20 Reasons We Should All Drive Manual Transmission Cars

Driving a manual car might not be as common anymore in the U.S., but you’ll gain better fuel economy, more horsepower, a level of anti-theft protection, and respect by driving a manual transmission vehicle.

Just a few short decades ago, most cars were manuals. That’s why manuals are often referred to as standards — because they came standard on most cars. But today, most people — namely Americans — enjoy texting and nom-nomming Big Macs too much to be bothered with shifting gears.

When I was searching for my most recent car, it took a while to find one with a manual tranny. But I wouldn’t drive anything else. Everyone kept pestering me to just buy an automatic, but I had so many reasons not to do that.

Why You Should Drive a Manual Car

Here is the list of reasons I shared whenever someone told me to give up my search for a stick shift and settle for an automatic. Since it took me a while to find a car, I had time to build my defense. I believe this is the most comprehensive post online singing the praises of a manual transmission.

1) So You Know How to Do It Abroad

If you’re reading this and you’re in North America, driving a manual car is far from the norm. According to CNN, only 4% of new cars sold in America are manual. But, in most countries, a manual is pretty standard. Abroad, you’ll be laughed at if you’re a grown adult and can’t work a clutch.

Luckily, driving a manual car is the same no matter where you are on on the planet; the driving configuration is the same everywhere. Even if the car is right-hand drive, the gearbox and pedal setup are the same. The only change is that you’re on the opposite side of the car. So, while pulling through a KFC drive-thru to get your greasy chicken bucket may be awkward, shifting gears isn’t hard to get used to from country to country. Plus, if you ever run The Amazing Race, you’ll be prepared. No losing $1 million bucks just because you couldn’t get into gear like this team.

2) Better Fuel Economy

You generally get better miles per gallon simply by driving a stick. The transmission weighs less (weight savings = fuel savings), you go into neutral between shifts (which drops fuel consumption), and you can coast to stops. My Mitsubishi Eclipse gets five miles per gallon more than the automatic version. That results in 19% better fuel economy just for enjoying my manual transmission. Compare your make and model’s manual versus automatic transmission by using this side-by-side vehicle comparison tool.

You may also be interested in our article: Does running high octane fuel really help? as well as Does an HHO kit really work? (it supposedly bumps up your fuel economy on your car and bike).

3) The Self-Starting Car

Have a weak battery and don’t want to replace it quite yet? Are you out in the woods and there’s no one to jumpstart you? No problem! With a manual car, you don’t need to rely as heavily on the battery. Simply give the car a rolling start. Once you’re moving, put the car in gear and release the clutch. Kablamo, your car runs! Just remember to park on top of a hill if this becomes a habit.

P.S. This will get old quickly, so I suggest you buy a new battery. They are pretty cheap. Costco batteries have high ratings and a phenomenal return policy. Don’t have a Costco membership? Learn more in our article: Costco Membership Fee: Worth It? When Would You Break Even?

4) Keeps You Safe and Alive

Having a manual car forces you to pay attention when you’re driving. You can’t be texting or eating Big Macs while driving around town. I know we all say we won’t text and drive but having a manual car forces you to keep your word. If you’re a parent, consider getting your child a manual car so he or she is too consumed to text and drive.

Also, while driving a manual car, your feet and arms are constantly moving. This lowers your risk of developing blood clots and dying. Okay, that’s a little extreme. But, honestly, it’s good to keep your limbs from going limp. And blood clots do happen to older people when they sit idly for long periods of time.

5) Cheaper to Buy New or Used

We all know most people love paying for convenience. This means people will pay out the nose for an automatic. And manual transmissions cost less to build, as well. Luckily, both of these reasons makes manuals cheaper in both new and used car markets. You can save thousands just by choosing a manual gearbox.

6) Cheaper to Maintain

A manual transmission not only takes less fluid, it also doesn’t require an expensive gasket and oil filter kit like an automatic tranny does. This is a big win-win as tranny fluid can be expensive. The fluid for my car was $12/quart (after price comparison, of course). And my car needs six quarts!

It’s also easier to replace the fluid in a manual tranny. All you do is pull a plug to drain it. With automatic transmissions, you have to undo about a million little bolts, then awkwardly drop the oil pan and filter while trying not to spill hot oil on yourself. And, if you don’t change the oil yourself, the shop will likely charge you more when working on an automatic versus a manual.

7) Repairs Are Cheaper — and Easier to Fix Yourself

A manual transmission is cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain, and cheaper to fix! I can pull the manual transmission out of my car in an afternoon. I can’t say that about an automatic. Also, a replacement transmission, if needed, will be way less. Further, repairing an automatic transmission is pretty far out of the shade-tree mechanic’s wheelhouse. But a manual tranny is simpler to repair (though still a big endeavor).

