on 12, Feb 2019

Manual Vs Automatic Transmission: Myths You Need to Ignore

The debate of Manual vs Automatic transmission emerged as soon as cars with automatic transmission started gaining immense popularity. Earlier to be seen only in luxury cars, the automatic transmission is now being provided in the form of an additional variant with almost every car. Why is it getting popular? Is it better than a manual? Will it replace the manual transmission entirely in the near future? It is obvious to get such questions in mind while comparing the manual with automatic.

But before going into details, you need to get your answers ready for the following questions. Are you getting fatigue from driving in traffic conditions? Are you looking for a comfortable drive? Is changing gears becoming cumbersome? Do you love downshifting and upshifting gears? For whom are you looking to buy the car- young or elderly? After having the answers to all these questions, it is time to become an informed buyer. We bring out to you a detailed comparison between the two.   

Manual Transmission – What Is It?


In a manual car, you have a 5 or 6-speed gearbox with a reverse mode. The gear stick can be shifted in the form of an H shaped gear shift pattern. To upshift or downshift the gear, you need to press the clutch that disengages it and then you need to slot the gear stick into the required position.

For example, when you slot the gear lever into the first gear, only the first gear present on the output shaft is in mesh with another gear on the countershaft, which is connected to the input shaft of the engine. Both the gears will move at the same speed and thus the transfer of power occurs from the engine through the clutch to the wheels, which helps you to move your car forward.

When you upshift to second gear, you need to disconnect the power between the running engine and the transmission. While upshifting, you can easily speed up your car as the speed of the output shaft is increased. All gears in transmission have separate gear ratios. The largest of all these gears is the first gear which is enmeshed with a smaller gear.

As a result, it will have the highest gear ratio. The gear size as well as the gear ratio decreases as we move from the first to the fourth/fifth gear. All the forward gears can be shifted without stopping the car but for sliding the car into reverse gear, it is necessary that the car is at rest otherwise it may result in damage to the transmission. More the number of gears, the more complex is the transmission.

For understanding the working of a manual transmission, watch the video in the link given here: https://youtu.be/wCu9W9xNwtl

Automatic Transmission – What Is It?


Automatic Transmission has been overshadowing its manual counterpart as it is gaining more and more popularity. Different manufacturers use different types of automatic and semi-automatic transmissions such as CVT, DSG, single automated clutches and twin clutches. A traditional automatic transmission houses a mechanical device known as a torque converter.

The transmission utilises the torque converter to transfer the power from the engine to the wheels as per the demand, that is based on the speed at which you are driving your car. Thus, there is no need for a clutch and the number of gears is also lesser than in those present in a manual transmission. Mostly, you will find four gears in an automatic transmission: D for Drive, N for Neutral, P for Park and R for Reverse.

For understanding the working of an automatic transmission, watch the video in the link given here: https://youtu.be/u_y1S8C0Hmc

Now that we have a brief knowledge of both the transmissions and how they work, it is best to bring out a comparison between the two by understanding the positives and negatives of each transmission.   

Manual Transmission


  • Connectivity with Your Car: With a manual transmission, you will feel more connected to your car as have the control. This is because you are shifting the gears using the gear stick in order to speed up or slow down the car.

  • Less Expensive: Cars equipped with the manual gearbox are cheaper by at least a thousand dollars. If you are on a budget, then the manual will be the best buy.

  • Lesser Expenditure on Maintenance: Automatic transmission use complex mechanisms to make your driving simpler but in the long run they require a lot of maintenance to keep it running properly. On the other hand, the manual transmission does not require much maintenance and the main costs, in case of the manual transmission are incurred on replacing the worn-out clutch.

  • Fuel Economy: As manual transmission systems are less complex and lighter in weight as compared to an automatic transmission, they result in better fuel economy. But the gap between the fuel economy in manual and automatic transmissions is getting thinner, thanks to the development of technology. In very few cars, the automatics outperform the manual in terms of this parameter.

  • Quicker Acceleration: A manual transmission does not have a torque converter that consumes engine power, instead it directly transfers the power from your car’s heart to its wheels so that you can accelerate in no time.    

  • Joy for Car Enthusiasts: Ask any car enthusiast and he will answer you very well as to why he enjoys driving a manual car than an automatic. The fun of upshifting and downshifting gives you a feeling that you are driving a Ferrari. Unless you don’t have full control of your car, you don’t get the fun of driving it. The level of satisfaction you get from pressing the clutch and changing the gears yourself cannot be derived from an automatic car.

