23 Nov 2023

Manual vs. Automatic: which one suits you?

When deciding what vehicle you’d like to choose, one of the key things to consider is whether you want it to have manual or automatic transmission. In most cases this will depend on personal choice, the extent of your driving experience, the types of journeys you mostly take, how much mechanical involvement you prefer to have with your vehicle and how comfortable you like to be when driving. To help, we’ve summarised some important points to consider below.

Manual vs. Automatic: which one suits you?

Understanding Manual Transmission

In the UK, manual transmission vehicles used to account for most of the vehicles on the road and automatic transmission was something of a rarity. Nowadays, with more and more vehicles manufactured all over the world, manual transmission is no longer always the standard.

A manual transmission gearbox requires the driver to select gears manually using a gear stick and clutch and most manual transmission vehicles now have five or six forward gears in addition to a reverse.

In the engine of a manual vehicle, the foot pedal-operated clutch controls whether the transmission is connected to the engine. This allows the driver to apply pressure and to change gear whenever they feel it is appropriate, something which, when done with practice, can reduce how much fuel is burned by the engine.

Understanding Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission vehicle requires less input from the driver. Under normal driving conditions, once the transmission is put into drive mode, everything else happens automatically.

Pros and Cons of each

Most people learn to drive manual vehicles which then gives them the flexibility to switch to automatic later.  It’s more difficult to do it the other way round and has implications for your driving licence.  In the UK at least, a manual gearbox is still more common, particularly when it comes to smaller vehicles; larger and luxury vehicles are increasingly focused on automatic engines.

If you are likely to be driving regularly in challenging or adverse conditions, a manual gearbox can give you more control as it allows you to change up and down the gears to suit the conditions.

The rise in automatic transmission is attributed to the growing prevalence of electric and hybrid vehicles and the ease of integrating the technology within associated safety systems.

If you undertake a lot of motorway driving and long journeys, you may find an automatic vehicle makes things easier and more comfortable behind the wheel. Drivers with lower limb or foot problems may also prefer an automatic vehicle.

In terms of maintenance, automatic transmission vehicles are less likely to incur problems because the gear changes are carried out by the vehicle’s in-built technology rather than requiring human skill and practice; however, if problems do arise, automatic cars can be more costly to repair.