8) More Power

With an automatic, there’s a huge drivetrain loss. So, while the powerplant may be the same between a manual and automatic, a manual will give more power to the wheels. By driving a manual, the “15% rule” is usually used: A manual will allow for 15% more horsepower than an automatic. And if you want to modify your car to go faster, it’s much more cost-effective to buy a manual. Think about it for a second: If you try to beef up an auto, it’ll take a lot of money just to get it up to the power of the manual that you could’ve bought in the first place.

9) Thieves Get Confused

Because manuals aren’t as common in the U.S. anymore, young thieves don’t know how to drive a stick shift. Heck, most people in America don’t know how to drive a manual car. This means thieves will leave your car alone and move on to the next one. Or they will try to drive your car, fail, and run away scared and confused.

10) Sticks are Cool

Driving a stick shift is cool! Some people use techniques such as “heel-toeing” and really make shifting an art. Please note that heel-toeing isn’t the safest thing to do on public roads if you’re not skilled at it, but it’s not illegal. Meanwhile, anyone can drive an automatic. Funny enough, in Britain, the majority of automatic drivers are disabled or elderly.

11) More Fun to Drive

Something about rowing through the gears is fun for most people. I don’t know why exactly. Man/woman and machine working in harmony, I guess. If you want to, drifting your car is also so much easier. By increasing power, reducing weight, and having the ability to select the gear instead of relyig on a computer, it is a lot more fun to drive.

12) No One Asks to Borrow Your Car

Remember what I said about thieves not knowing how to drive a manual car? Neither do your friends. If your friend asks to borrow your car, you don’t have to say “no”; just politely remind him that it’s a manual. I used this trick just a few weeks ago.

13) Engine Braking

If you need to stop quickly, you can downshift while hitting the brakes. This will slow you down much faster than just stepping on the brakes like in an auto. That’s because you’re able to use the engine and the brakes to stop the car.

14) Learning a Lifelong Skill

Some people take great pride in driving a manual. After all, it is a skill. Anytime I can add a skill to my portfolio, it’s a good day. Even if you don’t want to drive a stick every day, I encourage you to learn. You never know when it might come in handy.

15) Longer Transmission Life

Generally speaking, the life of a manual transmission is greater than that of an auto. Most autos seem to go out before 200k.

Plus, on a manual, if the transmission starts getting weak, it usually shows signs well before it’s time to replace it. In an automatic, the transmission just starts to slip and you’re in trouble. My brother’s manual transmission in his Mitsubishi 3000GT has been on its way out for the past five years. If he had an automatic, he would have probably had to buy a new transmission by now.

16) Safer, Less Stressful Mountain Driving

When you drive an automatic through the mountains, the car has a hard time understanding which gear is appropriate.

Here’s how my mountain driving goes in an automatic (this is me talking to the car): “You’re failing at life, auto transmission. You don’t know when to shift! You don’t have eyes! You just up-shifted and there’s a big climb ahead. What now, gearbox? You’re torturing yourself! Now it’s time to downshift … again! Don’t overheat on me, tranny!”

Even with the “overdrive off” button (which most automatics have for this very reason), your auto still puzzles itself trying to guess the appropriate low gear. In a manual car, you can see what’s down the road and shift accordingly. When an auto shifts up and down over and over, it’s decreasing its life. It’s slowly killing itself. That’s sad for everyone.

Plus, engine braking is really helpful when descending a mountain. Overheating your brakes in an auto is dangerous and expensive. With a manual, you can easily let the engine help with some of the braking. A manual means you don’t have to replace your brake pads and rotors as often (more maintenance savings).

17) No Computer Telling You It Knows Better

I used to drive my parents’ Oldsmobile Ninety Eight. A lot of speed limits around my town are 45 mph. The car was automatic and it shifted into top gear at 46 mph. So, either I could speed or I could force a downshift by driving 45 mph and burn a lot of fuel being on the top of the rev limit. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it got really annoying.

18) Instant Respect

When you take your car to the shop, the employees will know you sought out a manual. It shows you care about what you drive. They will likely have more respect for you and for the car. Also, the inexperienced mechanics who can’t drive a stick probably won’t be working on your car. Meaning, the older generation, manual veterans will be looking after your vehicle.

19) No Falling Asleep at the Wheel

After you drive a stick for a while, it’s just as easy as an automatic. But it still requires movement. Therefore, it’s harder to fall asleep while driving.

20) A Lesson in Patience

Driving a stick teaches you patience. Since they are less common, you have to spend more time looking for one when buying. I looked at probably 100 Eclipses online before I found my perfect manual. So, of course, I knew the market up, down, left, and right! This allowed me to get a great price. If you need a car ASAP, look for one that is readily available in a manual. Think 1990s economy car like a Honda Civic; those are great.

