When you’re thinking about purchasing a new car, there will be a wide range of criteria you wish to meet. In recent years, one thing that has become more of a focal point in many car purchaser’s minds, is whether to go for manual or automatic vehicles. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both types of car that will need to be taken into consideration. We’ll be looking at the main differences between automatic and manual vehicles, hopefully helping to make your decision a little easier.

If you have yet to pass your practical driving test, don’t forget that if you decide to learn in an automatic vehicle, your licence will be limited; ultimately making the decision for you. By gaining a manual driving licence, your options will remain open, allowing you to pick whatever car you’d like. For all driving lesson queries, manual or automatic, why not take a look at driveJohnson’s?

What is the difference between Manual and Automatic vehicles?

Simply put, cars are defined as manual and automatic dependent on the gearbox. A manual car unsurprisingly involves manually changing gears with a gear stick, using the clutch to disconnect the engine from the wheels temporarily.

An automatic car switches gears for you, meaning that you’ll only have to use the accelerator and break when driving. The car will do this by temporarily disconnecting drive to the wheels and changing gear at the same time. Newer cars now have an automated clutch which helps the car achieve better fuel economy.

auto gears

What should I think about when buying a new car?

There are a few things to think about when looking for a new vehicle; firstly depending on which licence you have, as we’ve previously mentioned, will depend on which car you can purchase. If you have passed with an automatic licence, you are restricted to only driving automatic vehicles. However, if you have passed with a manual licence, you have the opportunity to drive both manual and automatic cars.

When buying a new vehicle, you should always take a checklist with you to stay on track, as the excitement can often take over! We recommend giving Auto Express Checklist a look, to ensure that every part of the car check is completed before purchase.

Whether you’re buying a car, new or used, there are a couple of things you are going to want to take into consideration. The size of the vehicle is one of the first things to think about if you are a relatively new driver. The last thing you’ll want to be doing as an inexperienced driver, is driving a huge car. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, bumps and scuffs are more likely to happen shortly after you pass, which can obviously significantly de-value a vehicle. Because of this, if you’re looking at purchasing your first vehicle, we would recommend considering a second-hand car. While car garages and private sellers are a great place to begin your search, one of the best places you can visit is Autotrader as it allows you to search specifically by make, model and mileage.

You should always take someone with you, as we mentioned earlier the excitement could take over which can have a real impact on your decision making. By having someone who has not only driven before but is good at checking over things is really beneficial. It means they can check to see if there is anything wrong with the vehicle along with asking questions you may not know to ask as a first-time buyer.

Car Keys

Automatic vehicles

Advantages of Automatics

  • Many drivers find an automatic car easier to drive and handle
  • When driving an automatic, you can concentrate more on your driving speed and road position
  • Automatic cars can be seen as more reliable
  • Due to newer models being lightweight and using variable gears, you will find automatic vehicles are just as fuel efficient as manuals

Disadvantages of Automatics

  • Automatic cars can cost a lot more to purchase than a manual vehicle due to their complex design
  • Maintenance will cost you more, again due to the design
  • In some vehicles the torque converter can make your car less fuel efficient

Manual vehicles

Advantages of Manuals

  • Many manual drivers say they feel more in control of the vehicle when they change the gears
  • Braking becomes easier, as the car does not have a torque converter which pushes automatic vehicles forward
  • Improved gas milage
  • Driving is more of an experience as you have to think more about every aspect of your driving, which keeps you more alert and not too relaxed
  • Less expensive to repair, however depending on your drive you may need to replace the clutch

Disadvantages of Manuals

  • When driving a manual vehicle you have to take one hand off the steering wheel to change gear as well as pushing on the clutch pedal, which learners can find tricky
  • You might not have as much of a comfortable ride compared to an automatic, as you are constantly pushing down on the clutch to change gear
  • Learning to drive a manual vehicle can be a lot harder than an automatic, as there is a lot more to think about and take into consideration


In the UK which is better to learn in?

In the UK we always recommend learning in a manual vehicle as it leaves you with the option to buy either an automatic or manual car. If you learn in an automatic, you will be restricted to buying only automatic cars, which means that your vehicle will be more expensive to purchase and maintain in the long run.

As a more cost-effective option, we recommend purchasing a manual vehicle. They are much easier to fix in comparison to automatic vehicles and parts are much cheaper, meaning that if you ever find yourself in a situation in which your vehicle needs repairs or replacement, you won’t be left out of pocket.

What is a semi-automatic car?

This may seem like a confusing concept but a semi-automatic allows you to have the best of both worlds, as it is like driving both an automatic and a manual vehicle. The driver is able to shift gears with a gear stick, however, does not have to press down on the clutch when doing so. In fact, the clutch pedal is removed altogether and doesn’t have any function. The car does the clutch work electronically instead.

The only downfall with a semi-automatic vehicle is that when the car changes gears electronically, it can struggle to complete the function as quickly and smoothly as some drivers may want it to. This can cause sudden changes in speed which is then often followed by heavy breaking.

When would I need to replace the clutch on a manual car?

When driving a manual car, you may need to replace your clutch at some point, and there are a few telltale signs to look out for. If your clutch starts making a noise and occasionally goes into neutral, it should be replaced; as this means that the gear cannot stick, and literally slips out instead of turning. If a clutch is going to slip you will only see this during a gear change.

If ridden excessively you can experience smoking or a burning smell from your clutch. Sometimes the clutch pedal can become harder to press or gets stuck once pushed. This indicates a problem with the hydraulic system or cable system depending on which one your vehicle has.

When needing a clutch replacement, we always recommend going to a car servicing centre in Milton Keynes, as even if it isn’t the clutch, you should have the vehicle checked over in case there is a more pressing issue.
manual gears

Automatic or Manual: Which would you choose?

When deciding whether to drive an automatic or manual vehicle, we recommend mulling over the advantages and disadvantages to both types of vehicle. If it is at all possible for you to pass in a manual, we recommend doing this, as you will have much more choice when it comes to buying a vehicle.

When you choose to buy a vehicle, we also recommend taking the car for a test drive before committing to a purchase, as you may find you prefer driving an automatic vehicle in comparison to a manual one and vice versa.

Take the time to weigh-up all of the options when looking for a car. If you are someone that thoroughly enjoys driving, then we highly recommend going for a manual, as it gives you every aspect of driving. If you are more of a lazy driver and simply wish to get from A to B, then an automatic vehicle may be for you. Again if you are slightly nervous when driving a manual or find it hard to concentrate when changing gears than an automatic will make your drive smoother, easier and slightly safer.

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