Which Car Should You Buy? Automatic vs Manual Transmissions

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Consider factors like your commute and budget when choosing between automatic and manual transmissions. (Photo: @divebatman via Twenty20)
If you’ve driven both automatic and manual transmission cars, you know they each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, if you haven’t driven both types, it may be hard to know which one is best for you. There are a few things you should consider before you choose which one to buy, as outlined in this article.

The Cost of the Car

A car with a manual transmission costs less than a car with an automatic one. Typically, the cost difference is about $1,000. Depending on how you plan on paying for the car, the difference can make a big impact on your pocketbook.
Maintenance costs are usually lower with manual transmissions because they require less upkeep. Add these considerations up and the cost difference becomes significant, both in the short and long term.

The Daily Commute

If you live in a big city with a lot of stop-and-go traffic during commuting hours, you may grow weary of a manual transmission. Constantly shifting gears for long periods of time several days a week takes a toll on your legs. Some people have even been known to have larger thigh and calf muscles in their left leg from all the shifting and depressing of the clutch during their commute.
A long commute with lots of traffic usually steers individuals towards a car with an automatic transmission because it’s easier to drive.

Convenience vs. Control and Power

Automatic transmissions are designed to take the guesswork out of driving, as they change gears for you. However, if you are looking for more control and immediate power, you might enjoy a manual transmission instead.
With a manual transmission, you can shift gears at your leisure and give your car a power boost when it’s needed. You can also control your car better in adverse weather conditions.
In contrast, cars with an automatic transmission are easier to handle going uphill, with little danger of sliding backwards as the gears shift.

Focus and Concentration

Driving a car with a manual transmission requires you to focus more on your driving, concentrating on the process of shifting gears. For example, as your right arm shifts the gear, you have to have your left foot press the clutch and, depending on what you are doing, your right foot has to press on the gas or brake.
It takes a lot of practice to learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission. But it also takes practice to switch from a manual to automatic transmission. People have been known to push an invisible “clutch” when making the transmission.

Fuel Economy

If driven correctly, a car with a manual transmission will get better fuel economy. While the difference in fuel economy between automatic and manual transmissions isn’t as great as it used to be, it’s still there. However, if you like to drive fast or live in an area with lots of hills, you may not get any cost savings.
If you drive a sports car, you probably won’t save any money as they use more fuel to run. But then again, if you are driving a sports car, you probably aren’t too concerned about saving money on gas.
When it comes to choosing between a car with automatic or manual transmission, it really comes down to personal preference. While you can save money and have more control with a manual transmission, an automatic car can be easier to drive and make your commute less stressful.
Also, it is becoming harder to find manual transmissions in new cars as they have lost popularity, so they may not be an option if you want a specific car.
A lot of thought has to go into choosing the right car. Whether you’re deciding between different transmissions, types of vehicles, price points, or one of many other factors, it’s worth it to take the time to test out as many cars as possible so you’re happy with your choice.