Automatic VS Manual Transmissions: Friends Or Enemies?

Starting in the 1950′s, automatic transmissions have been popular in the U.S.. In fact, they account for 84% of cars sold in North America. The same is not true for the rest of the world. Why is the U.S. so fond of the automatic? Some chalk it up to straight roads and a lot of stop and go traffic. So why would you go manual? Here’s a list of each transmission features, both good and bad.

Go Manual

  • Sometimes it pays to have more control over gears. To give you more control in tough climate conditions or when negotiating a steep curve.

  • Cost, cost, cost. The mileage on your automatic transmission car will drop 10% compared to manual transmissions. Automatics are known to consume more fuel. Also, they’ll probably be more expensive in the first place- $700 or so on average.

  • If your automatic breaks down, you’ll need jumper cables to restart the engine. Otherwise have those towing company numbers handy.

Go Automatic

First off, if you’re a mechanic at heart, check out Wikipedia to learn how automatic transmissions work.

  • Generally this kind of transmission is easier to operate. There are only two pedals, so it’s almost like driving a go-cart. In a traffic jam, this is a big plus.

  • You’ll have your left foot free and both hands on the wheel.

  • With new options like Manumatic transmissions, automatics may finally be gaining on manuals, combining ease of use with power.

Choosing a transmission is not as simple as “which transmission is better?”. You should take into account the make of the car and your situation. For example, if you’re buying an Audi mainly for performance reasons, you’ll probably want to stick to a manual and use that power. But if you’re a city commuter who doesn’t want to shift those gears on the drive home, go with an automatic. If you’ll be going to the mountains a lot, dealing with mud and rain, then a manual transmission is likely to hold up wonderfully. You get the idea…

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