In Summary

To be fair, I wanted to compile a list of why automatic transmissions might be better. But all I could think of is that an automatic is the easier alternative.

Read to learn how to drive a manual car? Find out how in our article: How to Drive a Manual Transmission Car

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  • Just got my golf 7, and of course its a GTI Manual. Never been happy, remembering happy days again when I started learning how to drive. Although we have an auto car for driving to work every day, which most of the time its my wife whos driving, Im always looking forward for the weekend to spend time with my mano_o_mano car (Local term for Manual Car in my country). And of course its priceless. Driving a manual car has an exact definition of “Fully Driving” the car, not partially driving (cause half of the effort was done by the auto trans)

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      I’ve never driven a Golf but I hear they are really good cars. I understand what you mean about only partially driving when you’re driving (steering) an automatic. There’s a definite disconnect between man and machine. I’m glad you’re enjoying the Golf!

  • Shantanu Sinha says:

    Hey Will
    Nice article on manual transmission cars.
    I would really preffer driving the stick on your very own.
    Rather than automatic transmission.

    Here in India, we are doing it from really long. Yeah automatic transmission no doubt makes your
    ride smoother and smarter but if you really want to explore, I would really go for driving the stick.

    Thank you so much for sharing this one 🙂

    Shantanu sinha

  • I knew manual transmissions were becoming rare in North America, but I didn’t realize just how rare until I found myself in the market for a new car last year. There are now several makes that do not offer a manual option at all!

    I chose a VW GTI with 6-speed manual, and have been most pleased with it. The “fun factor” of this car would have taken a huge hit with an automatic. Now, granted, the automatic offered is one of the new dual clutch automatics, which are essentially manual transmissions that are electronically operated. A lot of the old advantages to a manual no longer apply when compared with the new breed of automatics, but I have been told one should prepare for sticker shock the first time they have to perform a fluid change on one of those new dual clutch automatics.

    I just think one should always strive to develop and maintain skills rather than be completely dependent on something doing the thinking for you. A calculator is great to have, but you should still know how to do the math on paper!

  • Haha, I find this post hilarious! I’m in New Zealand where manuals are the norm. My Dad refused to let me learn to drive an automatic because it’s ‘lazy’ but I’m glad I know how to drive a manual as I can drive anything, anywhere in the world. I visited the US last year and rented a Dodge – it was so strange just sitting there with one foot on the pedal and one hand on the steering wheel, almost relaxing.

  • Janet Fazio says:

    I so love this post. I am one of the few people I know who owns a manual shift car. I won’t date someone who can’t.

    • I’m a delivery guy driving around the city all day and I hate the manual I have to drive. I shift up and down between 1, 2 and 3 thousands times a day and it’s just bloody annoying even though I learned driving in a manual.
      Ah well, it has made me appreciate the auto I’m driving in my spare time.

  • Sophia Borree says:

    Hey Will,
    Great post on manual transmission cars. I will be honest… I don’t have a manual 🙁 . But I am planing to buy.

  • Came here after being bemused at the idea that the majority of America drives automatic. Here in the UK manual cars are (as you rightly mention) the norm. If you learn to drive on an automatic here, you only get an automatic endorsed license, you’d have to take another test if you wanted to drive manual. For me, driving a manual is YOU driving the car, you control the gear change meaning you can either get more speed or more fuel economy out of your car. Sounds like you’d be OK over here Will, except for the fact we drive on the left – contrary to what most other countries do. We do enjoy being a little awkward…

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Whoa, didn’t know that about licensing!

      I would enjoy the UK – I’ve just got to get over there one of these days. I’m a huge Top Gear fan.

    • It’s the same in New Zealand, an automatic endorsement is basically a licence that you’d be embarrassed to admit you have 🙂

      • William Lipovsky says:
        First Quarter Finance logostaff

        Ha, that’s hilarious. Wish we could get that stigma going over here in the US! With eco cars becoming more popular in the States, manuals are making a small resurgence. That’s refreshing to see.

        • hahaha! I really like the post Will! I own a 98 Honda Civic with 229k miles on it… man that transmission is still running strong and the engine just feels alive! I love to save money while driving, while braking and while being more focused on the road! Automatic transmission vehicles are ok… but they command you. When you drive a manual car… YOU tell the car what to do and that’s fun… I like to be in control of the throttle body…

  • I drive a manual sports car now and it is much more fun than my old automatic car. My friends are all in love with it and want to drive it, but are sorely disappointed when I tell them it’s a stick. Everyone assumes because I am a woman that it isn’t my car because it’s a manual, well it is!

