The Pros and Cons of Manual vs Automatic Cars

When asking car owners what their preference in transmission would be you’ll always get mixed, yet passionate, reviews. Preference varies widely from person to person which could make it hard to decide if your first car, or your next upgrade, should have a manual or automatic transmission. With this article, we aim to provide some pros and cons on both ends of the spectrum without any biased opinions.

What is the difference between manual and automatic transmission?

Let’s start at the beginning. What is the main difference between a manual and automatic transmission? Well for starters, a manual car has three pedestals (brake, clutch & accelerator) whereas an automatic car only has two (brake & accelerator). Yet even though an automatic car does not possess a clutch, for a car to operate efficiently, you need to change gears. An automatic car has a more intricate gearbox with more moving parts allowing it to change gears automatically as you increase and decrease speed.

By that explanation alone one would be quick to think that it means automatic cars are better than manual cars, right? This is a big advantage but both manual and automatic cars have their advantages with some shortcomings.

Advantages of a Manual Car

You Are in Control

As automatic cars are designed to change gears automatically, you aren't in full control. Errors do occur and automatic cars may shift at too high of a gear, wasting engine power and fuel. Automatic cars can't automatically anticipate an oncoming condition. You'll sometimes find yourself in a situation where you need to shift to a lower gear for a boost of power when, for example, you need to overtake a vehicle on the road. Automatic cars are built to respond to the current conditions and change gears accordingly. With a manual car, you'll have greater control over your vehicle.

Cost-Effective

Right from the get-go, purchasing a new or used manual car is less expensive than its automatic counterpart. As the inner workings of a manual vehicle are less complex than that of an automatic car, it requires fewer parts and expertise to manufacture. Not only that, but it is also cheaper, easier and quicker to service and maintain when compared to an automatic vehicle.

Fuel-Efficient

The cost-effectiveness of a manual car extends beyond the initial purchase and upkeep. The engines of manual cars are less complex and weigh less than that of an automatic vehicle. Manual cars also have more gears than automatic cars. Automatic cars could use as much as 5% to 15% more petrol than a manual car. Therefore you’ll end up getting more kilometres out of a tank of petrol than you would with an automatic car.

Disadvantages of Manual Cars

More Difficult to Learn

The manual car has a higher learning curve when it comes to driving and knowing when and how to manually shift gears whilst simultaneously paying attention to your pedals. Especially when working with your clutch to ensure that your vehicle doesn’t stall. For this reason, going for your driver’s license with a manual car could also be more stressful and harder to pass than with an automatic vehicle.

To an Extent, Tiresome to Drive

Driving in heavy traffic can be a tiresome act as you’ll constantly have to switch gears when pulling away, speeding up and coming to a stop again. Driving on the open road is great as you’ll make minimal use of your clutch, but driving around town and through your neighbourhood also requires you to constantly change gears.

Harder to Find in High-End Cars

Though entry-level and midrange cars are easily acquired with a manual transmission, higher-end vehicles tend to only be available with automatic transmission. Due to the emphasis on luxury, higher-end vehicles are often only manufactured with an automatic transmission. Therefore, chances are that if you are used to or prefer a manual vehicle over an automatic vehicle, you might have to settle for the latter.

Advantages of an Automatic Car

Easier to Use

To start off with the most obvious advantage of an automatic vehicle, they are far easier to drive when compared to a manual vehicle. This also means it’s easier to learn how to drive an automatic car. There is no need to worry about shifting gears and you have one less pedal to worry about.

Traffic is a Breeze

When it comes to heavy traffic, an automatic car will always be the preferred option. With constant accelerating, decelerating, stopping and repeating as cars drive bumper to bumper you can rest assured knowing your car will automatically take care of the frustration of constantly having to change gears. This makes driving in heavy traffic also a lot safer as you can keep both hands on your wheel. You will also be more aware of what is happening on the road as you don’t have to constantly concentrate on shifting gears. Therefore you are more attentive to your surroundings which allows you to anticipate disaster and have a better window of opportunity to react.

Reduced Risk of Stalling

Gone are the days that you accidentally pull away from a stop street or traffic light in third gear instead of first. Automatic cars will ensure that you are always in the correct gear when you come to a complete stop. You also won’t have to worry about the embarrassment of dropping your clutch too early when pulling away and stalling your vehicle. This is also true for hilly areas. With a manual vehicle, you are taught to make use of your hand brake, clutch and accelerator with perfect timing to be able to pull away on a hill. This takes a lot of practice, has a steep learning curve and will often result in you stalling your vehicle.

Disadvantages of an Automatic Car

Costly Maintenance

As previously mentioned, not only do they have a higher price tag, but automatic cars are more expensive to maintain. Due to the complexity of their mechanisms and the variety of working parts, they often take longer to be repaired or serviced. Depending on the category and service intervals, you also have transmission oil that needs to be changed more frequently. Due to the complexity of their engines and moving parts automatic vehicles require greater expertise to fix or service.

Limited Driver’s License

Although obtaining your driver’s license is easier with an automatic car than with a manual car, you will be at a disadvantage. When obtaining your driver’s license with an automatic car, you are restricted by law to only be allowed to drive automatic cars. This is not the case when obtaining your driver’s license with a manual car as you are still allowed to drive an automatic car.

Roadside Assistance

Due to the complexity of automatic vehicles, not all roadside mechanics are adept at repairing automatic transmissions. You’ll need to find an expert to come out and assist you which could be difficult if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere. You also cannot push-start or push an automatic car off to the side of the road. This also means that towing your car will have to be done by professionals as towing your car by the traditional means of pulling it along with the help of a friend and sturdy rope or everyday tow truck will damage your car’s mechanisms.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it all comes down to preference. Both manual and automatic transmissions have their pros and cons and it is up to you to decide which advantages are more appealing and which disadvantages you’re willing to put up with. Each car excels in different areas but will get you to where you need to be.

At Fury Ford Midrand we have a variety of new and used manual and automatic cars and if you are not yet convinced of your preference, our experienced staff will come to your aid and ensure that U WILL B Satisfied.

For more information on the services that we have to offer or to book a test drive, you can contact us on +27(0) 10 440 4958 or visit our website.