Ten Arguments for Driving a Manual Trans.
Not so long ago, it was widely accepted that a true performance car had a manual transmission. In fact, some performance cars were only available with a manual transmission. Well, in the great age that is the 21st century, things have changed. Now the beloved third pedal is being replaced with paddle shifters attached to the steering wheel and a network of passionless electronics connected to them that signal the transmission what to do when the driver commands it. But we’re proud to proclaim that the manual transmission is far from dead. In fact, here are 10 reasons that a manual transmission is still better than an automatic!
- Because Anyone Can Drive an Automatic
Let’s face it: most people driving a manual transmission today are doing so intentionally. Sure, 30 years ago it was an economy car or a pickup truck that people had, and more people knew how to drive them. But today, the default is an automatic. And anyone can move the lever from P to D; although some people need to be reminded to apply the brake before doing so. A driving enthusiast pilots a car with a manual transmission. It says, “I know what I’m doing, and I care about driving”
- You Have Full Control
With a manual transmission, you decide when to shift the gears. No computer that thinks it knows better than you about driving and shifting. No wondering when the transmission will upshift, or the opposite situation when the transmission upshifts itself even though you have put it into “manual” mode. If you want to drive the engine higher into the RPM range than normal, that’s your prerogative with a manual gearbox. You’ll never be in a situation where your manual transmission shifts itself at an opportune time.
- More Power to the Wheels
No one likes parasites, yet they are lurking in your car between the engine and the tires. Parasitic losses is an automotive term that describes the power that certain components consume, therefore keeping that power from doing its job of propelling your car. When it comes to transmissions, a traditional automatic transmission has an oil pump which requires power to turn. They also loose a certain percentage of engine power in the former of slippage found in the torque converter and clutches. All of that is power that a manual gearbox happily sends down the line to the tires to help put a smile on your face.
- So You Can Drive Anything
Motorcycle. Forklift. Farm tractor. Class 8 truck. A Model T. Okay, so you might need a little coaching, but if you master a manual transmission and a clutch pedal in your daily driving, you’re infinitely better prepared to drive nearly anything with an internal combustion engine and tires.
- Easier Engine Mods
Between the vacuum and electronic controls of an automatic, along with the stall speed of the torque converter, modifying the engine has extra factors in it when there’s an automatic involved. Sometimes, engine modifications can completely throw off an electronically controlled automatic transmission’s shift points, both robbing you of potential power to be gained by the engine modifications and deteriorating the driving quality of the car.
- People Are Less Likely to Borrow Your Car, Including Thieves
Since manual transmission are less common and learning to drive one is not required in driver’s education, a surprisingly low number of Americans know how to drive them. That includes your college roommate who might otherwise ask for your keys to make a libations run or a thief looking for an easy target.
- More Autocross/Track-Day Friendly
The problem with automatics in these scenarios is that it puts a lot of stress on the fluid and cooler connected to the transmission. Cooking the ATF in an automatic is muy mal, and can lead to failure and or decreased longevity. Even though some manual transmission also come with coolers, there is not a dramatic increase in heat generated in performance situations because the manual transmission does not have an oil pump creating heat and it does not rely on fluid pressure for proper shifting.
Past that, having a manual in an autocross/track day scenario gives you much more control of the vehicle for the course it’s on. You can more precisely control engine RPM and keep the engine in its power band as you go through the turns of the course.
- No Delays
Stepping on the gas and waiting for an automatic transmission to determine the appropriate gear and vary the torque converter slip to provide the acceleration you desire is no fun. With a manual transmission, when you want to accelerate, you choose to downshift if you feel it’s needed and there’s a direct correlation between engine rpm and tire speed.
- A Direct Connection
Shifting your own gears gives such a more powerful, visceral, personal connection to your vehicle compared to an automatic. It’s like making a gourmet meal yourself versus getting generic fast food. And then there’s the direct connection between crankshaft and driveshaft. It’s precise and constant; no torque converter or clutches designed to slip.
- Less Maintenance
Automatic transmissions require regular fluid changes and have a filter that needs to be replaced. That’s because a traditional automatic transmission with a torque converter has slippage and relatively high fluid operating temperature with normal use. This degrades the fluid much more quickly than in a manual transmission.