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      I bought my last car from a 52-year-old lady. She rocked that stick shift. Good on you for being cooler than your friends! :p

  • Jack Mor says:

    Wow, I had never thought about thieves. I can just imagine someone smashing the window, climbing in, reaching for the stick-shift, and realizing that they have no idea what they’re doing and leaving. I’ll have to look into getting a stick, they do seem a lot more fun. And I’m a fan of not dying.

  • Jason Strong says:

    My little brother was driving my care the other day and he did something to the clutch. Usually I can figure this kind of stuff out on my own, but for whatever reason I can’t. If anyone has any suggestions of things that I can look into to figure this out, I would really appreciate it.

  • Audrey Blakeney says:

    I’ve been driving for over 15 years, and I can honestly say that I never knew an automatic transmission weighed more than a manual. It is logical, however, since the parts that would change gears for your are not in the manual one. I am looking to buy a new car soon, and I was thinking of buying an automatic, even though it is more expensive, but now I see that a manual is less expensive initially as well as continually with regards to fuel and mileage. From a seasoned but I guess still newbie driver, thank you for this advice on saving money.

  • Correy Smith says:

    What would be the difference in transmissions when it comes to comparing automatic and manual cars? It’s something that I’m trying to find out after my friend gave me a manual car of his that needed some transmission repairs to do. I’ve become accustomed to repairing automatic vehicles for far too long.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Check the clutch master cylinder and the slave cylinder for proper function if you’re having any issues. Make sure the clutch fluid is clear. If there’s a whirring noise coming from the transmission, it’s probably a bad throw-out bearing. If the car is old, make sure the clutch adjustment is good. Newer cars have automatic adjusting clutches (I’d say mid 90’s – on). Manuals are easy to main/fairly easy to repair (unless you crack into the transmission itself – you may just be better off getting a new/used one).

  • Emily Smith says:

    Will, I had no idea that manual transmissions were cheaper than automatic transmissions. I have been trying to decide between buy an automatic or a manual car. The fact that it is cheaper and is cheaper to fix things like the transmission is really nice. Maybe I will go with a manual car.
    Emily Smith

  • Gerald Vonberger says:

    I hadn’t thought of a lot of these benefits of having a manual car. I had one for about 8 years and it was great. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that the transmission repairs are much cheaper than those of an automatic are. Upon further reflection, I can see that you’re probably right. I also enjoyed reason number 4. If not dying isn’t a motivation, I don’t know what is. Thanks for the entertaining and informative article!

  • One big reason not to:
    Manual cars are burdensome and painful to drive in stop and go traffic. When I used to have a long commute I longed for the day I could trade in my stick shift for an automatic.

  • Im american, I have 3 manual cars, and I drive in traffic. Hows that!

    The “I cant have an automatic because im in traffic” statement will never cease to make me laugh. Driving a manual is like walking. Do you ever think about putting your feet ahead of you to walk? Lol. Drive a manual long enough and it DOES become 2nd nature. I never even think twice about having to push the clutch and shift gears….it just instantly happens.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Awesome reply! Humans are easily able to adapt and get in routines. It seems the only people fearful of manuals are those who haven’t really given them a chance.

      • Totally true. Most people look at it and think instant hassle. I admit some newer slop-o-matics are a tiny hair faster than a proper manual but so what? The manual makes the car person feel united with their machine. Because for us its not a tool for getting from point A to B. Every drive is a unique and enjoyful experience. We are the type to turn off the computer assistance, the traction control, etc and grab that manual knob and shift.

  • Randolph Hoover says:

    Great post Will! I just ran out of reasons why manual cars are much better than automatic cars when I was having a conversation with my brother last night. Manual will always be more awesome than automatic. Just because of the natural feeling when it comes to shifting gears. That’s why manual models will always be better than automatic.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      It feels fantastic to me as well. I wanted to leave opinions out or else I would have raved emphatically about the amazing feeling of rowing through a gearbox while canyon carving.

  • Hey ! Im only a 16 year old girl and am from Australia…couldn’t agree more, i love driving manual and practically everyone in Australia knows how to drive one as there quite common here 🙂

  • I just took the dive and bought a manual transmission MR2 Spyder. I was nervous and intimidated when I took possession of it. It seemed so daunting and complicated. But I read the manual, had watched a lot of tutorials on Youtube, and already knew a good bit about auto mechanics and auto racing.

    I stalled it a lot at first. But today was only my 2nd full day driving it and it’s honestly so much easier than I thought it would be. I still have a long way to go. I’m far from comfortable or smooth in it. But I’ve kind of surprised myself how easily and quickly I’ve progressed.

