The truth about manual and automatic cars

Automatic transmission cars have been around since the 1930s and yet car owners are still divided when it comes to owning an automatic or a manual car, because of a number of myths that still exist. Here are five of the most common myths debunked:


Myth #1: Manual cars use less fuel than automatic cars

Verdict: FALSE

Unfortunately, this myth is no longer true, thanks to advancements in automatic transmission technology. These days, car manufacturers are capable of producing automatic cars with up to ten-speed automatic transmission, putting them on equal footing with their manual counterparts in terms of fuel economy.


Myth #2: Manual cars are cheaper than automatic cars

Verdict: TRUE

In many instances, car manufacturers would price the manual version cheaper because:

  • Manual parts are less complicated
  • Manual cars are less popular


Myth #3: Manual car parts are cheaper to repair

Verdict: TRUE, but…

Manual transmission is formed by mechanical gears, which are cheaper to repair and replace. Automatic transmission costs more to repair due to the complexity of the systems in the automatic gear boxes.

However, this is highly dependent on your driving style. If you drive a manual and have a habit of leaving your foot on the clutch pedal, you’ll burn through it quickly. Repairs and maintenance costs to replace the clutch system can quickly add up above and beyond the cost of maintaining an automatic vehicle.  


Myth #4: Manual cars are not as smooth of a drive

Verdict: TRUE

When you drive a manual car, each time you shift gears, the car undergoes a distinct loss of speed while the clutch disengages and reengages the gear. As a passenger, this could lead to a jerky ride, especially if the driver is not particularly smooth at shifting gears. For automatic cars, the gear transmission is automatic, and while gear shifts can still be subtly felt, they are a lot smoother by comparison.


Myth #5: Manual cars are safer


It is believed that manual cars are involved in less accidents because they demand more attention and control from the drivers. Whereas, automatic cars are equipped with modern safety mechanisms that lower the chance of an accident from happening.

Turns out, neither is safer than the other. What matters is the attentiveness of the driver, not the transmission.

Automatic or manual, which would you choose?

Ultimately, choosing a manual or automatic transmission vehicle is a matter of personal preference. But before you make a decision, it’s always good to learn the pros and cons, and differentiate the myths from truths.