Home / Auto News / News article: Should You Buy a Car With a Manual Transmission? - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Apr 08 2013, 11:01 AM

2014-Chevrolet-Corvette-six-speed-main

Is the manual transmission dead? Die-hard auto enthusiasts may shout out: “No way” but is anyone listening? If you’re in the market for a new car, a manual transmission might be a good idea, for a few key reasons.

Even as automatics are becoming more advanced than ever, as shown with lightning fast dual-clutch (DCT) setups or fuel-friendly continuously variable transmissions (CVT), manual transmissions have their place in the automotive world too. If you strive for the maximum level of engagement with a car, there’s no better transmission out there to give you that feeling of total control. Here are a few other reasons why you should consider a manual transmission car.

ITS ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

Dart-ManualManual transmission cars are more affordable than automatics. That’s a fact, and is reflected in the price tag of practically every car out there. Expect at least a $1,000 increase in price when you opt for an automatic transmission, making the choice of a manual transmission car easier on your wallet.

“Cost which is by far the biggest reason that people choose manual,” says Viraf Baliwalla, President of the Automall Network, a car buying service. Viraf conducts new car buying seminars, and helps new car buyers with new purchases, to ensure they don’t have an unpleasant or confusing experience.

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“Those that are buying their first car or even a subsequent car and want to do so within a smaller budget should consider buying a manual,” Baliwalla says.

SEE ALSO: Is the Manual Transmission Dead?

Additionally, manual transmission repairs are considered to be less costly. Where an automatic transmission rebuild or replacement can cost thousands of dollars, a manual transmission usually just needs a new clutch, which costs from $600-$1500 to repair. Of course, how often you need a new clutch depends on how you drive, and while some manual transmission drivers can go through clutches more often, many can last 100,000 miles or more.

Speaking of budgets, fuel economy is another key reason why manual transmission vehicles are considered. When it comes to cars where fuel efficiency really counts, like the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze Eco, the manual transmission gets two more miles per gallon of fuel than the automatic model. Other models see this trend too: the manual equipped Chevrolet Spark, Toyota Yaris, and Dodge Dart all see better fuel numbers than the automatic models.

The benefit might be short lived though. Newer automatics are becoming geared for better efficiency, and have smarter shift-logic which can result in the auto getting better fuel numbers. The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are a prime example of this: thanks to different gear ratios than the manual models, the automatics earn better fuel economy numbers with 28 mpg combined versus 25 mpg in the manual.

MINIMIZING RISK, MAXIMIZING FUN

car-thief

Another key reason to get a manual transmission car is not only to save gas and money, but your actual car. Let’s face it, not everyone knows how to drive a stick-shift, thieves included.

“Of the insurance total losses we processed last year that were related to theft, only 14% were manual transmission” says Baliwalla.

Yes, the three pedalled setup is known to stump would-be thieves, and many reports have found cars abandoned by criminals who can’t drive them.

SEE ALSO: Should you buy a car with a CVT Transmission?

paddles-vs-stickFinally, even though new automatics are faster than even the most skilled driver, there is an old-school, tactile feeling of doing something yourself. There’s a sense of accomplishment with the perfect upshift, a rev-matched downshift or just knowing a skill that others don’t. Many manual drivers find the extra level of engagement, well… engaging!

There’s also a feeling of total car control when driving a manual transmission car. A car is placed into a gear, and won’t change unless the driver makes it. It means that you will always know what gear your car is in, unlike an automatic, which might have geared up once or twice, and won’t deliver power when you need it.

NOT FOR EVERYONE

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There are, of course, some drawbacks to manual transmission cars. Your friends or family might not know how to drive your car. While that sounds more like a blessing, it could turn out to be a problem if an emergency occurs and no one can drive your car in a pinch.

Baliwalla explains that transmission topic comes up often with couples looking for a shared car.

“Men tell us that they would be fine with either manual or automatic cars,” he says. “However, for the benefit of their wives that will be driving the vehicle, they would prefer we search for an automatic.”

