Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Do you have fuel economy in mind? If so, you’re probably wondering whether or not you should get a vehicle with a manual transmission.
After all, stick shifts seem to have a gas-sipping reputation while their automatic counterparts guzzle fuel in the name of convenience.
But is this notion really true, or just an outdated concept with no merit?
Here, we explore whether or not automatic vehicles get better gas mileage, which type of transmission lasts longer, and the pros and cons of automatic transmissions.
Let’s dig in.
What Has Better Gas Mileage Automatic or Manual?
Do vehicles with manual transmissions really get better gas mileage? Yes and no. In the past, stick shifts definitely got better MPGs compared to their automatic counterparts.
This is because they operated much more efficiently than the automatics of the day.
Rather than simply locking your transmission into gear manually, automatics use fluid coupling that lets the transmission “slip” to prevent the engine from stalling at slow speeds. Unfortunately, this also allowed the transmission to slip at high speeds, which lowered the fuel economy.
Nowadays, however, nearly all automatics have a torque-converter lock-up which allows the transmission to lock into gear (and prevent slipping) at high speeds. The rise in popularity of this device has made it, so automatics and manuals now have similar fuel economy, so much so that they’re in a virtual tie when it comes to MPGs.
Ways to Save Gas Mileage in Automatic Vehicles
This is fantastic news if you have a newer automatic vehicle, but what about people who are still cruising around from automatics from the 90s? If this is you, here are a few tips to help you save on gas:
First and foremost, always make sure your tires are properly inflated and your foot is off the brake. This may sound like common sense, but these are two huge factors that can deplete your gas tank fast. Even the slightest pressure on your brake will create a drag that works against you, so make sure you keep your foot off the pedal until you actually have to brake.
Furthermore, try not to use your A/C unless it’s absolutely necessary. Your air conditioning uses additional fuel to keep things cool, and it can burn gas very quickly on hot days. If you can stand the heat, consider rolling those windows down and enjoy the breeze.
Lastly, drive calmly and with control. This will help you keep your momentum and avoid unnecessary braking. It will also prevent you from pressing the gas excessively, which will most definitely eat up more fuel than you’d like.
Pro Tip: Still prefer manual over automatic? We uncovered Are Manual Transmission Trucks Still Made?
Do Automatic Transmissions Last Longer?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors. In general, manual transmissions tend to last longer than automatic transmissions.
Again, this is because of their ability to shift and lock into gear coupled with the driver’s control. Nevertheless, a vehicle’s longevity is also dependent on the owner’s driving style and how new it is.
For example, if a driver is hard on the clutch, the transmission (and the clutch, for that matter) simply won’t last as long. Moreover, automatic transmissions are becoming more efficient with each passing year. With efficiency comes increased longevity.
What Are the Benefits of Automatic Vehicles?
Automatic vehicles have many advantages over manuals. For one, they’re much easier to drive. You don’t have to think about holding down the clutch when you stop or shift gears. It’s all done for you.
Some would say they’re safer as well, especially for new drivers. Most driving instructors will tell you to keep two hands on the wheel at all times, but this is virtually impossible with stick shifts.
There’s also much more room for human error with manuals. Have you ever stopped on a steep incline with a car close behind you? If this question doesn’t give you instant anxiety, you probably were in an automatic.
And, let’s be real, the technology built into today’s automatic vehicles likely outperforms manual vehicles on a regular basis.
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What Is the Disadvantage of Automatic Transmission?
Like anything, automatics aren’t perfect. To increase the ease and drivability, sacrifices sometimes need to be made. For example, automatic transmissions are much more complex compared to manual transmissions.
There are more moving parts, and because of this, more opportunities for something to go wrong. Moreover, they tend to be more expensive to maintain. Mechanics usually spend more time working on them because of their complexity and computerized systems. Not a great attribute if you’re looking for simplicity and affordability.
Additionally, many people consider the ability to drive a stick shift an advantage in itself. And even if you’ve driven a vehicle with a manual transmission, years of only driving automatics will make you a bit rusty. In many places, it’s seen as a badge of honor to drive a manual because you can literally operate any vehicle on the market.
In Australia, they require you to have this ability before getting your license!
On Modern Vehicles, Automatic Transmissions are Great
In conclusion, newer automatic transmissions are pretty amazing. They’ve come a long way in the past 50 years. Because of advancements in technology and a focus on efficiency, they easily rival their stick-shift counterparts in fuel economy and longevity.
Of course, automatic transmissions will always be a bit more complex than manuals. They’re not relying on the driver to shift gears. But in general, choosing a car with an automatic transmission is an easy decision for many (except those die-hard stick-shift drivers).
What do you prefer, a manual or an automatic? Let us know in the comments below!
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