Manual vs Automatic Transmission Are They Equally Matched?

Auto Repair Transmission

A car using automatic transmission shifts gears upwards and downwards itself giving the driver the least amount of work to do. While a manual transmission gives driver full control over the gear shift. What is the difference between two that will help you to make the most informed decision for your new ride?

Role of transmission in a vehicle

A car’s transmission, whether manual or automatic, shares the same job: transmitting the power of the engine to the wheels. The way in which this transmission happens is the major way in which each transmission style contrasts.


Manual transmission changes gear manually. It takes an effort of a driver to shift gears while moving hand and foot in coordination. A foot pushes the clutch pedal to disengage power from engine whereas hand shifts the gears through gear lever for the appropriate speed.

In an automatic transmission, there’s no clutch pedal involved. Instead, a torque converter shifts gear over the course of your ride by using hydraulic pressure without any additional driver input. The driver just has to shift out of the park at the start.


Manual transmissions cost less than automatics. And it’s not just the initial costs, service/repair costs are also considerably lower in case of manuals.

  1. Manual transmissions are straightforward and much simpler in design than automatic transmissions. 
  2. They have fewer parts or components that can fail and cause the car’s transmission to operate improperly. 
  3. The most common problems with manual transmissions are not with the transmission itself but rather with the clutch i-e wear out the clutch or clutch plate assembly by incorrect or overuse.

Generally, maintenance costs are lower.

  1. Automatic transmissions, on the other hand, are far more complicated than manuals. 
  2. Modern automatic vehicles use plenty of electronics and computer modules. They are difficult to diagnose and repair.  
  3. In fact, most of the problems associated with modern automatic transmissions are computer or electronics related. 
  4. Not many mechanics and technicians are well equipped to work on automatic transmissions.

Therefore, the repair costs are significantly higher than manual transmissions.

Maintenance and Repair cost is certainly a factor to compare these two types of transmission.

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Importance of Fuel Economy

Better gas mileage is a big consideration for both manual and automatic transmissions. In the early days, manual transmissions were more fuel efficient, but today, modern automatic transmissions have improved their efficiency to the point where mileage differences really are no longer a significant factor. However, in some cars, a manual transmission can improve gas mileage by a slight amount overall, compared with automatic. Fuel economy mainly depends on driving style.

Driving Experience and Acceleration

In manual transmissions, the driver has better control of engine performance based on the driving situation at hand. Manual transmissions can also improve acceleration, sometimes significantly. Many drivers find manual transmissions more engaging and enjoy the challenge associated with a driving stick.  Being in control of each speed shift puts the driver in a more tuned driving experience than driving an automatic.

In general, agile drivers would prefer to drive manual transmission more than an automatic.

Manual and Automatic Transmission in Snow, Ice and Off-road conditions

The manual transmission does offer a distinct advantage over automatic when driving in snow and ice. The engine brake is an important factor while driving on slippery surfaces such as snow and ice.  The solid link between driving wheels and the engine present in this transmission provides a valuable driving aid to drivers in the off-road environment, by allowing the use of engine braking while descending slippery slopes where the use of ABS brakes could be dangerous.

Using the foot brake as little as possible is essential in lowering the risk of a skid when slowing down or stopping. As manual transmission vehicles allow full control over gears and speed by using clutch control, engine braking can be mastered, giving maximum control in such dangerous conditions.

Manual/Automatic Transmission Advantages and Disadvantages


  1. Usually less expensive.
  2. Driver in full control of gear selection.
  3. Extremely robust, and can handle high torque loads.
  4. Manuals require more skill and experience to operate well.
  5. Can become tiresome in stop-start urban traffic.


  1. Relaxed and more convenient drive.
  2. Very easy to use and provides a comfortable driving experience.
  3. Unsuitable for use in off-road environments.
  4. Relatively more expensive to maintain over a vehicle’s lifetime.
  5. Complex and prone to failures and malfunctions due to a variety of possible issues.

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