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There are a few more disadvantages to buying a manual car. Often, manuals transmissions are reserved for the most basic trim package. This means if you want a manual transmission, you’ll be left without many luxuries. For example, if you want power front seats, a 5.8-inch touchscreen, leather seats, bi-xenon headlights and other goodies in the 2014 Mazda6, you’ll have to sacrifice the six-speed manual transmission. Many other cars get this treatment, such as the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Focus which must be equipped with an automatic in order to get higher trim models.

When it comes to resale value, a manual transmission can be a blessing or a curse. Buyers of that particular car may not want to row their own gears and if you’re trying to unload just such a car, it could be a long wait. Conversely, with fewer manuals on the market, your stick-shift ride could be a hot commodity for the right buyer, who might even pay a premium to get it.

SEE ALSO: Should you buy a car with a DCT Transmission?

Despite advancements in automatics, there are still advantages to buying a manual transmission car. The savings in purchase price and fuel economy are a significant advantage, but so is the potential theft prevention. Of course, there’s also no greater feeling of man and machine in unison, like a manual car blasting down the street. There’s also a feeling of exclusivity, as not many cars out there are equipped with a manual transmission. With fewer cars being offered with a manual transmission option, maybe now is the best time to get one, since they might not be around forever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doggie504 Shawn Merrill

    I picked up a 99 Mustang for dirt cheap as an extra car, and it made me remember how much fun a 5 Speed is, i regret buying my Camry in an auto now :(

  • Ryan

    The manual is gone from most cars sold in the US, but come over to Europe and more than half the cars are manuals.  Lazy Americans that don’t want to shit in traffic or scared people that don’t want to learn how to drive a manual are the cause of the decline of the manual.  Hell, you can’t even get a Chevy truck with a manual any more.

  • Neonred

    Manual transmission vehicles are rare, because people don’t learn how to drive any more.

    Most people don’t know how to even adjust the mirrors or use the turnsignals, let alone shift gears or follow the rules of the road…

  • Codeyoyo

    我觉得也是的 i think so

  • Eekolac

    Volkswagen’s seven-speed ”DSG ” gearbox:Technical nightmare !!!! Biggest waste of money!!!!
    For all those who want a VW whith” DSG ”gearbox ! Stay away ! Before buying a VW with DSG think twice!!!! 

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

    As far as the trim level thing, I’m pretty sure that most special order programs would let you order the manual transmission as a delete option with higher trim levels. Of course, they’ll likely hit you with some sort of special order fee, but I doubt automakers want to let the margins associated with higher trim levels walk out of dealerships.

  • Djinn78

    Having lived in Europe I can tell you the reason manuals rule. The roads are different, more fun for a car guy, very narrow with allot of down/up hill turns. I lived in Germany, but believe anyone close to an Autobahn area still without a limit would want a manual. It’s 100% more fun to drive in Europe. Lazy Americans?  Boring roads, low speed limits, and way to many lights to make driving fun at all. As for Chevy not offering a manual truck anymore I guess that’s a result of nobody requesting it that can actually afford to buy new. Most dumb rednecks buy used and live about 20 years in the past.

  • Heather Lehman

    Plus, if you buy an automatic, that makes it harder to do your makeup, drink your coffee, eat your lunch, read the paper, and do a backflip while singing the national anthem.

  • Mister TTT

    I have a Jeep Wrangler with Manual Tranny.  Love it.  No one here mentioned that Manuals give you extra power (eg for towing a caravan).  If you want max pulling power the general rule is go for a Diesel, and a Manual transmission.

    Also i dont think anyone focused on the negative side of manuals, being how exhausting they are to drive in stop and go traffic.  Compared to the luxury relaxing feel of an auto, manuals feel like hard labor.

  • Zatoichi_2010

     I started learning how to drive at the age of 13 on a manual transmission Toyota.
    My first car at 17 was a Honda Civic Hatchback with 4 speed manual.
    After that, I owned a 1986, 1990, 1991, and 1996 VW Jetta’s, all with Manual Transmissions.
    Currently have a 2000 Audi S4, and a 2011 Audi S5, both Manual Transmission.
    As long as I’m alive, and can drive, I will never drive anything but Manual.
    It is so much more fun, and once you get accustomed to driving Manual. It’s really hard to
    drive Automatic Not to mention the cost of repair of Manual Transmission is cheaper than Automatic.