  • Theft: Not everyone is comfortable while operating a manual car, while in case of automatic, you just need to slot the gear into ‘Driving’ mode. As a result, manual cars are less likely to be stolen as very few people know how to drive a manual car. Thus, it would not be wrong to term a manual transmission ‘an anti-theft device’.


  • Changing Gears, A Headache: This is the reason why automatic cars are taking over their manual counterparts. Instead of just concentrating on the drive, you will continuously need to change gears, which requires effort. This changing of gears can become very irritating when driving in stop-go traffic.  

  • Safety: Whenever someone is new to driving or for any amateur driver also, it is advised to keep both hands on the steering wheel. But with a manual, you need to shift the gears time and again to fulfil your engine’s requirement. As a result, you need to take a hand off which compromises your safety behind the steering wheel.

  • Pressing the Clutch: For changing gears in a manual car, you need to utilise the clutch. If you are driving in congested and high traffic cities, it becomes a real pain to press the clutch, leading to pain in your foot and leg.

  • Learning: A time consuming and effort taking process? If you have never driven an automatic before, then surely it would not be an easy task to do that with a manual. You really need to coordinate your hand and feet movement while operating the gear stick and clutch. In other words, you will need to master your multitasking skills.

  • Transmission Failure: It is possible that you might occasionally grind the gears i.e. driving in second gear when your car is demanding fourth. In such scenarios, you will have to pay a handsome sum for the replacement of your transmission.

  • Lower Resale Value: Your manual car may fetch you a lower sum as many people look out for automatic as they don’t know how to drive a manual.

  • Stalling: Isn’t it embarrassing to see your car stranded in the middle of a busy road and you trying to get to manoeuvre it away from the busy traffic? Most of the cars that face stalling issues are manual ones.

  • Steep Inclines: With a manual car, it is difficult to move up an incline without sliding down, especially when you start from a standstill. Things can be dangerous if you fail to stop the car while sliding down.

Automatic Transmission


  • Relaxed Ride: The automatic transmission handles everything for you. You just need to select the Drive mode i.e. ‘D’. You are only required to change the gears when reversing or parking the car.

  • More-safety: While driving an automatic car, both your hands can be utilised to get hold of the steering., thus helping you in lane driving and adding safety to your overall ride.

  • Better Suited for Traffic Conditions: As you don’t need to shift gears again and again, just concentrate on getting your car out of the traffic.  

  • The absence of Clutch pedal: Forget about muscle aches in your foot and leg as automatic cars are clutch-less. Automatic cars have only two pedals- acceleration and brake.

  • Makes Steep Inclines Look Easier: Driving in the hills is now made simpler with the automatic transmission. Leave aside the fear of rolling back and just enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you.  

  • Fewer chances of stalling

  • Highly useful for senior citizens and disabled


  • Complex Design: As the automatic transmission deploys torque converter and other additional mechanisms, the overall design becomes complex.

  • Expensive to buy and maintain: Automatics are costlier than manual ones, with the price difference usually thousand dollars and more. Apart from this, due to their complex design, fault detection and costs of repair and replacement are more.

  • Lesser fuel economy: As the torque converter takes power from the engine, it results in reduced fuel economy of your car.

  • Boring to drive: Driving an automatic car is very boring as your car does everything for you and you just have to be seated to make it to your destination. In an automatic car, you don’t feel the connection with your car, as is the case in manual.


While both the transmissions have their own set of positives and negatives, it is up to the buyer to decide the best-suited option for him depending on his preferences. If you want a smoother and comfortable ride or in other words, if you want to get rid of changing gears and pressing the clutch, then automatic is the best option for you. On the other hand, if you pay more attention to the fun from driving rather than just travelling from one location to another, then the manual suits your requirements. Additionally, if you are on a tight budget, then the manual becomes the obvious choice.

Now that you know which is better for you- manual or automatic, you can head out to test drive your favourite car. If you are still confused, better go and test drive both manual and automatic cars in succession and you will understand the difference yourself.

www.trivz.com  is an exciting platform, first of its kind that enables you to connect with car owners for test drives as well as for ownership feedback. You can download the Trivz app from Google Play and App Store.


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