Are you a new driver wondering what car you should learn in? Perhaps you’re an experienced driver who already owns a manual car but is looking for a change. Either way, there may come a time when you may need to know the difference between a manual and automatic car.
Although many road users across Northern Ireland still prefer to use a manual gearbox and clutch, automatic cars are becoming increasingly popular with the introduction of electric vehicles. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type of car before you decide on which one is better.
Pros of Manual Cars
- Qualified to drive an automatic: If you learn and pass your driving test in a manual car, then you are also qualified to drive an automatic. Since manual cars are still more common than automatic cars, it’s best to do your test in a car with manual transmission.
- Cheaper costs: Given that manual cars are the preferred choice for consumers, development costs aren’t as expensive as automatic transmissions, so the cost of production is cheaper. Manuals also require less maintenance as they have less complex design systems. However, this isn’t to say that automatics are overly expensive as the price gap is beginning to narrow significantly.
- More control: Allowing you to be in control of the gears puts you in control of the car. This is particularly useful in certain situations such as driving in snowy conditions or through tough terrain.
- Fear of stalling: It’s happened to the majority of us, we’re stopped in traffic but stall just when we’re about to move off. Fear, panic, and embarrassment begin to set in but it’s nothing to be shameful about.
Cons of Manual Cars
- Higher concentration: One of the main problems learner drivers have with manual cars is the ability to change gears, using both the clutch and gear shift to do so. If you’re worried about not being able to concentrate on both tasks at once, then an automatic car is more suitable for you.
- Convenience: Since you don’t need to use a clutch or manually change gears in an automatic car, it’s easier to drive. Because an automatic has only four modes: Park (P), Reverse (R), Neutral (N), and Drive (D), you only need to think about moving forward, backwards or stopping.
Pros of Automatic Cars
- Transport of the future: With the pressure on businesses and consumers to conserve natural resources, electric cars are on the rise. There’s also a ban on petrol and diesel cars coming into effect in 2030 which will inevitably affect the sale of manual cars. As electric cars are automatic, you can get ahead of the curve and opt for an automatic over a manual when purchasing your next vehicle.
- Peace of mind: If you’re worried about driving in traffic because you stall a lot when using a clutch, you’ll feel more confident and less worried about city driving. You also won’t have to constantly pump the clutch when traffic is stopping and starting during rush hour.
Cons of Automatic Cars
- Costs: While It’s not always the case, automatic cars can be more expensive to buy than manuals. Their complex systems mean that the cost of repairs can also be higher.
- Insurance: The cost of car insurance depends on a variety of things such as the make and model of the car, driving experience and claims history. However, the transmission of the car may also be considered when calculating insurance premiums. Automatic cars can be more expensive to repair and may need more maintenance, so the costs of insurance are often higher.
- Licence restrictions: As mentioned, once you’ve passed your driving test in a manual car, you’re also legally allowed to drive an automatic. However, the reverse isn’t true, so your licence is restricted to only driving an automatic car if you’ve passed your test using this transmission.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do automatic cars have a clutch?
No. Considering automatic cars don’t have a manual gearbox, there is no clutch pedal present. All you need to worry about are the accelerator and brake pedals.
Is an automatic easier than a manual?
Automatics are easier than manuals in the sense that they have two pedals: accelerator and brake. You don’t need to worry about using the clutch and gear stick. Many people who fail their test in a manual often end up passing it in an automatic car. However, there are licence restrictions if this is the case.
Should I learn in a manual or automatic?
It’s recommended that you learn to drive a manual car. Doing so will mean that you’re permitted to drive both types of vehicles. If you only pass your test in an automatic, then you’re restricted to driving that vehicle unless you sit your test again in a manual.
Are electric cars manual or automatic?
Electric cars are manufactured with automatic transmissions making them easier to drive. Similar to the automatic, they don’t have clutches and you only need to worry about the Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive modes.
Choosing whether you want a manual or automatic all depends on what you’re most comfortable with. Whether it’s convenience or control, there’s no evidence to suggest one over the other.