Automatic vs. Manual Transmission

The debate between automatic and manual transmissions (a.k.a. stick shift) has lasted decades and will probably always be a topic of conversation among auto enthusiasts. When you set out to buy a new car, one of the first things you should consider is what kind of transmission you want. To help you decide, we’ve made a list of some pros and cons associated with both automatic and manual transmissions.

Automatic Transmissions


Easier to Drive

If you’re a new driver, it’s easier to learn to drive an automatic car than a manual. Since there’s no clutch to control, you don’t have to worry about manually switching gears while in motion. This leads some people to believe automatics are safer to drive, because the driver has fewer things to divide their attention over.

More Power and Better Acceleration

With more surface contact between each gear, automatic transmissions are able to spread out their torque load and often offer more power than a manual transmission. Since they’re programmed to quickly change gears automatically, they also offer better acceleration speeds. These outcomes can vary, of course, depending on the car you’re looking at and the age of the transmission.

Plenty of Options

While manual transmissions are still the default in some places (for example, Europe), in North America, most new (and nowadays used) vehicles have automatic transmissions. If you want to explore many potential vehicles, you’ll have endless options with automatic transmissions.


More Maintenance

Maintaining an automatic car is a lot more of an investment (of both time and money) than a manual car. Since an automatic transmission has more moving parts, owners have to put in more effort to keeping their vehicle in good shape.

Less Fuel-Efficient

Automatic cars consume more fuel than manuals and are less fuel-efficient because of a lack of control over the torque converter. This means more frequent trips to the gas station.

Less Control
Automatic drivers can’t control their vehicles to the same level that stick shift drivers can. An experienced stick shift driver can select gears based on their surroundings to reduce the wear on their brakes and other parts of the car.

Manual Transmissions


Less Expensive

The base price of manual transmissions used to be significantly cheaper than automatics. Although this price gap has narrowed over the years, manuals are often still the cheaper option.

Better Driving Experience

If you ask a stick shift fan why they like it so much, they’re bound to mention the enhanced driving experience. They find driving stick is much more interactive than automatic.


Requires More Focus

You should be fully focused regardless of what car you’re driving, but a manual transmission requires a driver to pay attention to more factors than an automatic. Forgetting to switch gears at the right time can greatly affect the driving experience and can put the safety of yourself and others on the road at risk. You also have to use both legs. Since driving a manual is also much harder to learn, you’ll have to dedicate a lot of time and energy to becoming fully comfortable handling a stick shift.

Lack of Choice

Nowadays, manual transmissions can be quite difficult to find. Since automatics have long been the more popular option in North America, most cars off the production line are automatic only. They aren’t completely extinct, however, and some new cars are still being offered with manual transmissions. As long as there’s a pocket of interest, we may see manual transmissions continue to stick around for many years to come.

To better understand how transmissions work, check out this article. Once you know what kind of transmission you want, you can browse through local car listings to find a vehicle suited to your needs. For more automotive tips and news, visit our blog.