Automatic vs. Manual Transmission

November 5, 2013

The following guide may help you distinguish between vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission or manual transmission. Though always popular, modern advancements have made the automatic transmission even more popular in recent years.

In the U.S. today, it is increasingly difficult to find new cars that are equipped with a manual transmission--which requires the driver to depress the clutch pedal before selecting or changing gears. Many drivers do still opt for a manual transmission, however, because it can add a higher degree of involvement with the driving experience. Modern advancements include: 6-speed manual transmissions (for better performance and fuel economy) and carbon fiber clutch plates (for longer clutch life).

For those who want the additional convenience, an automatic transmission selects the gears with little or no driver's input. All vehicles that do not include a clutch pedal are included here: the conventional automatic (now including up to 8 speeds); the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and the auto-shift manual (with gears selected by toggling the gearshift lever or paddles on the steering column). If a vehicle comes standard with a manual transmission, you can typically expect to pay several hundred additional dollars for an automatic transmission in one of those 3 formats.

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In terms of the cost of ownership, automatic transmissions generally involve higher maintenance costs (many require routine fluid changes) than manual transmissions, but repair costs for either can be very expensive. However, the traditional gas mileage advantage of manual transmissions has lessened in recent years, as automatic transmissions have become more efficient.

Moreover, some automatic transmission-equipped cars do accelerate faster than manual transmission models of the exact same car--for example, most auto-shift manuals are able to shift gears faster than is humanly possible. A simple Internet search will provide comparisons of the performance and fuel economy between manual and automatic versions of several popular vehicles.

Therefore, the choice between a manual or a modern automatic transmission really boils down to convenience. In terms of performance, fuel economy, and the cost of ownership, these 2 types of transmissions have become quite similar.

Related Questions and Answers

What do Aftermarket Transmission Coolers do?

An aftermarket transmission unit is used to cool the transmission of your vehicle if you are doing any heavy towing with your vehicle. This is especially true with an older Honda Odyssey, which tends to overheat under severe pressure on the transmission. An aftermarket transmission unit basically doubles up the cooling capacity of your vehicle, and thus makes certain that the vehicle doesn't overheat under a heavy load. There are various makes and models available ranging in price from inexpensive to very expensive, with the most expensive units being sold by the car dealership. Regardless of the model you choose, whether you are towing a boat or a caravan, it makes sense to invest in an aftermarket transmission unit.

Can You Install Import Transmissions into American Cars?

Import transmissions can be installed in American cars. In fact, several kits are available on the market for the do-it-yourselfer to tackle the job. Should you decide to undertake this project, it is wise to research extensively and obtain as much knowledge on the subject as possible. Even in the U.S., car companies have been utilizing decentralization and certain sections of a company will be in one town and the rest in another. With the modern trend of globalization, the tendency is to make one part in this country and another part in another country. Eventually bringing all the parts together for the final assembly of the car. Chances are your car already has an import transmission.

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