Manual vs. automatic. Which transmission type is better? Is it even a question of “better?” We’re asked that quite a bit here at Ottobot Motors, so we thought we’d have our technical experts unpack all of the details for you. We’re committed to creating consumer knowledge and empowerment down here at our dealership because we want to see the used-car buying public make the best possible purchases. Have a look at our used car buying checklist for the steps to take when purchasing your next vehicle, and continue to browse all of our technical know-how pages so you can shop like a pro!
There are actually many differences between these two transmission types, but the key differentiator between them is their primary shift mechanism. We’ve got plenty of used cars and SUVs here with either type of transmission, but let’s start at the beginning:
But outside of this key difference, what else does having a manual transmission or automatic transmission mean for you? Let’s take a quick peek at some manual vs. automatic transmission benefits and drawbacks side by side:
So which one is better? By now you probably have guessed from our manual vs. automatic transmission comparison that we’re not partial to either as both transmission types have an equal number of pros and cons — even side by side from a manual vs. automatic shootout perspective. You can take either transmission type and make a case for putting either in almost any vehicle. Take stick shift cars, for example. Even the cheapest, ugliest, and most undesirable brands will have a “fun-factor” that might make you take a second look. Your partner may declare that they’d never slide into the passenger seat of such a car, though you might secretly be thinking, “yeah, but it’s a stick shift.”
Conversely, an automatic transmission has its place in luxury cars as well as larger family SUVs. Those types of vehicles require ease of operation, which makes an automatic transmission more favorable, though the argument can easily be flipped. What if you needed more pulling power or control off-road? A manual transmission in an SUV can give you a considerable advantage in terms of torque and crawl capability over an automatic. It should be noted that if you’re taking a manual transmission SUV up the infamous Hell’s Gate climb on the Hell’s Revenge trail in Moab, you will have much greater torque and ease of forward progress. Sure, you might be staring into the sky for all of it, but if you trust your wheel placement and your spotter, you will have an easier time than with an automatic transmission that might want to shift on its own, causing you to lose traction. So when it comes to stick shift vs. automatic, ask which one is right for you.
In this brief section, we’ll take a quick look at the mechanical components of each transmission type to enhance your understanding of what actually goes into making your vehicle move. We’ll look at each transmission system and its key components:
So, at your next cocktail party, do you think you can elaborate on the difference between automatic and manual car transmissions? We certainly hope so!
Manual transmissions typically use far fewer parts and have more robust construction than automatic transmissions, and can often last longer as a result. More importantly, a single damaged gear in a manual transmission won’t cause a complete breakdown, while almost any damage in an automatic can render the transmission inoperable. Plus, servicing a manual transmission will often cost less than an automatic transmission service near Fort Worth.
The main disadvantages of manual transmissions are that it takes more effort to learn and drive a manual car and that manual-transmission-equipped used cars are often in higher demand. However, if you have ever considered used cars with a manual transmission, you likely don’t care about these disadvantages, as the spirit of three-pedal driving is something that strikes a chord with most car enthusiasts’ souls. The week or two of stalling as you learn the ropes in Irving, TX, is well worth the years of fun on roads near Dallas.
If you care about true driving engagement, then manual transmissions are much, much better than automatic transmissions. Many modern automatic transmissions shift much faster than a human operating a manual transmission could possibly manage. However, point-and-shoot performance just can’t compare to the bliss of rowing the gears up to speed and cracking out properly-executed heel-toe downshifts on the way back to a standstill.
We want our customers to know what we know. It’s a great moment for us at our showroom in Dallas, TX, when a customer comes in saying that they never thought they were a “car person” but changed their tune after reading our how-to and information pages. We hope that you’ve enjoyed our manual vs. automatic transmission comparison article; we would love it if you could share it with your friends if you found it helpful. Lastly, our inventory of quality used cars under $15k have both transmission types available, so if you’ve always wanted to experiment with a manual or automatic, you can do it without making your budget pop out of gear!
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