Manual vs Automatic: What’s Better?

There’s a long-standing argument amongst automotive enthusiasts of what’s better – manual or automatic transmission? Think of it like a NY sports fan: Jets or Giants? Yankees or Mets? It’s likely that you emphatically root for one team and detest the other. Well, that’s what we’re talking about when it comes to choosing a transmission type in the automotive enthusiast space. Let’s break down some key points to see which is the real winner.


Historically, this category has been dominated by the manual transmission. Compared to traditional automatic transmissions equipped with a torque converter, the manual can be shifted faster, it weighs less, and allows for greater control over shift points. This has always been the main argument for enthusiasts who insisted that three pedals reigned supreme. However, within the last decade there’s a new automatic transmission that levels the playing field – Dual-Clutch Transmission. This transmission type uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear changes which results in lightning quick gear changes, rev-matched downshifts, and improved acceleration. No matter how well you think you can shift on your own, the DCT is faster; way faster. Some will argue it’s still less engaging than a manual, but the performance numbers don’t lie. We’ll call this one a tie.

Fuel Efficiency

The past tells us that a manual transmission should result in great fuel efficiency. They’re lighter and usually had more forward gears. This is true when compared to automatic transmissions of old, but not so much anymore. Modern automatic transmissions have become more advanced using computer-aided technology and having gained additional gears. It’s not uncommon for modern vehicles to have 7, 8, or even 10 speeds in their automatic transmission. In addition, the highly fuel efficient, continuously-variable transmissions (CVT) are finding their way into more vehicles. Depending on what you’re shopping for, both transmission types may score the same EPA figures. This one is a tie too.

Initial Cost

On average, you can save $800-$1,200 buy purchasing a new car with a manual transmission versus an automatic. However, take into consideration that majority of new cars are no longer offered with a manual transmission, so there’s no savings if your only choice is auto. Optional manual transmissions have slowly been limited to sports cars and economy cars. Depending on what you’re shopping for, saving or spending has different meanings. If you’re buying a sports car, you want performance. If DCT is an option, that extra cost is well worth it considering they propel you to 0-60 faster than a manual. If you’re buying an economy car, you’re probably looking to save money, both up front and in terms of your fuel budget. If that’s the case, buy the manual. While this one looked like a win for the manual, we’re going to have to call it a tie – again.


Well, there you have it – a tie across the board. Even if there was a winner, it probably woouldn’t change anyone’s opinion anyway. Sometimes you’re just a diehard fan. Fortunately for everyone, we love all transmission types! Regardless of the trans type in your car, we’ve got you covered with quality, trustworthy transmission repairs. Give us a call at (516) 798-7600 or stop by 909 N. Broadway in North Massapequa!

Written by Transmission Technicians

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