  • Ivan Dervishev

    automatic acceptance depends on segment and continent

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1063162584 Alex Bruss

    So in 20 years they will be out of manuals and will  have to switch to autos… That sucks.. I drive a Wrangler 6spd manual and love it!

  • Chad Wilson

    If more cars were manuals, there would be less chance for the all the distracted driving we see.  That free hand is too busy working the gear shift.  Manuals save lives.

    Get rid of automatics and the average MPG of the automotive line goes up 2 to 3 MPG.  All those automatic drivers are wasting gas, they simply are no green enough.  Automatic Drivers = Destroying the Planet.  :)Driving should be made less accessible.  If you are not smart enough to learn to drive a stick, you aren’t smart enough to be on the road.  Really.  They aren’t hard to learn.  If a 12-yr old can learn — that is when I learned — and you cannot, then you are dumber than a 12-yr old.  And we don’t let them legally drive.

    Automatics should be reserved solely for the disabled, of whom may lack the extra limb to drive.

  • Headman

    select a gear, foot on the accelerator, foot off clutch…is it really that hard?
    Of course not, better control, more fun, easier to get out of strife. Why would anyone buy an automatic gearbox?

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.anderson.96343405 Steve Anderson

    i learned to drive a manual tranny at age 12…i love my 6 speed mustang..it can be very busy in traffic, but it gets out of it very quickly..

  • anjieny

    if they want me to leave the dealership with anything, it better be available with a manual trans.

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

     Of course. Anything is available…for a price. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mberkowitz86 Mike Berkowitz

    My first car was a ’87 mustang gt hatchback then a 98 mustang and then a 2004 gto and now i drive a 2012 hyundai genesis coupe turbo. I have never owned a automatic and never will. I am glad my dad tought me how to drive manual. manual cars are so fun especially on the occasional days at the track

  • http://www.facebook.com/mberkowitz86 Mike Berkowitz

    you still can drink coffee on the highway in 6th or 5th gear depending on the car :)

  • Gda

    In Europe and the rest of the world, most of the cars are MT. An Auto tranny car is usually only considered for those who are disabled in some way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Watkins/629637578 Daniel Watkins

    Automatic transmissions are good and can offer human-machine unison once you get to know the car, usually. Paddle shifters are the easiest but traditional controls with just the shifter level can work too.

    Newer cars like mine and newer usually have grade logic that holds gear when it thinks you don’t want as much fuel economy, but you can reset it by just briefly (instantly) shifting from neutral back to drive so you can shift at wil with either the lever and/or gas pedal computer trickery again.

    “a rev-matched downshift or just knowing a skill that others don’t” I can do that with my 1999 Civic DX auto.

    Automatics are easier to tow with and no chance of being hard on the bearings/rods from lugging.

    ” a manual transmission usually just needs a new clutch, which costs from $600-$1500 to repair”

    OK, but a new used auto transmission for my car costs around that much and so far mine has 230K on it.
    Obviously used car $ vs new car $ are separate arguments but still.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Watkins/629637578 Daniel Watkins

    Just keep driving that ole’ Wrangler

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Watkins/629637578 Daniel Watkins

    or if it’s an advanced car like a Prius/Jetta Hybrid/V60 diesel hybrid/etc

  • Carlos

    I made the mistake to buy an automatic. Trade it in for a manual within a year…

  • http://www.facebook.com/hokwan.yip.1 HoKwan Yip

    I prefer in between. For example, a Semi-Automatic car. It gets all the advantages from auto and manual transmissions. The most important part is its clutchless! My girlfriend learned how to drive with my supervision in 15 seconds…

  • Kinetis

    Is it really the manual that makes the Mustang more fun than a Camry? How bout the entire car is more fun than a Camry.

