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Offline brandon

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Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« on: August 24, 2010, 03:00:24 am »
The editor of Car and Driver magazine bemoans the disappearance of the manual transmission (i.e. a stick shift with a clutch pedal) and cites this as one of the reasons only 30% of U.S. 16 year-olds bother to get a driver's license. (2008 data)

He suggests that if driving were more fun, more 15 and 16 year-olds would put aside their computer games and sign up for driver training.

Of course there are some other issues, such as environmentalism, insurance cost, parental permission, etc.

In many parts of the country, there really aren't many jobs available for 16 year-olds. Traditional jobs for teenagers such as lawn mowing and burger flipping are generally done by illegal immigrants, and the recession pushed many adults into retail jobs once filled by teenagers.

Aside from all that, can you drive a stick shift? Fortunately it is perfectly flat where I live, so it's easy enough to learn. Unfortunately, in stop and go traffic, the fun wears off pretty quickly.

As far as longevity goes, if you buy a used car with a standard transmission, it's almost a given that it will need a new clutch soon, and probably a throw-out bearing, maybe a clutch cylinder if it's hydraulic, and quite possibly some new synchros or gears in the transmission.

Although hot weather and deep water prematurely kill a lot of automatic transmissions around here, in theory, an automatic transmission should last several hundred thousand miles without problems.
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Offline Dan

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2010, 03:23:10 am »
Aside from all that, can you drive a stick shift? Fortunately it is perfectly flat where I live, so it's easy enough to learn. Unfortunately, in stop and go traffic, the fun wears off pretty quickly.

I learned in a Mountain Chain which doesn't deter anyone from sticking dangerously close to you in steep slopes.

Maybe you should have added a geographical component to your poll, in Europe (or at least in France) there is a price difference that incites people to go toward manual because it's cheaper. In North America, it's completely a personal preference issue.
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Offline brandon

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2010, 04:09:50 am »
Is there a price difference just in the cost of the vehicle, or also in the annual registration fees?

Even if an automatic costs more initially, with the high price of fuel in Europe, an automatic (especially a CVT) probably makes more sense unless the vehicle will be used primarily for highway driving. In city driving, even the most expert drivers will use significantly more fuel with a manual than with a modern automatic transmission.

In highway driving on flat terrain, a standard may give better fuel economy, although for many cars, the gearing in top gear is taller in the automatic than in the manual version, so the automatic will use less fuel.

It does depend on the vehicle though. In a large pickup truck, I will get better fuel economy with a manual transmission.
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Offline Dan

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2010, 04:18:13 am »
Aren't you vastly overestimating people's long term planing abilities?
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Offline tolkienfan86

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2010, 04:34:41 am »
My understanding is stick shifts are much more prevalent in Europe. I've heard in some European countries it's relatively easy to get a license for autos but if you want to drive a manual you have to get a license for that too.

When I was looking for my car I looked real hard for a stick shift. None of the dealers had many sticks and most of the individual sellers did not as well. Believe me I preferred a stick at the time (still do) but just could not find a suitable one. On second thought, don't know if I'd want to drive a manual up and down Seattle's hills. And plus living in a city I'd find constantly manually shifting gears in stop and go traffic would get tiring.

I can't complain about my current car too much even though it's an auto. It gets me from point A to point B, 30+ mpg on the freeway and has great stereo sound. It's a Japanese car and only had 60k miles when I bought it about two years ago.


Offline Fitz1980

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2010, 05:56:56 am »
The editor of Car and Driver magazine bemoans the disappearance of the manual transmission (i.e. a stick shift with a clutch pedal) and cites this as one of the reasons only 30% of U.S. 16 year-olds bother to get a driver's license. (2008 data)

I would love to see a cite for that one.  Where I'm from everybody was lining up to get their DL on the day they turned 16, even if they didn't have anything but their parents' cars to drive.

