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Solving the Old Auto Question: Automatic or Manual Transmission?

Updated September 29, 2015

Are you a dog or cat person?  The question is as popularly debated as whether one prefers a manual or automatic transmission.  Car consumers have a choice; shopping for a car is not as simple as buying a machine to get you from one point to another.

automatic-vs-manual

Those who value the experience of driving and fuel economy are likely to choose a car with manual transmission, but there are other solutions and transmissions featuring traits of both types.

Here’s information to get behind the right transmission for you.

 

Manual Transmission

 

When it comes to manual transmission, gear selection and change is the sole duty of the driver.  Five or six gears (some sports models feature seven) are leveraged via a shift.  Using the clutch enables the engine to spin at one speed, while the transmission and wheels rotate at another.

Traditionally, those seeking manual transmissions enjoy better control, added gears, faster acceleration, higher speeds, and lower consumption of fuel.  However, today’s automatic models, integrated with computer technology, present other options exceedingly more attractive to drivers.

 

Automated Transmission

 

While those who go manual hardly ever return, those who continue to drive cars with automatic transmissions like the simplicity of the experience.  A number of manufacturers have experimented with clutch-free transmissions, yet no one has excelled at such endeavours.

Awkward gear shifting is a main grievance of automated-manual transmissions.  Other models are semi-automatic, yet drivers are not in full control of the clutch and cannot prevent the amount of lurching.

Other models feature a fully-automatic mode, yet complaints of aggressive or lethargic shifting is a common problem.

 

Automatic Transmission

 

A torque converter, connecting the engine and the transmission, allows automatics to avoid disengaging and re-engaging the clutch when gears shift or the automobile stops.  A clutch unites the engine and transmission, yet a torque converter makes a link between transmission fluids.  If the car is not stopped yet brakes pushed, the fluid propels the impeller, thus affecting the motion of the wheels.

Automatics, despite advantages and intricacies, are more expensive to purchase and maintain.  Today’s models spare little regarding performance, and seven, eight, and nine-speed transmissions are becoming commonplace.

 

Tiptronic Transmission

 

Tiptronic transmissions unite the best of ‘both worlds,’ yet not altogether different from driver-selected gear shifting.  Rather than an alternate transmission, it features an automatic gearbox that makes shifting easier, sometimes associated with buttons fixed on the steering wheel.

 

Dual Clutch Transmission

 

Dual clutch transmissions were engineered to overshadow automatic gearboxes, yet they more closely resemble manual transmissions.  Professionals suggest thinking about a dual clutch as having two manual transmissions in the vehicle (one for even and odd-numbered gears).

Dual transmissions don’t spare any time in switching gears, so associated vehicles are able to outrun manual transmissions.  A ‘wet clutch’ features a large bath of oils and usually associated with high-performance machines.  A ‘dry clutch’ are known for offering better efficiency yet offer less power and torque.

 

Continuously Variable Transmission

 

Variable transmissions are ever in search of that ‘sweet spot,’ balancing power, torque, and handling. A CVT hosts an infinite number of gear ratios with two pulleys connected by a belt.  The engine moves one pulley with the other connected to the wheels.  Car owners champion this type of transmission.

 

Sports Cars

 

Traditionally, sports cars are associated with manual transmissions, most believing that the ‘cooler’ cars have it.  Yet, there’s a reason why major sports car suppliers, Jaguar and Ferrari, don’t offer traditional manual transmissions any longer – there are too many other options when it comes to transmission construction and implementation.

And, only a very small number of car models are only offered with a manual transmission.  It’s very unlikely that you’ll come across a situation where you must buy a manual transmission if you prefer otherwise.

Are you more an automatic or manual transmission type of person?  It’s great to take sides but it’s even better to have a host of choices.

 

Hudson Estell is a self-admitted automotive addict, so his research is a true labour of love. He spends much time researching and learning all about cars. He then posts what he finds on various websites like car and driver blogs.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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