Automatic vs Manual Car Transmission: Which is Better?

It's a good one for debate, but seriously, which one is better, automatic or manual? To help you out, we've narrowed it down by looking at the differences between the two so you can decide for yourself which is best.

To us, Brits driving a manual transmission is considered to be the norm, but before you go choosing your next car, it might be worth considering whether or not you’d be better off with a manual or whether the perks of driving an automation transmission would be better. To help you decide whether you should ditch the gear stick, we’ve listed some of the pros and cons of driving both a manual and an automatic. It’s a tough decision as well as an important one, as buying a new car is potentially one of the biggest purchases that you’ll have to make in life. It’s not an easy question to answer as everybody will have their own preferences, but we’ll give you the information to help you make the best choice.

What’s the difference between automatic and manual transmission?

In terms of getting from A to B, the question to ask yourself in terms of whether you wish to opt for an automatic or a manual is whether or not you want to allow the car to change gear or if you’d prefer to have control and do this yourself.

As you’re probably already aware, a manual transmission has a gear system, which requires you to press down on the clutch pedal and move the gear stick in order to change gear. On a typical manual gear stick, there are five or six gears, plus reverse.

On the other hand, an automatic transmission is very generous in that it changes to gear for you based on the speed that you’re travelling at and doesn’t have a clutch pedal. The typical automatic transmission tends to have four modes; park, reverse, neutral and drive. You may already be aware of this, but there are numerous different types of automatic transmission, but we’re just going to focus on weighing up the pros and cons of a traditional automatic gearbox.

Automatic transmission


  • Easier to drive: with no need to press on the clutch, a lot of people consider an automatic transmission to be a lot easier given that they supposedly take drivers less time to learn and you’re unable to stall it.
  • Better in rush hour: when stuck in slow-moving or stop-start traffic, an automatic transmission is considered to be smoother, which means a more relaxed and pleasant drive as less effort is required in terms of the clutch pedal.
  • Less restrictive: learner drivers are often taught to drive with both hands on the wheel as this is the safest. By not having to manually change gears, an automatic transmission allows for drivers to fully concentrate on the road ahead and deal with the traffic safely.


  • More expensive to drive: whether they’re second-hand or not, automatic transmissions are often considered to be more expensive to buy and more expensive to have repaired if something goes wrong.
  • It’s important to note that if you pass your driving test with an automatic transmission, then you’ll have to retake your driving test if you then wish to also drive a manual transmission.

Manual transmission


  • More control: if you’re looking to shift gear quickly, that’s no problem. You’ll have more control over the car with a manual transmission as you have the power to choose which gear and if you need that extra boost.
  • Less expensive: you may not think it, but a manual transmission can be less expensive to purchase, which is great if you’re on a budget. They can also be cheaper to maintain than an automatic as they are more common and have less of a fancy design.
  • More fuel-efficient: with less complex engines, manual transmissions allow you to get more out of the petrol compared to an automatic, essentially saving you money on your fuel costs.


  • Difficult coordination; for some, mastering the movement of the hand-foot coordination needed in order to drive a manual can prove to be a little challenging.
  • Leg ache: if you’re stuck in stop-start traffic then the constant work of the clutch can slowly become a pain if your left foot doesn’t get a chance to rest, which could lead to some aches and pains in your leg muscles.

If you find that your transmission has just packed up and the cost to have it repaired just isn’t worth it, you can still sell your vehicle to us. We’ll take your vehicle off your hands for you regardless of its transmission issues, so don’t give up and find out the value of your vehicle today.

Sell your car with jamjar - Get instant offers now.



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