Shift Your Perspective – Why You Need a Manual Transmission in Your Life

Shift Your Perspective – Why You Need a Manual Transmission in Your Life

December 19, 2018 0 By Jack Lockard

A manual transmission is sought after by many car enthusiasts. However, with the mainstream use of automatics, many people aren’t familiar with what a manual transmission is, and why is it sought after by these enthusiasts. The manual transmission for those who don’t know, is a transmission that physically requires one to shift up and down gears while pressing down on a clutch pedal. In a car with an automatic transmission, the car does this for you. This leads to the question, why would you want to drive a manual if the car does the work for you? There are actually a few reasons.

 The first of these few reasons is driver involvement, allowing a driver can feel more connected to their car, and have better control over it in terms of speed and handling.

 Another good reason to drive a manual is safety, with this increased involvement, comes a need for a driver to always have two hands available, one on the steering wheel, and one on the shifter. Many people don’t take this into account when shopping with beginner drivers for their first cars, if they did however, the number of distraction related car crashes would be lowered significantly.

A Manual Transmission in a Subaru WRX STI, Credit – Hendrick Subaru

 My personal favorite reason to drive a manual is the fact that practically nobody drives them. Along with this exclusivity comes a benefit, many people don’t know how to drive them. This means that if a thief would attempt to steal your car, there is a higher chance that they would not be able to steal it, since they don’t know how. These benefits are only a fraction of the benefits available by driving a manual, there are many more.

If a manual transmission has all of these benefits, why don’t we see more cars with them, and in turn more people driving them? There are a few reasons why this is the case, the main one being culture. You might ask what do I mean by culture? What I mean is quite simple, when taught how to drive a car, most people are taught on an automatic, leading to a lack of knowledge on how to drive a manual. Since this is the case for so many people,it can be very difficult to even find someone who has a manual to teach you on.This ultimately leads to generations of people lacking this skill. Not everywhere is like this however, in Europe, over 80% of the cars are manual; they make automatics there like manuals here, obscure. The reason for this all lies in efficiency. Due to crowded towns, expensive fuel prices, and stricter guidelines on fuel economy, Europeans have chosen manuals over automatics. Manual cars are more efficient due to gear selection, with a manual you are able to shift into a more efficient gear when necessary, allowing drivers to have better control over their fuel consumption than in automatics. While automatics have started to adapt technology that will do the same, the results aren’t quite as good yet, and won’t be for a while.

An Automatic Transmission in a New BMW, Credit – BMW of Southpoint

Most manual transmissions also tend to be less complex than automatics. This allows for easier maintenance, and in turn less frequent maintenance. The reason behind this is that manual transmissions don’t require ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid, which can deteriorate quickly and require replacement.

Although manual cars aren’t perfect,especially when you’re new to driving one. There is a learning curve associated with learning how to drive a manual. During the learning process, new drivers may cause the car to jerk, or miss shifts entirely. This isn’t the only problem either, even for some of the most experienced drivers. One of these problems being hills, if you are stop on a hill at a stoplight, to get the car to go up the hill from a complete stop, you may be forced to take your foot off the brake and shift into neutral before shifting up to be able to make it up the hill. While at first this may seem like no big deal, there is a problem. It is common to see cars tailgating behind others. This means that if you were to take your foot of the brake, you would roll backwards and cause an accident.Technically even if this is not your fault, you may be held responsible. One of the final reasons why some are choosing an automatic over a manual is the fact that shifting with an automatic has started to become quicker than shifting manually. Previously, many high performance brands such as companies likeFerrari and Lamborghini made their best cars exclusively with a manual transmission, or require people to pay extra to get an automatic. However, this slightly quicker shift time has caused many companies who have been known for performance to stop making manual cars altogether. They have retired the manual transmission and have chosen a F1 style one instead.

The F1 style transmission or a “Flappy Paddle Gearbox”, is as the name suggests, a transmission that is similar to one used in Formula One cars. This allows drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel while shifting to give a smoother faster shift time. This F1 transmission, also known as a CVT transmission, (Continuously Variable Transmission), is starting to be seen not only on some sports cars, but on many new cars as well. The reason for this being that it offers the company reason to give their vehicles a “sporty” flair even if this is not the case.

An “F1” Style Transmission in a Mclaren 675LT, Credit – Pagani of Beverly Hills

After all of these reasons, you might be convinced that using a manual transmission is now irrelevant, and you would be better off just buying a car with a CVT. Well, it isn’t as many of the problems stated before have been fixed. Companies such as Subaru have started to integrate a feature, which holds you in place on a hill, making sure that you won’t roll back and hit another car.

And as far as the learning curve goes, that issue is starting to be resolved with more intuitive design, and the widespread knowledge of people on the internet on how to drive a manual.

With all of these new features of the manual taken into account, along with the safety benefits of driving manual, driving a manual becomes a safer, more economical option with few faults. And while it is up to you whether or not you want to drive a manual, I would highly recommend that you give one a chance the next time you go shopping for a car.