  • im 37 years old, when I was 17 i bought my first manual and have never looked back. every vehicle ive owned since then has been a manual. ive had manual sports cars, manual trucks, a manual jeep. people who don’t like driving manuals are just in my opinion too busy or something. perhaps the reason I like manuals is because when Im driving….. Im DRIVING!!!! Im not texting, tweeting, facebooking, snap chatting, eating, or putting on makeup…. Im DRIVING and nothing is more fun then driving a manual transmission. It forces you to become aware of the driving situation around you. you have to think about driving. Theres really no way to explain it. you either get it or you don’t…. if you dont you should! I cant stop laughing at the lady who said they were more dangerous or the guy who said they were more expensive!! HILARIOUS!!! Long live the manuals and those man enough to drive them! I will out drive you and your auto any day of the week and get better milage while doing it! autos are for lazy people! put down the egg mcmuffin and your cell phone and enjoy the ride!

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Loved this, man. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

      I considered buying a RHD car recently (I’m in the US so it would be hella different). Someone tried to talk me out of it on the grounds of, “But how will you go through drive-thru’s?” I had to lol. I prefer not to eat when I drive.

  • Ged Ward says:

    Love your website man. Pretty cool. In the UK most cars used to be manual not auto years back before the new dual clutch sytem came in

  • My partner loves manuals but they are NOT for me! For the me the best thing about them is they’re easy to roll start if they break down – that’s about it, and was the only good thing about the manual Levin we once owned.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Man, it seems like everyone who hates manuals has had a bad experience. Maybe it’s because they last so long that most of them get demoted to beater status for years and years. But hey, nothing is for everyone! I ate 5 kiwifruit yesterday. Most people wouldn’t go for that. And yes, your name made me remember that fun fact! 🙂

  • Nice post Will! My first car was a manual transmission…a Chevy Beretta I nicknamed Ramon (roll the R on your tongue). Loved it…once I learned how to drive it. 🙂 I was “cured” of manual transmission cars though once I moved to the busy city of Atlanta for grad school. Working a manual in daily, crazy-slow traffic was not much fun.

  • Jason Vitug says:

    Probably the best list ever. You’re right stick shift cars get borrowed less often and never gets used on road trips. It’s usually 1 in 4 can drive a stick.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Learn it neow!

      Find someone IRL who can teach you. But for now here’s my lesson…

      start car with clutch in… shift in to first gear… let off clutch while giving the car some gas…. let off clutch completely and give it gas until you need another gear (usually around 15mph)… then clutch in, shift, clutch out… more gas… repeat.

  • I have had a few manual cars but probably will never own one again. Mainly because manuals in constant traffic sucks and secondly with manual cars i tend to speed much more lol.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Haha, glad I’m not the only one who sometimes pushes down on the gas as hard as the clutch!

  • My dad has always driven a manual. Once I got comfortable driving around normally, I begged him to teach me how to drive his car. I figured there was a slight chance of me being deserted one day with a manual car as my only option, so it was better to learn than not! I stalled out quite a few times but eventually got the hang of it. Unfortunately (mostly fortunately), they switched to a one-car household, and got rid of his car, so I can’t brush up on my skills. They are certainly a lot cheaper and more efficient, but it did kind of suck when stuck in traffic.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Good idea being prepared! You never know when the skill may come in hand.

      I went a year without driving a manual car once. It’s super easy to get back in the saddle.

      I’ve driven a manual in heavy traffic on occasion. I think the trick is to remember it’s all in your head… Moving up 10 feet every time you get a chance won’t help your situation. It’s why you see semi drivers being patient. They know getting into/out of gears every second, weaving into traffic doesn’t help getting through it any faster. But yeah, the left leg can still get a little tired. My left leg used to be so much stronger than my right, I used to walk in circles. Just joking… 😀 I suppose it can get to be a bit of a pain if you were dealing with jams every day.

  • Christine says:

    I actually prefer driving a manual car because when I drive an automatic, I am not as ‘engaged’ in the driving process. I like being able to slow down with a manual car etc.

    But in the end, Autos tend to be a LOT cheaper in NZ so I bought one of those. It’s probably a lot better for city driving as well.

    I’m happy I learned on a manual as it means I can confidently drive both types 🙂

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      That’s crazy autos are a lot cheaper! They cost so much more to produce! #whatthehecknewzealand

      lol but for real.

  • Rinoa Heartilly says:

    Great article! Manual is definitely the way to go. When I was looking for my current car I didn’t even consider automatics. I drive a euro sports car and think it is silly to get an auto if you are going to drive a fun car although would consider PDK on some of the newer cars when I eventually get one.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Thanks, Rinoa!!! Love your name, btw.

      So what kind of euro sports car do you drive?

  • Stefanie says:

    I have no idea how to drive a manual car. Thankfully, I live in NYC where I chose between biking, walking, and the train 🙂

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      I’m a bit jealous, Stephanie. I do bike everywhere in my city but I gots to have a car for those long travels back home! Eh, well!

