driving. 

They Can Be More Fun to Drive, Especially with Sport Vehicles

Along the same lines as having control over gear shifts, many drivers think manual transmission cars are more fun to drive. This holds up, since many modern manual transmission cars tend to be sportier. While manual transmissions have become gradually less common, they continue to be most available in cars that sell because they’re fun to drive, not just because they’re functional.

Many Manual Transmissions Tend to Be Built Better and More Durable

If you own a manual transmission, you may notice that transmission repairs tend to be less frequent and more affordable. This is because there tend to be fewer moving parts in a manual transmission and they tend to be more durable than their counterparts. 

Manual Transmission Cars Can Be a Budget-Friendly Option

Not only are manual transmissions often more affordable to buy initially, they can also be cheaper when transmission repairs come up. If one of your top priorities is getting something budget, friendly, you may find more manual transmission options on the market.

Automatic Transmissions Offer Simplicity

For many people, there’s a lot of appeal to getting an automatic transmission car. As with manual transmissions, your decision should ultimately come down to your personal preferences and priorities. The right car for you may not be the right car for the guy sitting next to you.

Your Car Senses When a Gear Change Needs to Happen for You

What most people love about automatic transmissions is the ease of driving because gear changes are done for you. Automatic transmission cars are equipped to sense when a gear change is necessary and will shift for you, meaning all you have to pay attention to are the gas and brake pedals.

They’re Much More Commonly Made than Manual Transmissions

In recent years, automatic transmissions have become increasingly common as their quality and popularity has improved. Manual transmissions used to be the norm and for good reason, but now the tides are turning. That means you’ll have a greater variety of options if you’re looking for an automatic transmission. 

You’re Likely to Get Better Fuel Economy with an Automatic Transmission

Because your car senses when a gear change should happen, you’re less likely to encounter higher RPMs, which hurt your fuel economy. This doesn’t eliminate the other factors of city versus highway driving, but it can make somewhat of a difference if it’s one of your priorities.

Automatic Transmissions Can Be More Expensive to Repair

There are more moving parts in an automatic transmission, including sensors to detect the car’s speed and which gear is best at any given time. This means when you run into transmission trouble, paying for transmission repairs can cost you more out of pocket than if you had a manual transmission.

Some Modern Automatic Transmissions are More Hybrid

Modern automatic transmissions can offer more hybrid options. Single- and dual-clutch transmissions are automatic transmissions but with the option to control your gear shifts when you want that capability. This means you can have the ease of an automatic transmission and the control of a manual transmission depending on your mood and needs.

AAMCO’s Expert Mechanics are Here for Your Transmission Repair Needs

No matter what type of transmission you have or what transmission repair you need, our expert mechanics are here to help. We can accurately diagnose and handle any necessary transmission repair or carry out regular car maintenance to help keep your car in its best shape. Give us a call with questions or schedule an appointment online today.

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