Every year, fewer and fewer cars are sold with a manual transmission. Most people cite their reasoning for buying an automatic because they think it's easier to drive, and many people these days don't even know how to operate a manual transmission.
Because of this trend, car companies are offering fewer and fewer models with a manual transmission. That being said, I think choosing the manual option still has some benefits over the automatic, and it's worth considering the car with three pedals.
Here's why you should pick a manual transmission over the automatic in your next car:
1. Manuals are cheaper
In most cases, choosing the manual transmission can save you around a thousand dollars up front over the automatic.
Furthermore, as emissions and fuel economy standards become more strict, automakers have increased the complexity of their automatic transmissions to help increase efficiency. This has led to solutions that requires higher maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle. Many automatics require expensive automatic transmission fluid that requires more regular changes.
Finally, an automatic transmission is much more expensive than a manual transmission to fix or replace if something goes wrong.
2. Manuals make you a safer driver
When you drive a stick shift, you have to pay attention to the road more than you would with an automatic. Changing traffic conditions require you to make sure that you are in the correct gear, which will teach you to pay greater attention to what's happening around you.
Also, because you have to use both hands and both feet to drive a manual transmission, it makes operating a mobile device much more difficult than in an automatic, encouraging people to put their phones down and focus on driving, instead.
Additionally, driving a car with a manual transmission has been shown to enhance attention and driving performance in adolescent males who have been diagnosed with ADHD by potentially up to 50 percent.
3. Manual transmissions deter car theft
Fewer people than ever are bothering to learn how to drive stick shift, and that has led to some interesting situations.
It makes sense then that a large percentage of would-be car thieves would be foiled by the need to operate three pedals. This theory seems to hold true, as a number of news stories have been reported of attempted carjackings and car thefts.
Direct statistical surveys have not been performed, it is hard to determine exactly how many cars were not stolen, because a car that a thief passed on in favor of an automatic isn't a clear datapoint. Still, these news stories show that car thieves may think twice before taking a car with a manual transmission.
4. Manuals are more efficient
Automatic transmissions have become more efficient over the past few years, and in many cars can match the efficiency of a manual. That being said, this is a very recent development, and not everyone buys new cars.
With the exception of the past few years, manual transmissions were more efficient across the board. The reason for this is pretty simple: An automatic transmission robs more power from the drivetrain as it transfers it from the engine to the wheels than a manual does.
Even though today's transmissions are now more efficient due to smarter computers and additional gears, manuals still beat the automatics offered just a few years ago.
5. Manuals are more fun
The reason most people buy manuals today is simply that they enjoy it.
There is something very satisfying about shifting through the gears. A manual transmission makes the driver feel more connected to the road, which often translates to a more fun car to drive. There's nothing quite like downshifting as you brake for a corner and applying the correct amount of power when you hit the apex, and that's best accomplished with a manual.
Also, while most people dread the idea of driving a stick shift in stop and go traffic, I actually find it to be more fun, simply because it gives you more to do while you're moving slowly forward, and that's coming from someone who deals with the traffic around Washington, D.C., every day.
So when you look for your next car, why not try the manual option? Manuals are not difficult to live with, and they aren't really all that hard to drive, especially with new technologies like hill-start assist that prevent you from rolling backward down a grade. A little practice and you'll be driving manual like a pro in a month. Who knows? You may even find it hard to go back to driving an automatic afterwards.