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Transmission Trends – Manual vs. Automatic

Published on July 31, 2014 by in CATI

Manual Vs. Automatic

It wasn’t that long ago that automatic transmissions were introduced in cars across the country. This game-changing innovation made vehicles much easier to driver, as shifting gears was now done automatically. Today, consumers have the choice between manual and automatic transmissions, and though automatic is a much more popular option, there are still plenty of reasons to drive a car equipped with a manual transmission. To understand why, we first need to look at the pros and cons of each model.

Automatic Transmission

Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission uses multiple sets wired to a clutch system that change gears for you. The system monitors the motor’s revolutions per minute (RPM) and adjust the gear accordingly, moving up or down. Driving a car equipped with an automatic transmission is much easier than a manual transmission, as the driver doesn’t have to worry about changing gears, meaning more time can be spent concentrating on the road. On the other hand, a car that uses an automatic transmission usually consumes slightly more fuel than its manual counterpart. Moreover, the car can be more expensive to fix and can require more maintenance from a professional with auto mechanic training.

Manual Transmission

The manual transmissions in today’s cars feature a clutch connected to a gear shifter, which allow drivers to change gears while driving. In terms of mechanical design, it’s a much simpler system to understand than an automatic transmission, but using it requires more effort and attention from the driver. Cars equipped with manual transmissions are usually cheaper to repair and perform better at the level of fuel efficiency. When driving, the vehicle tends to accelerate faster and can handle inclines and steep hills better. Lastly, people who drive cars equipped with a manual transmission often claim that they are more fun to drive. The main drawback with manual transmissions, of course, is that they are more difficult to drive.

Here’s an interesting video illustrating how the clutch works:

Market Trends

It’s interesting to note that sales of cars equipped with manual transmissions have gone up last year, marking their best performance at retail since 2006. It seems like the market is seeing a stick-shift renaissance, with more interest from consumers and a wider variety of models available. Behind this market shift are grassroots efforts like that of the editors of the magazine Car And Driver, who have launched a campaign called Save The Manuals. The campaign teaches younger drivers the benefits of manual transmissions and lobbies automakers to produce more vehicles that come with a manual transmission option.

In the end, the choice between an automatic or manual transmission for your car should be based on personal preference. If you’ve never driven manual before, you may be surprised by how much different (and fun!) it is from driving automatic. Or you may find it cumbersome and capricious. If you’re still unsure, ask an instructor teaching an auto mechanic course at your auto mechanic school for advice.

 
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