Automatic vs Manual Transmission Car

Automatic vs Manual Transmission Car

Automatic vs Manual Transmission Car

There was a time when automatic cars were quite a rarity in India, with only a handful of automakers offering auto variants of select models in their lineup. Today, though, things are fast changing, with most carmakers now offering an automatic transmission option even on their budget cars. A reason for this is the growing preference for such vehicles owing to the ever-increasing traffic and long commuting hours. However, as with everything, people do take time warming up to the idea of driving an automatic car and often wonder if they should actually go for these instead of a conventional model with a manual gearbox. Therefore, in this post, we have come up with a detailed automatic vs. manual transmission comparison to help you choose better.

Ease of Use

This is one area where an automatic car wins hands down. With only a two-pedal setup, a driver doesn’t need to engage and disengage the clutch every time he needs to shift a gear. This simply lets his left footrest while the acceleration and braking are taken care of by the right foot. An automatic transmission car actually makes a lot of sense for all those who have long commutes and often have to drive through a lot of congestion. Not having to use the clutch and the gear lever frequently reduces the driver fatigue to a lot of extent. It’s also easier to learn to drive an automatic car than a manual transmission model. This is, again, due to the fact that using the clutch system to shift gears is often tricky for those learning to drive a car and simply having a two-pedal setup with just accelerator and brake to take care of turns out to be a lot easier.

Fun to Drive

While this is a highly subjective matter, it’s simply undeniable that a manual transmission lets you have complete control on the gearbox and engine speed. In comparison, an automatic transmission might still offer you an option of manual shifting, but that would still not be comparable to a classic manual transmission due to the absence of a manual clutch. Hence, the purists tend to believe that a manual transmission-equipped car is always a better choice than an automatic for those who seek a thrilling driving experience.

Service Cost

It goes without saying that manual transmission cars are mechanically less complicated than their automatic counterparts. Hence, they’re even cheaper to repair and service. An automatic transmission system not only has more components than its manual counterpart but is also a more complex system, which is why maintaining an automatic car turns out to be slightly costlier than a manual one. However, with auto transmissions getting more popular, they are fast closing gap when it comes to the service costs, especially if you take into account AMTs (Automated Manual Transmissions), which are much simpler in comparison to complex automatic transmission like Dual Clutch units. Just to give you an idea, rebuilding a manual transmission may cost you anywhere between Rs 5,000-30,000, depending on the car model. However, rebuilding even an AMT could be a costly affair with a minimum expenditure of Rs 50,000. Of course, DCTs are many times more expensive to overhaul.

Fuel Efficiency

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Thee is a misconception that automatic cars are fuel-guzzlers and nowhere as fuel efficient as their manual counterparts. Well, with advancement in technologies, automatic transmissions have now become nearly as fuel efficient as the manual ones. In fact, for many models, automatic transmissions, especially the dual-clutch units, have turned out to be even more frugal than their manual counterparts. What this simply means is regardless of which transmission type you go for, fuel efficiency is something that will pretty much remain a constant irrespective of your choice.

Purchase Cost

Without beating around the bush, let’s just settle it for once and for all that buying a manual transmission car is easier than an automatic. This is simply because manual systems turn out to be far cheaper than automatics, which leads to a lower sticker price While the difference has come down drastically with the advent of automated manual transmissions, there’s still a substantial price gap between manual and automatic cars. Hence, if you’re on a strict budget and are not flexible with the choice of car and its variant, you might still want to buy a manual unit to avoid over-spending.


Purchasing insurance for an automatic car is always a costlier affair not just because of the higher purchase price of the car but also because of the higher repair costs of automatic transmissions. Therefore, this leads to a higher on-road price of the vehicle when purchasing a new car. It also substantially adds to long-term ownership cost of the vehicle as an insurance policy renewal is costlier when it comes to automatic vehicles. Another reason for a higher cost of insurance for auto transmission-equipped cars is the higher risk involved. While a manual transmission cars isn’t too prone to damage when a vehicle is used on, say, a water-logged street, things actually might go too wrong in case of an automatic car as there can be easily a mechatronics failure in similar conditions.

Pros and Cons

Manual Car ProsManual Car Cons
More fun to driveShifting gears manually can be stressful in heavy traffic conditions
Driver has full control over gears and shiftsIt’s tough to learn to drive a manual car
Less expensive than the automatic versionCompared to an automatic car, a manual transmission car is even trickier to drive on hills
Easier to RepairOften, manual transmissions are not offered on premium vehicles.
Automatic Car ProsAutomatic Car Cons
Automatic cars are easier to drive in high traffic conditions. Automatic cars cost more to purchase
Automatic transmissions make cars a lot easier to drive for new driversAs automatic transmissions are more complicated than manual ones, they are also costlier to repair.
A dual-clutch transmission can shift very quickly, which makes the car perform better. Automatic cars are not as involving to drive a manual car but this is something that’s quite subjective.
In most cases, automatic transmission offers a smoother driveAn automatic car might not be as fuel-efficient as its manual counterpart though this is something that is fast being taken care of with the advancements in technology.
One can still shift gears manually if the automatic transmission offers the manual shifting option.  

Finally, coming to the conclusion, whether you should buy a manual transmission or an automatic transmission car is something you need to decide based on your driving conditions. That said, we’re sure that the above guide will help you choose better. In a nutshell, a manual transmission car makes more sense if you’re looking for a lower sticker price, easy maintenance and a more involving driving experience. On the other hand, an automatic transmission car is always easier to use in heavy traffic conditions and reduces driver fatigue to a large extent. Also, new-age dual clutch transmissions make a car quicker than the manual counterparts and so, if you’re someone looking for all-out performance, you know which one to pick between a manual and a DCT automatic option. Finally, automatic cars also offer a smoother drive.

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