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Published on the 27th November 2018

Manual vs Automatic Car: Pros and Cons

Reading Time: 5 min read

Manual vs Automatic Car: Pros and Cons

You might ask yourself: manual vs automatic car, which is better? It is a debate as old as time, and one which can cause countless arguments between petrolheads and car owners all over the world. Some will argue one is more convenient, the other cheaper.

People will argue that one is better for longer trips, whilst the other has lower running costs. Perhaps some consider one safer, and the other more practical. Whatever your type, make and style of car, the overriding discussion can always be found in Petrol versus manual.

Both have huge pros and cons, so read on for the ultimate discussion, and try to lessen some of the confusion!

Just keep in mind you always need car insurance in both cases.

What’s the difference between a manual vs automatic car?

In order for your car to perform its most basic function – driving – there is one thing it will require, whether automatic or manual: a working transmission, or gearbox.

This allows the car to change gears, and so transfers power from the engine to the drive axle in the most efficient way.

How does it do this?

By varying the gear ratio – lower gears have more power and less speed, and higher gears have less power but greater speed.

The vehicle is then able to distribute power and speed in the way that is most efficient for the given situation. There are two types of transmission: automatic and manual.

The main and most important difference between manual and automatic cars lies in the gears and the clutch.

Automatic cars do not have a clutch pedal, as all of the work here is done by the car.

Put simply, manual cars put the business of changing gears back into the drivers’ hands, whilst automatic will take care of this for you.

But which is better?

There are pros and cons to both systems, and your preference may vary depending on your needs.

automatic car

Automatic Vehicles

The Pros

The most obvious benefit of choosing an automatic is that it means less work for the driver: a definite plus!

There are also a number of other features which may make this your preferred choice:

1. Simpler to drive

There is no denying that for many people, automatics are much easier and simpler to drive than more traditional manual cars.

The driver only needs to worry about whether they are going forward, backwards or parking, and the car does the rest of the work.

This reduces the worry of stalling, constantly changing gears when stopping and starting in traffic, hill starts and a number of other concerns that can come with being in charge of the gears.

Many drivers also find this a more relaxing option, as you can simply sit back and enjoy the ride, and the changes in gears are often much smoother and more comfortable.

2. Easier to learn

The process of learning to drive can also be far easier in an automatic – you only have to worry about the position on the road and maintaining speed.

This can be ideal for more nervous drivers who feel overwhelmed by the experience.

3. Easier on the gears

Because the car is in charge of changing gears, there can be less wear and tear on the gearbox with an automatic -there is less risk of grinding or crunching the gears, and this can help them to last longer. See also our guide on how to take care for a new car.

The Cons

1. More expensive

Depending on where in the world you are, an automatic may be a more costly option, particularly with newer models where more technology is involved.

In addition, repairs and parts can work out more expensive than a manual choice.

2. Less control

Many drivers feel uneasy about having less control over the gears, and the car in general.

Leaving it all up to the vehicle can feel unnatural and unnerving, and many people prefer the security that comes with being in control of gears, power and speed.

manual car

Manual Vehicles

The Pros

1. More power and control

The key advantage of a manual is that the driver has more control over the gears, power and speed – you can swoosh from second straight up to fourth, gain extra power for a steep hill, or reduce down gears quickly if needed; you are far more in control.

2. More affordable

Are manual cars cheaper than automatic ones?

Yes, in many areas, manual cars are more common, and, therefore, far more affordable.

This also means that parts and repairs are likely to be cheaper and more accessible.

3. One test

If you learn to drive in a manual, you can also drive an automatic – a definite bonus as it gives you more choice.

The Cons

1. More work to drive

With a manual, the car will not do the hard work for you – it is up to you to change gears as and when needed.

Some drivers also find the hand-eye coordination involved tricky, making them harder to drive.

It is important to remember that each driver, and each vehicle, is unique.

Whichever side of the manual vs automatic car debate you fall on, your choice will depend on your lifestyle, environment, and personal preference.

Whatever your final decision, it is important to test drive each potential, until you find one that feels perfect for you: no matter what is in the gearbox!