  • Awesome! My wife and I love having standards. They are just fun! And better on fuel. Those are our main reasons, but these are all great! Interesting article idea too.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hey, Kalen! Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I just get real passionate for my love of a standard transmission. So many reasons for one. I just drove my standard 100 miles yesterday and it was so fun! Gotta love dropping a gear to pass another car. Makes me feel like Vin Diesel.

  • My boyfriend has been trying so hard to get me to learn manual. I tried once but never tried again. I did learn how to successfully drive a motorcycle though.

  • Clarisse says:

    My father told me before that everything that are manuals are fuel efficient either it is a motorcycle or a car. My in-laws just bought their new automatic car last June but he told us that he still preferred his old manual car.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Clarisse, welcome to FQF! 🙂

      Manuals are becoming a rare breed. But they are just so much more entertaining. I can see why someone would dislike making the switch.

  • Michelle says:

    I can remember trying to learn how to drive a manual car in a parking lot with my dad. It did not go too well. I also learned the hard way when looking for a car to purchase and it was a manual and having to walk out on a sale because I just knew that it would not work out for me.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Maybe try another lesson with someone other than your dad. I know my dad wasn’t the best teacher… LOL

  • As a woman in her twenties, you get some serious respect if you know how to drive a manual. I love when people assume that I can’t…and then I get to watch their faces when I start driving 🙂

  • I did not know it was cheaper to buy a manual car, nor did I know that the transmission lasts longer. I think I’m open to buying a manual car, but I would want a lot of practice before taking the leap since I’ve never owned one before.

  • Will! You forgot the biggest reason of them all!

    If you use a stick Europeans won’t mock you for driving an automatic! 😉

  • I’ve always wanted to learn how to drive a manual transmission. This is a nice set of reasons to learn!

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Do it! It’s so much fun! I’m sure there’s someone who would be glad to teach you!

  • Michelle says:

    I used to love driving a manual car, so much fun! Sadly I had to trade it in for auto because of the nasty traffic we have in Toronto. I lasted a year driving stick in traffic before I gave up. Now I’ve got tiptronic so I can still have a little fun but my foot always looks for the clutch! Lol!

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Haha, whenever I drive an auto my left foot mashes the left edge of the brake pedal when I go to start the car.

  • I drive a standard Mazda 2 – my green machine. I love it because it’s zippy and easy to park. I don’t think you mentioned that point – since most standards are small, a standard is easy to park. Being able to drive in Europe is a big one too. My daughter and SIL could not take their trip to the Juno beach in Normandy when on a day excursion off a cruise ship because the rental company did not have the automatic they reserved. They ended up sharing a car with another couple which was great, but that couple was American and were going to US landing beaches instead of Canadian ones. Of course the primary reason for me going with manual transmission was for the gas mileage!

  • Ok, you’ve sold me. My bf is OBSESSED with manual cars. He will NOT own an automatic. But I don’t know how to drive his car! I need to learn from someone else, though. Haha. He did know how to drive the rental car in Iceland.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Oh that’s great to hear, Melanie!!!

      Your BF sounds like a keeper! What kind of car does he drive?

    • Haha, there’s plenty of expensive cars with manual transmission in the UK. You sound like the kind wuss that couldn’t pass their test in a manual. Don’t worry nobody will laugh at you to your face! (As way of an explanation the govt in the UK consider people who can only drive auto as inferior. If you pass your driving test in an auto you’re only allowed to drive an auto, auto only drivers make up stupid excuses so they don’t look inadequate. This is not a reflection on Americans, we understand that finding a manual is much less common across the pond, they’re in the majority in the UK).

  • I’ve never driven an automatic car before but have been told they’re easier than manual. I’ll switch to auto when I retire I think! 🙂

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      I bow down to you! To experience an automatic tranny, just ride around in a bumper car. Same amount of skill required. ;p

  • Great points Will. It would be easier if more manual vehicles were available. The feel of the power in your hands makes for great driving. When I purchased my last vehicle unfortunately there were no manual ones to be found anywhere. I had to settle for an automatic 🙁

      • Tyler Wiedenfeld says:

        The Chevy Cruze Eco came with a 5 speed til 2011, and in 2012 got a 6. It’s a smaller car, but are sporty, and the 1.4 is a turbo motor. They also have a diesel model now, but I’m not sure they come in a stick if they have a diesel. There other motor is the 1.8, but it’s not as good as the 1.4, being as it doesn’t have a turbo, it doesn’t have good low rpm torque. Not that you’d really need torque in a small economy car.

        • William Lipovsky says:
          First Quarter Finance logostaff

          That 1.4 sounds like a great buy. It would be a shame if they didn’t make the diesel available with a manual. That would be high MPG heaven.