  • oknahs

    Manuals are the least purchased vehicles. Chevy touts the Cruze eco manuals and only 20% are sold that way. Math says 80% are sold with the automatic. Corvettes are 30% manual and balance autos. Many people buy a manual thinking they will be saving gas but in highway cruising windows closed with air the auto and manual are so close in mpg. And the best part is in todays urban traffic. My buds and I waited for a ten mile 5 mpg trail of cars on the freeway in PgH and those with the manuals were going crazy. Trying to sell a used manual means you may get 20% to look at your vehicle instead of the 80%. And clutches are replaced much more often when you are in urban settings with traffic conditions. I know of many having replaced their clutches at 40-60k miles at about $1000. The manual is slowly loosing its popularity as the million dollar supercars cars have deleted them . Auto only.
    Its the 21st century and the way of the 7-9 speed autos trickling down to the 15k cars will be only a few years away.

  • Dwayne Bhola

    Considering U.S. is the only country that allows automatics for driver’s license testing, very unlikely.

  • repealobamacare

    With the cost/complexity of today’s CVT and 6+ speed automatics, a manual transmission should save you more than $1000 at purchase time. I wonder why it is only a grand less?

    The complexity of today’s CVT and 6+ speed automatics intimidates me quite a bit, as repairs can run thousands of dollars. CVT’s have not proven themselves durable when the odometer is well into six digit territory.

    Manual transmissions are fun to drive and trouble free. I think a carefully driven manual can get better economy than an automatic. The EPA simulation doesn’t allow for skipping gears and other fuel saving techniques.

    Driving in urban conditions with a stick isn’t all that bad. Hydraulic clutches mean effortless pedal action. I regularly drive in NYC and clutches sometimes last as long as I keep the car. My record was 240K in a Plymouth Voyager before it started slipping. Put a new one on myself over a weekend. (yes, a minivan….)

    C’mon folks – actually DRIVE your car – buy a stick shift and stop being a stereotypical lazy, distracted American driver!

    .

  • Manzella81

    Hey, long post. U are obviously not an enthusiast. Its people like you that are destroying the manual transmission. All of your points are invalid…period:)

  • Manzella81

    Dan, please get a labotomy…thanks

  • Manzella81

    I can tell ya this. I live in buffalo and none of the driving schools even expose students to a manual transmission. Only one has an optional course…how can automakers be expected to continue to produce these vehicles if new drivers are never exposed to them? Its terrible. Analogy, You think people would develop an interest in chemistry and become chemists if they were never exposed to it in school? We need to call our local driving schools and talk some sense into them! LONG LIVE THE MANUAL!

  • danwat1234

    Except for towing. Max power isn’t as much as a manual because of torque converter inefficiencies but starting out on an incline is way easier and no transmission stress

  • md

    Well, the 2014 Mazda 6 just offered 6MT on the touring trim which in includes the 5.8 inch NAV screen, Leatherette seats, plus all the goodies offered in the touring trim.

  • Mr. green

    One huge advantage that manuals will always have over automatics: they FORCE you to PAY ATTENTION while you drive. No texting, no doing makeup, no unwrapping a burger, no digging around behind you for your kid’s dropped toys. Because you physically need both hands, you are forced to leave all of that for later. If more people bought cars with manual transmissions, especially for their teenagers, we would quickly be weaned from these terrible habits. People should have to prove they have self control before being allowed to drive an automatic. Driving a manual also burns more calories. :)

  • Grymrch

    You’d be surprised how my teenage daughter does all of those while driving my stick shift.

  • walters474

    when I worked for Avis, I had to instruct a German how to drive an automatic

  • Kevin Hart

    I’m going to go on a whim and say that you meant your vehicle that has a manual transmission … something about the way you wrote your post sounded…well…dirty

  • grant

    I have a 12,000 trailer I pull with a manual. Starting out on an incline is not a problem if you know how to drive it.

  • Martin

    I am sad that the manual transmission is slowly declining. I have a Honda Civic hybrid with manual transmission that is 10 years old. I love it. With over 450K miles, it is still going strong with its original clutch. And, Mr. Green, I am a L.A. commuter and you learn how to do many different things at once with a manual transmission.

