General Talk (primarily non-naturist) > The Hobby Hut

Cars: Manual or Automatic transmission?

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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.


--- Quote from: brandon on August 24, 2010, 03:00:24 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.
--- End quote ---

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.

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.

Aren't you vastly overestimating people's long term planing abilities?

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.


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