The Differences Between Manual and Automatic Transmissions

Published by Eric Davies, Date: July 21, 2020
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The Differences Between Manual and Automatic Transmissions

Ask when and if your friends and family members learned to drive stick. If they went that route, they’ll likely recall their early driving days as a young adult. Often, students in their late teens or early twenties have parents who teach them, or they dive in by buying a car early on with a manual transmission.

If you’re in college, this is a great time to choose between driving an automatic or a manual. To learn more about the differences between manual and automatic transmissions, and if you want to take the plunge into manual, read this brief guide.

Manual Transmission

It’s the adventure of a stick shift car that grabs some young people. A manual transmission engages more of your driving attention than an automatic, requiring both legs, frequent gear changes, and an ear for your car’s insides. For those wanting this kind of connection, manual is the way to go.

Practically, it has several distinctions. Manual transmissions transition your engine’s power with your input. You must release the clutch by releasing the accelerator pedal with your right foot, pressing the clutch pedal with your left, then adjust gears with your right hand. Once you complete a gear change, you continue driving until another gear change is necessary.

To accommodate these frequent gear changes, manual gearboxes have up to six speeds as well as the aforementioned third pedal. One way to care for your manual transmission when starting out is to avoid riding the clutch, or not completely lifting your foot off after changing gear.

Manual cars can also be cheaper to buy than automatic, meaning you may find one that works well on a tight college budget.

Automatic Transmission

The biggest difference between a manual and an automatic transmission is an automatic’s inherent simplicity. An automatic gets rid of the third pedal, simplifies the gearbox, and doesn’t require your input to change gears as you move.

Rather, as you accelerate, the torque convertor releases the clutch instead of a pedal. Several components, including the planetary gearset, then work in tandem to adjust your gears. All you have to do is put it in drive and go, though this does lack the active fun of driving stick. Among several important automatic transmission maintenance tips, the most important is to routinely check your transmission fluid levels.

Though automatic cars tend to be slightly pricier than stick, you can always hunt for a bargain.

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