  • Nate Rector

    I was a manual man until I started buying Mercedes Benz.Their automatics last forever it seems.I have 347,000 miles on one of my cars,shifts like a new one.

  • Nate Rector

    and automatic can pull larger loads for some reason

  • CJ

    Always had stick, always will. More fun, better control, and cheaper. Plus women think it’s cool :)

  • G. Becker

    Have a 2012 Honda Accord 6-speed manual. It’s fast and fun!

  • Shane Abbott

    Actually Canada allows automatics for driver testing, and most training schools wont offer manual versions. Dan has brought up some good points, however I don’t think the manual transmission will die out as too many people like the price point and fun of driving a manual transmission. before anyone suggests that I need a labotomy, Im 22 and own a 4 speed manual Triumph Tr6 and love to drive stick. but I also have an automatic 5 speed Awd honda CRV which is way more practical for lugging music gear and driving in stop and go traffic.

  • Kat

    Umm.. I hate that it’s assumed that us “little women” can’t drive manual transmissions! That’s all I’ve driven beginning with Mom’s first car – 1960 VW Beetle she brought over from Germany after marrying my dad! I’ve dated men and was married to a man that couldn’t drive a stick and I thought that was the weirdest thing. The rest of the article however, is okay – I LOVE stick shifts.. not these stupid sportronic shifts either. I want my three pedals and I want to be actively driving in my car and not feel like I’m just one step away from telling KIT to “take me home now”. I’m disgusted that a car dealer looks at me like I have 3 heads when I ask if a car comes in a manual transmission. The looks I get at the dealer where I bought my Mercedes 13 years ago (SLK 320, 6 speed manual) when I bring it in for it’s scheduled flex service — ‘What? this is a full manual transmission? I didn’t realize it was made that way!’ I wish the the manual transmission wasn’t such a rare option. I’m not sure I want to travel all the way to Europe every time I want to buy a decent new car with manual transmission because that model isn’t offered in here in the states. And believe it or not .. one time, I took my car to get it’s smog inspection .. the first mechanic got in and couldn’t drive a stick .. so he had to ask one of the other guys at the station to drive the car into the bay!

  • Yadong LIU

    Oh how unfortunate it was that I didn’t meet you. I was charming, smart, romantic, sensitive. I do love cars with manual transmission and it is a lot of fun to drive. I am a dual major in math and cs. I also love physics and mechanics. Driving a manual transmission is a great experience to learn about the car. You also gain more options to control the vehicle. However there are less and less manual cars left… I don’t have much money as a new graduate from college. Once I had money, I want to buy a VW Tiguan or VW CC.

  • FFRay

    Dude, you sound like a kid. “Clutchless”

  • Latisha

    I completely agree. When I learned to drive it was in a 1989 ford escort 5 speed manual transmission. I hate driving automatics. My degree is in Mechanical Engineering and I now want a manual transmission with 6+ passenger capacity. I have only found a few I would even consider. I have been so disappointed in the selection.

  • Ken

    Manual Transmissions are so much safer, in fact they should be required for new drivesr, and elderly drivers alike. You can slow your car by downshifting without slamming on the breaks, and the fact that you idle in nuetral, as opposed to drive is more than enough justification. I do not mind the stick even in traffic for if anything it forces you to stay focused on your driving.

  • SolsticeGXP

    there’s no such thing as “clutchless”

  • logan

    DOES NOBODY HAVE CHARTS ON THIS SHIT

  • DckheadJames23

    Even supercars are ditching manual. It’s over.

  • ambesa74

    been driving manuel all my life, i dig the the total control of it, & the fact i can downshift to a crawl without using my brakes to the last minute, is a blessing!

  • lolz

    this

  • jacob

    You are absolutely right, but they aren’t replacing them with automatics with torque converters. They are replacing them with dual clutch transmissions.

  • Sarah

    “Men tell us that they would be fine with either manual or automatic cars,” he says. “However, for the benefit of their wives that will be driving the vehicle, they would prefer we search for an automatic.”

    this article is incredibly sexist! I am a 27 year old married woman and I only drive manual!