      • Mark Edward Weldon says:

        I’m British and have only had one automatic car. I learnt to drive in a manual and bought an automatic in a hurry. It was ok but it wasn’t really like driving. I’m back with a manual car now and I’m enjoying driving again. In Britain if you take your driving test in an automatic you’re not allowed to drive a manual.
        I disagree with the contributor who said most cars in the UK are now automatic. Here it’s mostly old and or disabled people who drive automatics. My wife hated the automatic and wouldn’t drive it unless she really had to. She joked about me being able to still drive a a “proper” car, but it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget.

  • Kassandra says:

    Does tiptronics count 😉 My DH is a big fan of the shift stick. I prefer automatic but would be willing to learn manual, just to say that I know how and if I ever needed to drive one.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      If you ever go abroad… or if there’s a zombie apocalypse and the only car you can commandeer is a stick. You can never be too prepared…!

  • I have to admit, Will: I was all prepared to counter you on this, but you’ve sold me!! Lots of good reasons here and I won’t turn my back so quickly on a manual next time we pick out a vehicle. I especially like #9. And you know what: I haven’t ever tried a Big Mac either!

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Ooooh cool! Especially since I didn’t intend the article to be persuasive. I just wanted to throw the facts out there.

      Since you’re out in the country, it’s especially easy to drive a manual. Far less shifting than in a city! Dang near as easy as an auto.

      You haven’t had a Big Mac?! We should start a club! But I don’t think we’re missing out on much: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbjxBNx1_Hg

  • I am not a fan of manual transmissions. Also, new automatics are more fuel efficient than manuals are, the systems are very dialed.
    I lost the battle on our last vehicle, though, so our car is a manual.
    They’re also more dangerous in traffic, due to the stalling and rolling back. There are some modern features, like a break hold delay, that help to improve some aspects of that, but they still pose that risk over an automatic.
    They are easier to give power, though. Most new automatics also have a “manual” override, where you can drop cars down into lower gears, which is useful for things like quickly merging onto an on ramp.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      You’re a fan of airplanes but despise a manual transmission?! I would think as a lover of machine you would enjoy being more involved during a drive!

      I have seen some new automatics which are comparable to manual tranny’s in terms of MPG only. However, those are so new and on such high-end vehicles, I don’t really recommend anyone seek them out.

      More dangerous in traffic.. Hmm.. I suppose if you don’t pay attention you could roll back into someone. But if a person can’t pay enough attention not to do that, they probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel in the first place.

      Most automatics with ‘manual’ modes are just for giggles. My last rental car had one. It did make me feel slightly cooler..

      Anyway, at the end of the day, to each their own!

      • More dangerous….Really? How is that? If you are rolling back it means that you cannot drive…I had a auto with same manners you know BMW smg tranny its an automatic that acts like a manual where if you don’t hold a brake it will go backwards, but think about this you are saying going backward that’s only if you don’t hold a brake…however what happens to automatic if you don’t hold a brake? It goes forward right? What’s the difference….so they’re both unsafe whether i roll backward or go forward makes no difference LOL!

        • William Lipovsky says:
          First Quarter Finance logostaff

          Haha, Izet, they keep lobbing ’em up and we keep knockin’ ’em out of the park!

          Many modern manual cars also have hill brake assist as well. So you won’t roll back even if you aren’t paying attention.

    • Matthew M Snyder says:

      Dangerous in traffic? Yes, this may be true for newbies at stick. But once you’ve gotten pat the first month or two driving stick you’ll rarley if not ever stall anymore. I tend to stall 3 or 4 times a year.Its always when im tired and not completely focused on the clutch to gas ratio. Other then that stick is so much safer if it werent for stick I would have probably rear ended people a few times because of quick braking in their small cars. See I drive a Jeep Wrangler which normally can’t stop nearly as fast as the little cars, but because of my ability to downshift and engine brake I have never gotten in an accident in my 8 years of driving.

  • I’m sorry but I will never get a manual car. It’s just too damn annoying. Most of my driving is done in the city and having to shift up and down ALL DAY LONG is insane. I rather just put it on D and go. True, it gives you better gas mileage and they are cheaper, but I don’t think they’re necessarily safer nor do I think people who drive them save on gas. People with manual transmissions tend to speed all the time, which is unsafe and waste gas. They’re always looking for that gap where they could shift and pass the person in front of them. If you’re not one of those people then you are in the minority.

    It is also not easier or safer to drive them on the mountains. I drove a manual transmission in Costa Rica and got stuck behind a truck on a no passing zone and was also confused on which gear I should be on. I rather just press the gas and go. Also it’s very challenging to start the car going up hill. It’s like a puzzle. Hold the emergency break, put it in gear, give it some gas, slowly engage the clutch, release the emergency break, now you can go. With an automatic is just put it on Drive and go. It also stalls if you’re not paying attention. It’s just a big hassle.

