Automatic transmissions versus manual transmissions:

Which type is right for you?

The development of automatic transmissions has come so far it’s hard to make a case for stick shifts anymore. Lock-up torque converters, five- (and now seven-speeds) and manual shift control have virtually eliminated any arguments against vehicles with automatic transmissions. However, a few vehicles still drive better with manual transmissions, such as small-engine compacts, serious off-road vehicles and trucks that tow more than 15,000 pounds.

At one time manuals had a fuel economy advantage over automatics, but lock-up torque converters and overdrive gear ratios have all but wiped that out. Manual-equipped vehicles typically need a clutch inspection every 20,000 miles, but their transmissions cost less to repair than today’s automatics. The performance gap between manuals and automatics has all but disappeared.
Basically, the choice comes down to personal preference.

Are automatic transmissions more suited for your use?
Selecting the correct type of car transmission to fit your vehicle and driving style is more important than you might think.
Several factors must be considered, such as:

  • How will you use the vehicle?
  • Where will you be driving?
  • What do you expect out of your vehicle?

Honestly answering these questions will determine which car transmission is right for you, automatic or stick. Choosing the wrong car transmission can cause reliability problems or, worse, a disappointing driving experience.

Choose the right auto transmission: do it right!

Many vehicles are only available with an auto transmission. If you determine that you absolutely need a manual, then select the appropriate make, type and model of vehicle.

  • If you use your vehicle for daily transportation and spend a lot of time in heavy traffic, an auto transmission is the only way to go.
  • Serious off-roaders prefer manual transmissions because they provide engine braking on downhill grades. Some luxury SUVs have automatic transmissions that also provide an engine braking feature.
  • Sports cars and sports sedans are more fun to drive with today’s smooth-shifting manual transmissions. However, the new Tiptronic-styled manually controlled automatics provide the control of a manual, and the convenience of an automatic, with the flip of a lever. Some even have Formula 1-style shift paddles located on the steering wheel.
  • If you tow more than 15,000 pounds, a manual transmission is usually much more reliable.
  • Smaller four-cylinder engines found in compact cars and trucks perform better with manual transmissions. However, if you do much driving in traffic, give up the slight performance gain and go for the auto transmission.

Go to Advance Auto Parts for high quality auto parts for all your vehicle maintenance tasks.