Personally I learned to drive on an automatic because that was all my folks had & for years couldn't drive a stick (manual).  My old roommate Maria was a car enthusiast who always drove stick-shifts taught me how to drive a stick.  After totaling my car in a 4 car pileup on I-95 (not my fault) I rode around in hers for a few weeks before getting a new one.  Her's was a stick and I was really getting used to it, but I was short on cash an automatic was the best deal I could find.  It was rather difficult for the first week getting used to not shifting gears after I'd been doing it for almost a month in her car.

Offline Dan

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 06:06:03 am »
It was rather difficult for the first week getting used to not shifting gears after I'd been doing it for almost a month in her car.

I drove for years with a manual and the old reflexes are hard to break.
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Offline Fitz1980

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 06:15:30 am »
It was rather difficult for the first week getting used to not shifting gears after I'd been doing it for almost a month in her car.

I drove for years with a manual and the old reflexes are hard to break.

For sure.  Me and GF both know how to drive sticks & are currently sharing an automatic as our only car.  We both agree that when we get another car it's going to be a stick.

Offline brandon

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 02:56:09 pm »
The editor of Car and Driver magazine bemoans the disappearance of the manual transmission (i.e. a stick shift with a clutch pedal) and cites this as one of the reasons only 30% of U.S. 16 year-olds bother to get a driver's license. (2008 data)

I would love to see a cite for that one. 

Quote from: WRAL Raleigh,January 25 2010
The decline is part of a nationwide trend. Data released Friday by the Federal Highway Administration shows 30 percent of 16-year-olds got their licenses in 2008, compared with 44 percent in 1988.
full story: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/6882164/
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Offline Bobbert

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2010, 05:03:27 pm »
South Carolina changed their laws so you have to be 17 before you can get your full license.  You can only get a learner's permit at 16.  SC isn't a big state, but changes like that will effect the statistics.

SC drivers can take their driving test in any vehicle they choose, and everyone picked an automatic because it was just plain easier.  Not having to worry about a clutch should make more teens drive.  You don't reach the "fun" stage until you're comfortable driving at all.

Offline prodigal_son

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 05:06:34 pm »
Here's an English perspective. There are 2 different full licenses available here. One just for autos and one that you can drive both. If people can't deal with a manual then they take the auto test and hence there is stigma around it 'ha you can only drive automatics!' I would say 90% of cars here are manual, not a scientific figure, just my guess. My first car was a 1.1 petrol, so up steep hills you really had to work the gears to make it to the top! Plus a manual is way more fun to drive. When you are going fast on a good winding road, there is nothing else like working your way up and down the gears to get the most from the engine. An auto box can't anticipate what you are about to do, if you want to overtake, or if there is a corner etc. So getting in the right gear can be hit or miss. Driving an auto isn't real driving, why do you think racing cars like rally cars are all manual? Yes I have driven an auto and that was fun because it was a 3.2litre turbo diesel mercedes! So if you hadn't guessed already, I wouldn't swap my manual for an auto, unless you are offering me an aston martin, then I might consider it!

Offline brandon

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 07:07:04 pm »
I got to drive a car without power steering once. It was an old Porsche 911. It had the best steering feel of any car I've driven. The steering was not heavy since the engine was in the rear. Not sure I'd want to drive it on a windy day though, with such a light front end.

Getting back to the fuel economy penalty of manuals:

The CVT version of the 2011 Honda CR-Z hybrid is rated at 35 miles per gallon (US) city, 39 mpg highway.

The manual gearbox version is rated at only 31 mpg city, 37 mpg highway.

In real life, manual drivers will keep the car in too low a gear much of the time in city driving, so the real world penalty for the manual will be even greater.
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Offline peteR

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2010, 02:18:11 am »
Here in Austria, cars with manual transmission are standard. When you take the test with a car with automatic transmission, your driving license is limited to them. I've driven several cars since I was 16, and none of them had automatic transmission.

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2010, 01:22:32 am »
Yep manual all the way for me. I can't stand the lag and unresponsiveness of the auto.

Offline peteR

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Re: Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2010, 02:14:14 am »
Yep manual all the way for me. I can't stand the lag and unresponsiveness of the auto.
That wouldn't apply to a double clutch transmission.