Understanding the Misconceptions of Manual vs. Automatic Transmission

Manual transmissions were once the standard.  But as the demand dwindled in recent years and technology improved, they’ve only grown more rare.  Pretty soon, knowing how to drive a manual transmission may become a lost art.  But before going extinct, let’s address several of the most common misconceptions associated with it.


It seems far-fetched for would-be car thieves to avoid manual transmissions entirely. And guess what? It is.  The numbers simply don’t back up the myth that manuals are harder or less desirable to steal.  But that doesn’t keep this one from enduring in the minds of many.


Generally speaking, manuals are indeed cheaper than their automatic counterparts.  And because manual transmissions are less complicated, repairs are usually simpler and less expensive.  Although, it’s more likely an automatic transmission will last for the vehicle’s total lifespan, while most manual transmission cars require at least one pricey clutch replacement. 


It was once true that cars with manual transmission offered greater fuel economy.  However, in recent years cars in general have made greater strides in this department. This has helped to close the gap between automatic and manual transmissions in terms of fuel efficiency.  Nowadays, automatics are a fine choice for the environmentally conscious.

The Coolest

The concept of “cool” has been debatable for most of us since the about 7th grade. And which cars fall into that category is certainly no different. It used to be the case that the most popular supercars and sports cars were only available in manual transmission. But that too, like so much we’ve seen, has changed over time. Amazingly, in some cases, the opposite is true. One legendary Italian car company abandoned manual transmissions entirely a few years ago.  Something that would have been utterly unimaginable mere decades ago.

But it still comes down to the personal choice of each driver. As we’ve seen, the clear rationale for choosing manual transmission over automatic is simply not supported anymore. But as long as manual exists, there will be enthusiasts to press that clutch and shift.  Even if in the end, the ultimate decision comes down to nostalgia.

Share which transmission type you prefer and why in the comment section. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. 2
    Mike McMahan

    I learned to drive in the family ’67 Buick Skylark automatic. My first owned car was a 1971 4 door Toyota Coralla 5 speed. It got 33 mpg when gas was under a dollar a gal. I’ve also owned VW’s and Hondas that were manual transmissions. For me manual cars make for an enhanced driving experience and convey a “fun” factor .Today I drive a manual 2000 Jeep Wrangler with 227,000 miles. And yes I did have to replace the clutch once. I have a ’79 4 speed MGB hobby car . But then I have my 2013 Volt. Despite it being an auto-tran it is one of the more fun cars Ive owned . It is zippy as heck, especially when toggled for electric Sport mode. As might be expected I tend to use the manual auto-shift lever to drop between L and D with frequency to gain better regen miles. Today’s auto – tran cars are well designed, have fewer mechanical issues , and many produce decent mpg. But what can I say. Shifting is in my DNA.

  2. 3
    Jerry Henry

    I was 5 when my dad started letting me sit in his lap and drive his mercury comet.
    From there it was a impala with 3 on the tree and later on my first vehicle was a 65 Chevy step side with 3 on the tree, land cruiser with 3 on the tree.
    My dad had several pickups with 4 speeds and used for his work trucks.
    They worked great no issues to speak of.
    But I have always preferred and automatic for hunting and playing in the mud.
    Road performance playing in the tight corners I would rather have a manual as I can use the gears to cut speed and not roast my brakes.

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