    To me a car is just a means of transportation, something to get me from point A to point B. If I could get a car that could drive me to where I needed to go without me having to do anything at all, that would be ideal. I’m not lazy, I just rather be holding my girl’s hand than a stick… but that’s just me.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hey Aldo, thanks for the reply. I like some disagreement!

      Sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences driving a stick. It’s a learned skill, that’s for sure. But it becomes second-nature after awhile.

      I hear you about holding your girls hand instead of a shift knob but I think any girl I date can hold off while we’re going through traffic.

      • Hahah sorry Aldo, but you’re insane with this post. There is nothing better then driving a manual and i can confirm out of 24 cars that i changed only 3 were automatic :). I also traveled thru out U.S and Canada…I drove from Chicago to Indy with a bad clutch once! Yes i forced into a gear and made it home…would automatic get me there? I highly doubt it! Would automatic start from 0mph in 4th gear yes slowly until reaching speed…I freaking doubt it! Driving a manual is like riding a bike. Yes i am from S.E Europe and been around them for 13 years before coming here, but that’s not the point. Lets talk about holding a girls hand lol I had no problem holding girls hang while shifting or anything for that matter, you know you can also shift without pressing a clutch its all the matter of timing and listening to your engine…I spent a lot of time driving and honestly automatics made me fall asleep not to mention loosing a tranny in the middle of the road that happened couple of times they just go bad on the spot!! I told you a clutch story, now let me also tell you a starter story….when a starter goes bad push the car pop the clutch and VOILA! While on auto all you can do is try to hit it with a hammer 😀 if its totally bad then call a towing buddy :).

      • Daniel Kaupang says:

        Fantastic article, Will! As an European, I find it very strange that Americans don’t learn driving manuals before switching over to automatics. Driving a manual is so much fun and I feel like I’m driving the car instead of the car driving me. I actually started learning driving with an automatic when I was 16 and I couldn’t imagine myself driving a manual car EVER back then. I imagine that’s how Americans think when they start learning with an automatic. After mastering the skill of driving a manual, I can’t imagine myself owning an automatic any time soon.

        The reason why luxury car manufacturers have stop producing cars with a manual transmission is because people prefer standing out in the crowd and feel more superior then actually having fun. Audi recently announced that they will stop producing the R8 with a manual which is such a shame.

        The demand for manuals is still super high here in Europe, so i doubt that they will become instinct 🙂 And let’s hope that articles like these will make a difference in the US and will encourage Americans to give the manual “stick-shift” a try. Thank you for writing this article!

        • Anthony Keaveny says:

          I tried to teach my mother to drive a manual car !! End of that story. Cheap is Cheap and now in my country England, only cheap little cars come with manual. I live across from a school and look at the mums in the Range Rovers, Jags, Mercedes…none of them could drive a shift.. They are for poor people.

          • Anthony Keaveny says:

            BUT I did make my 2 sons learn to shift. We had a little Bedford Van, and I took them every Sunday to an industrial Estate and made Garry, 13 and Mark 15 Learn to drive a manual. Now, of course they drive automatics, but they CAN drive a shift!>>>

  • Hey Will,

    Great post on manual transmission cars. I will be honest… I don’t have a manual, but both my wife and I are interested in learning how to drive one, but our parents never had manuals around. So I guess when the old car dies we can revisit this desire and force ourselves to learn by buying it!

    • You should definitely try a manual, Kipp! They’re not hard to drive at all and I find they keep me more focussed on the road.

    • Nick OnGoogle says:

      I’m at a point where I have to decide whether I can bear to drive an auto – and I’ve driven many of them.
      I thought ‘Why not hire one to see how I feel about them these days’ … but I know in my heart what the answer will be.
      What I like about a manual is that the speed of your driving wheels is locked to the speed of the engine.
      Take your foot off, you slow down.
      Put it down, you speed up – no wishy-whooshy, vague and slow response.
      Auto’s are for those who get relatively little out of driving – who don’t really want to be fully involved with the process – who don’t appreciate the impact that attitude has on vehicle behaviour (forward and rearward weight-shift, etc) … all of which go to make up the rewarding experience that is the full control you get in a manual car.
      Auto/manual preference is what really tells you whether someone’s a driver or merely a passenger in the driver’s seat.

      • What kind of gearbox is it? which Muscle car do you have?
        Old and fading technology it certainly isn’t. If you poke your head outside of America you will find the rest of the world isn’t letting the “stick” fade away any time soon.

    • I use to drive a manual for several years and I miss her a lot. Nothing beats a manual. The automatics and CVT’s now a days do have just as good if not better mpg than manuals. The traffic nightmare is not a big deal once you get use to it. The one down side to owning a manual is if you choose to sell it than it would be more difficult due to most don’t know how to drive one and would rather have an auto.