What Is the The Difference Between Automatic Transmission and Manual Transmission?

Jan 15, 2020

What Is the The Difference Between Automatic Transmission and Manual Transmission?

Whether you’re in the process of buying a new car or learning to drive, it can be an exciting process. The big decision you must make is whether you will drive an automatic or a manual car, especially when you’re learning.

What’s the difference between manual and automatic transmission?

In the UK, the most commonly found transmission in cars is manual. To be able to change gear, the driver has to put pressure on the clutch pedal, which temporarily disconnects the engine from the road wheels before selecting the next gear.

An automatic gearbox will automatically select the gear that suits the car’s speed. This is done by temporarily disconnecting drive to the road wheels while changing gear. Traditionally, this was done by a fluid coupling torque converter, but many automatic cars today feature automated clutches as this is better for fuel economy.

Pros for automatic transmission:

  • When learning to drive in an automatic, it can allow you to focus more on speed and road positioning.
  • Most people find an automatic car easier to drive than a manual.
  • Automatic cars are more reliable and less susceptible to driver abuse than a manual.
  • An automatic car is often a smoother ride as it offers a seamless transmission between gears.

Cons for automatic transmission:

  • More expensive to buy, regardless of whether they’re new or second hand.
  • More expensive to repair.
  • Passing your test in an automatic means you only have a licence to drive an automatic, if you want to drive a manual you have to retake your test.

Pros for manual transmission:

  • You have greater control with a manual gearbox as you choose which gear to use. Beneficial in wintry conditions.
  • Some automatics lack speed, although many are now fitted with dual-clutch technology to make them quicker. A manual gearbox is traditionally better at transferring power from your engine to your wheels so you can accelerate at a faster pace.
  • They generally are cheaper to maintain and repair, unless the clutch goes!

Cons for manual transmission:

  • Some believe that manuals are not as safe, as it requires you to take one hand off the wheel to change gear.
  • Constantly using your left leg to work the clutch can cause aches and pains in some people, especially when driving long distances.

What is the difference between automatic and semi-automatic cars?

A semi-automatic gearbox is an automated manual or clutchless manual transmission. With semi-automatic transmission, drivers can switch gears in the same way a manual driver would but without using a clutch. In fact, the clutch pedal is removed, and all its functions are performed by the car.

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