General Buying Information

Automatic Cars Vs. Manual Cars


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A prospective car buyer often has to choose between a manual transmission and an automatic transmission-so it pays to know how automatic cars differ from those with a manual transmission.

First, many experts agree that a manual transmission is on average cheaper to fix than its automatic counterpart, although the clutch is an additional part that can be burned out easily if not used properly. Also, manual transmissions tend to offer slightly faster acceleration and better fuel economy.

Some drivers like the fact that a manual transmission allows the driver to "coast" a vehicle, making stop and go traffic a lot easier on the transmission. With large or small automatic cars, there can also sometimes be a pronounced clunkiness that can be annoying.

On the other hand, a manual is not desirable to some drivers because of the additional skill required to drive it. A manual transmission may not be a good choice for a new driver because of issues like hill starting (an automatic car starts just fine from a stopped position on an incline, whereas a manual car can tend to roll back if the driver does not have expertise in correct clutch use). If a new vehicle is going to be a family car, there is a good chance that one of the multiple drivers may have issues with routinely driving a manual transmission vehicle.

Apart from these issues, the choice between a manual versus automatic transmission often comes down to preference. Buyers can often get either option in a new vehicle, but when buying used vehicles, the options are limited to what is available. Some used cars are promoted based on high-tech CVT, or continuous variable transmission, technology, where more flexibility (in the words of some, "an infinite number of gears") makes the shifting smoother and less noticeable than in a fixed gear automatic.

So, know what you want when going to the lot, but think about whether being dedicated to one type of transmission or the other is worth the price difference you may encounter.

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