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Should I choose an automatic or manual car?Back

AutomaticWhen buying a car, it’s important to do your homework before entering the showroom.

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to which model to buy, and one of the questions you might need to ask yourself is whether a used automatic car or a vehicle with a manual gearbox is the right choice for you.

The way to decide which transmission type is best suited to your lifestyle is to make sure you fully understand the differences between the two. Manual gearboxes require the driver to manually change the gears as the car reduces or increases speed whilst an automatic gearbox will change the gear the car is in without any driver input – it decides on the gear to move into based on the car’s speed.


Used cars fitted with a manual gearbox are usually cheaper than automatic used cars. They are also easier to repair therefore costs to fit a manual gearbox will be significantly lower. Automatic gearboxes will require more regular servicing and if the battery runs out, they cannot be push started in the same way a manual car can.

On the road

Some drivers feel that a manual gearbox is easier to use because it provides the driver with more control over the car, however, in busy traffic an automatic transmission means there will be no repetitive gear changing and use of the clutch is minimal on longer stretches of road, meaning the driver can cruise along easily. Some drivers will even argue that an automatic car allows more time to concentrate on the road ahead without having to worry about gear changing.

Fuel Economy

In general, an automatic car will use more fuel than a manual, mainly because it requires more power for an automatic transmission to work, which in turn costs more in fuel costs. According to the AA, to own an automatic used car, you could be looking at paying as much as 10 per cent more in fuel than in a manual car. However, this will depend on the model and the age of the car. New automatic cars are certainly becoming more efficient and environmentally friendly than their counterparts.


Manual gearboxes allow more powerful cars to be controlled more easily, particularly in bad weather conditions, whilst an automatic car will make stop and start city driving much easier to bear.

Which should I choose?

There are pros and cons to both manual and automatic cars but in general, if you want less complicated and less involved driving, choose an automatic, but if you want more control over the power of the car, opt for a manual.

It is also worth noting that if you are learning to drive in the UK in an automatic car, you will not be allowed to drive a car with manual transmission. You must pass your test in a manual car to be eligible to drive one.

Posted by Leana Kell on 03/03/2014