  • Randy H.

    At age 6 (yes 6) I learned to drive on a 1954 Plymouth with a 3 speed on the column. I had no problem at that tender age. If you can’t learn to drive a stick, you should not be allowed to drive. I have had a number of cars with sticks and have never had to replace a clutch and only had one transmission problem and that was from drag racing. Removed and repaired the tranny myself which is something I could not do with an automatic. Long live the manual!

  • Dustin

    Yes, great for you! But I will say most women can’t. My wife can’t, I’ve offered to teach her multiple times, she has no desire too. I’m almost tempted to buy a manual just to force her to learn lol.

  • tabitha

    Most European countries allow automatics for license testing too. But if you choose an automatic for your test, your license will be limited and you are only allowed to drive an automatic until you’ll repeat the test with a Manual.
    But only few People in Europe opt for an auto license. The risk of being laughed at is too high.

  • tabitha

    Most women can’t? American women. European women can.
    Driving a manual isn’t difficult, so I was very surprised that so many Americans (men and women) can’t drive it. I travelled to the US last year and a lot of people were surprised that a 26-year- old European woman never drove an automatic before (alas, in US I had to, because the car rental service didn’t offer a manual. Instead the employee looked at me as if I were an alien when I asked for a manual).
    And whenever I was asked how difficult it is to drive a manual I answered that almost every European would be ashamed if he or she could only drive an automatic…

  • maevian

    lol, here in europe the theft argument falls short, everyone knows how to drive a manual

  • maevian

    Indeed, only losers who failed their exams with a manual, drive an automatic here in europe

  • maevian

    when you’re used to driving a manual, you can easily drive with one hand :p, your hand doesn’t have to be on the stick all the time :p

  • maevian

    they are the least purchased vehicle in the us, in europe automatics are the least purchased cars

  • Auto Motive

    With the technological advances in autos the 8-9 speeds trans will eventually filter into the European roads and the manual will be history. Main reason they use manuals is gas prices of $10 and more. The new autos will get 10-15 pct better fuel economy and that’s the main reason they have used manuals. This is the main reason supercars are opting out the manuals all together. Times are changing and the climate for the manual getting smaller. Take it from someone that drove manuals for over 50 years. As you age your body aches, you want comfort, less noise and a easy going hot rod. Check out why 99 pct of hot rods are automatics. I would tell everyone out there if you like a manual buy it now. Nothing is less expensive than a current C4 model covette 93-96 with 300 hp 339 ft lbs torque and is an absolute blast to drive with manual. Get one now for under $20k low mileage with a car that will grow in value over the years. Its a car you can tour, track and auto cross. I know since I have one but with the auto.

  • maevian

    That isn’t the only reason we use manuals, manuals are cheaper to repair and we drive smaller cars here in europe.
    In europe a golf is considered a mid sized car.
    It’s also a cultural thing, people who drive an automatic car are often laughed at, as in “he’s to stupid to drive a manual”, I know it’s childish but it happens all the time

  • Chris Carr

    Not to mention that all those deaths from Toyotas accelerating out of control would never have happened if they had manual transmissions. Its pretty hard for a car to accelerate out of control when the clutch is depressed.

  • Chris Carr

    I made the same mistake when I traded my 5-Speed manual in for an Automatic. Now that I’m looking for a new vehicle, I find few vehicles that even offer a manual transmission anymore.

  • Chris Carr

    I had a rental car while my vehicle was in the body shop that had a Semi-Automatic. I tried putting it in “Manual” once before determining it was completely pointless. All it did was limit the maximum gear. Its an Automatic transmission with an extra position to fool people who’ve never had the pleasure of driving a true Manual.

  • Rares

    you are a looser cause you are a poor bastard…go beg

  • Scott

    I like both MT and a good automatic.. I chose the stick because of the long term costs of the automatic. I almost got the DSG on my Jetta TDI, but maintenance was too expensive and I couldn’t afford the risk of the DSG breaking as I rack up the miles. … Scott