Manual vs. Automatic Fuel Efficiency: An Overview for Students in Automotive Training

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Keeping a car’s tank full is one of the more significant expenses associated with owning or driving a vehicle. And although a car’s transmission may not play as big of a role as other components, it’s still important to know how it can affect fuel efficiency.
Generally, the transmission of a vehicle can be either manual or automatic. Manual transmissions are typically found in older cars because the technology that led to automatic transmissions wasn’t incorporated into production until relatively recently. Automatic transmissions come in a variety of forms ranging from semi-automatic to fully automatic, with a new type of transmission known as dual clutch recently becoming more prevalent in the automotive market.
If you’re interested in starting a career as a mechanic, read on to learn a little more about transmissions and fuel efficiency.

A Manual Transmission Can Add a Potential Boost to Overall Gas Mileage

One of the main benefits of a car that uses a manual transmission is the fact that it typically includes better gas mileage. Manual transmissions use a clutch instead of the torque convertor that you will commonly see in automatic transmissions after automotive training school. A torque converter couples the engine with the mechanical gears, but it is less effective when a car is in motion, which causes a vehicle to lose more power and burn more fuel on highways.

A manual transmission uses less energy to change gears than an automatic
A manual transmission uses less energy to change gears than an automatic

One of the general rules of thumb when driving a car with a manual transmission is to keep the RPM of the engine as low as possible. A lower RPM drives the engine to consume less fuel, and also reduces the friction that’s generated while the car is running, which improves the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Newer generations of automatic transmissions, however, have put up more of a challenge to manual models, especially in regards to fuel efficiency.

You May See Improved Automatic Transmission Efficiency After Automotive Training

In previous years, automatic transmissions had a worse reputation for fuel efficiency than their manual counterparts. Recently, however, new transmission technology is being adopted to close the fuel gap, and you should expect to see a few changes after automotive training.
One of the reasons why past versions of the automatic transmission had lower fuel efficiency was because of their limited amount of gear speeds. Automatic transmissions usually only included three or four-speed options, which led to a higher RPM and thus a higher rate of fuel use. Transmissions today include up to five or six speeds, which help offset the lost energy.
The use of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) and dual-clutch transmissions are helping automatic transmissions get one step closer to better fuel efficiency. CVTs can continuously change their gear ratios for maximum fuel efficiency, while dual-clutch transmissions combine the best benefits of a manual and automatic transmission—namely a manual’s gears with an automatic’s control unit—to provide a smoother transition between gear shifts.
Are you interested in taking the next step towards a rewarding career in the automotive industry?
Contact CATI for more information about our mechanic training schools.

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