If you’re going to be driving a traditional internal-combustion-engine powered vehicle, then you’ll be faced with two different kinds of transmission. There’s manual, which requires you to change the gears yourself, and then there’s automatic, which does the hard work for you.
For most of us, buying a car is a significant financial investment. Thus, the decision you make will be enormously important. This applies especially if you’re going to be putting a lot of time into driving throughout the year. It’s worth devoting a little bit of consideration to the decision between manual and automatic. But exactly what factors should you be thinking about?
There can be little doubt that driving an automatic is much easier than driving a manual. There’s no need to worry about changing gears, and you’re free to concentrate solely on other aspects of driving, like steering the car in the appropriate direction.
For many drivers, however, the automatic system might be a little too aggressive or relaxed when it comes to changes. Manual transmission gives you greater control of the vehicle. For many, this is a major contributor to the fun of driving, which might not be easily surrendered.
Some drivers may be licensed to only drive automatic cars. This being the case, your options are going to be limited – unless you take the test necessary to upgrade from an automatic licence to a full one.
The more complex a machine, the more potential points of failure there are. Thus, the more likely it is to break down. Automatic transmission might make the driving experience simpler, but only by making the underlying machinery more complicated. Problems with automatic transmissions tend to be more difficult to diagnose, since the various technologies involved are often restricted to a particular manufacturer, rather than being generic across the entire industry. You might therefore need a specialist to take a look at the problem.
Cars with an automatic gearbox tend to be slightly more expensive, for the simple reason that they have more advanced technology lurking under the hood. Moreover, automatic vehicles tend to be offered more by premium brands than by more budget-conscious ones. For example, if you’re shopping for a Mercedes, you can expect almost every car you find to come in both manual and automatic options.
Given that automatics are more expensive to replace, and more likely to run into reliability problems, they tend to also command higher insurance premiums. You’ll want to factor this into your thinking when you come to budget for the entire cost of the car across its lifespan.