Automatic vs Manual Transmission (and myths about them)

Automatic vs Manual Transmission (and myths about them)

Updated on June 22 2024

Automatic and manual transmissions are the two general types of transmissions that can be used in cars. One isn't necessarily better than the other, and each have their own pros and cons.

Let Automart.PH guide you in choosing the best transmission that suits your needs, while also dispelling some myths regarding each.

Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmissions, as the name would suggest, shift automatically, without the need for the driver to manually shift gears. With an automatic transmission, the driver can simply shift from park to drive and the car will automatically shift gears as it accelerates and decelerates.

Automatic transmissions are generally easier to drive than manual transmissions since you no longer have to worry about manually shifting gears. This means no stalling, no clutch to step on, and almost no rolling back on inclines – perfect for in city driving, especially when traffic gets heavy.

The addition of more complex systems inside automatic transmissions, however, make them more expensive to produce. This adds up to the cost of your vehicle up front, and possibly during maintenance.

Pros:

  • Shifts automatically without driver input
  • Easier to drive
  • Cannot stall
  • Won't roll back on inclines (to a certain extent)

Cons:

  • Less engaging to drive
  • More expensive

How does an automatic transmission work?

An automatic transmission pumps transmission fluid from the transmission pan to the torque converter, which is connected to the engine. The torque converter is a type of fluid coupling that transmits power from the engine to the transmission. It uses hydraulic pressure to engage and disengage the transmission from the engine. As the vehicle accelerates, the transmission automatically shifts gears based on the speed of the vehicle and the position of the accelerator pedal. A computer called the transmission control module (TCM), uses many different sensors to ensure the transmission is shifting at the appropriate time and in the appropriate gear for the best power, and fuel economy.

Manual Transmission

Manual transmissions requires the driver to manually shift gears by using a clutch pedal and a gear shifter. Manual transmissions provide the driver with more control over the vehicle's acceleration by varying shift points. This means that you can intentionally make a car rev higher, or lower before shifting, compared to a computer-controlled automatic transmission, giving you a more engaging driving experience.

However, manual transmissions can be more challenging to learn, and require more coordination and skill to operate than an automatic transmission. For instance, manual transmissions are prone to human error. Failing to step on the clutch pedal as you come to a complete stop will cause the engine to stall, and cut off. Driving from a complete stop at a incline may also cause your vehicle to roll backwards and reverse into the vehicle behind you.

Pros:

  • Cheaper to manufacture
  • Engaging to drive

Cons:

  • Requires an additonal process while driving
  • May stall, especially for inexperienced drivers
  • Can be damaged if operated incorrectly

Myths:

There are a number of myths and misconceptions about manual transmissions that have persisted over time. Here are a few of them:

Manual transmissions get better fuel economy than automatics: MYTH

This is not always true. In the past, automatic transmissions were still in the process of development. This resulted in inefficient automatic transmissions that sucked more power out of the engine, and consumed more fuel. They also usually had one to two less gears compared to their manual counterparts, which further decreased fuel economy, especially when driving on the highway. Today, automatic transmissions have become increasingly efficient and can often even surpass manual transmissions in terms of fuel economy and number of gears.

Manual transmissions are cheaper to maintain: MYTH

While manual transmissions may have fewer components and is less complex, they can still require maintenance and repairs over time, and these costs can add up. Additionally, manual transmissions may require more frequent clutch replacements, which can be a significant expense.

Manual transmissions shift faster than automatics: MYTH

In the past, automatic transmissions are known to shift quite slowly, with significant power losses while shifting. Today, with the advancement of computers and technology, automatic transmissions, and especially automated manuals called dual-clutch transmissions (DCTs) are able to shift much faster than humanly possible.

Manual transmissions are more reliable: POSSIBLE

Modern automatic transmissions are made to be very reliable. With proper maintenance, million kilometer automatic transmissions are not unheard of. With the popularity of automatic transmissions greatly overwhelming manual transmissions, constant and faster development for even better designed automatic transmissions are also to be expected.

Meanwhile, manual transmissions are largely reserved for the lowest trim models of vehicles, and performance cars. Hence, their development may not be as fast as that of automatic transmissions. Despite this, manual transmissions have been here for a far longer time than automatic transmissions, and so there are some models which have been tested and proven.

Overall, it boils down to the particular model of the transmission in question. While manual transmissions are less complex, and should, in theory, be more reliable, there are just far more variables that come into play. Some automatic transmissions are more reliable than its manual counterpart, and vice-versa.

Driving a manual transmission is difficult: TRUTH

With practice and patience, many drivers find driving manual transmissions easy. The added step of stepping on the clutch and shifting gears simply become second nature to them.

However, the fact that knowing how to drive a manual also means that you can drive an automatic, but not the other way around, still proves that an automatic transmission is easier to drive, from an objective point of view.

Conclusion:

The choice between an automatic and a manual transmission will depend on a variety of factors, including personal preference, driving conditions, and the type of vehicle being used. For instance, manual transmissions are often preferred in high-performance sports cars because they provide greater control and precision, while automatic transmissions are typically better for city driving and stop-and-go traffic.

In simple terms, if you have a passion for driving, and are particularly excited about spirited drives along twisty roads, and the race track with a sports car, then a manual transmission is the way to go for you. Otherwise, an automatic transmission will always be there better choice. It's more comfortable, easier to drive, and is also more fuel efficient.

With these in mind, have you already decided on which vehicle and corresponding transmission to get? If yes, Automart.PH is here to cater to your needs. We carry thousands of affordable used and repossessed cars in both transmission options. We guarantee the best price possible, and we ensure that you will have a hassle-free car-buying experience with our simple processes and helpful advisors.

Automart.PH also carries like-new certified vehicles with our Automart Certified Vehicle program. These vehicles are the best of the best, and even come with a 1 year, or 10,000 km warranty, and a 5-day, money-back guarantee.