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Car Buying

Why You Should Consider a Manual Transmission

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author photo by Josh Sadlier May 2014

For many car shoppers, a manual transmission is a deal breaker. When you see that a potential purchase has a stick shift, you think, "Forget it, I need an automatic!" But whether you know how to drive a stick or not, you could really be missing out by opting for the auto. Here are three reasons why you should consider a manual shifter in your next ride.

They're Cheaper

There are two principal ways in which a manual transmission will keep extra dollars in your wallet.

First, when you're looking at the initial purchase price, a manual-transmission car is almost always cheaper than an automatic. A notable exception among automakers is BMW, which typically allows buyers to choose between a manual and an automatic for the same cost. But in general, opting for the automatic will dock you an extra $1,000 or so up front. That's a significant sum, particularly if you're shopping toward the more affordable end of the spectrum.

Second, when an automatic transmission starts having issues, expensive repairs are almost a foregone conclusion. But if you're having problems shifting your manual transmission, chances are it's the much cheaper clutch that's acting up, not the transmission itself. When you buy a manual-transmission car, you can expect to replace the clutch at least once while you own the car, and perhaps twice if you keep it for a long time. Compared to repairing or replacing an entire automatic transmission, however, the costs involved here are generally minuscule. So if you're looking to run a car on the cheap, a stick-shift specimen could save you some serious dough over the course of its operational life.

They're More Engaging

When you're driving a car with a manual transmission, there's no choice but to be centrally involved in the driving process. You're always thinking about what gear you need to be in: first for takeoffs, maybe fourth for cruising around town, fifth or sixth for the highway ... you get the idea. The point is, since you're the one making the final decisions, a stick shift constantly demands your attention, and that means you're always paying attention to current traffic conditions. There's something inherently engaging about this process, and it helps ensure that stick-shift drivers never lose sight of the mission at hand.

They May Do a Better Job

It's a historical fact that manual transmissions tend to accelerate more quickly and get better fuel economy than automatics. Over the past few years, however, this conventional wisdom has hit a snag. Automatics are becoming more and more efficient, while the lack of demand for manual transmissions has stunted their growth as a species. It's not unusual these days to find an automatic version of a car that actually accelerates quicker and uses less fuel than its stick-shift counterpart. Nonetheless, you can still find plenty of cars that are still at their best with a manual transmission. It's something to think about, particularly if price is a major factor.

AutoTrader Says

A manual transmission isn't for everyone, but it's no wonder that most cars around the world still employ one. If you're looking to operate your next ride on a tight budget, give the stick-shift option a try.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Why You Should Consider a Manual Transmission - Autotrader