Manual vs. Automatic - What's best for new drivers? | Blog

Published by Fresh on March 8, 2017
Manual vs. Automatic - What's best for new drivers?

Goodness knows that learning to drive can be stressful. How many times have you cursed the name of the man who invented the clutch pedal? It’s even more stressful when you see an automatic car sailing away, carefree without a clutch pedal or missed bite-point in sight - and so many people who learn to drive the manual way (and struggle) often want to make the switch. But is that really the best option?

Let’s start off with a few objective facts about automatic cars vs manual cars; manual cars tend to be cheaper, they are easier/cheaper to repair than an automatic and they often have better fuel consumption. However, there’s no argument that automatic cars are the easier ones to drive - the absence of the dreaded clutch pedal and gear shift attest to that - it may take a minute to get used to but the simplicity usually takes over. It’s also harder to cause automatics harm by driving them ‘incorrectly’ and they’re much more comfortable in heavy traffic when you’re not having to work your clutch foot like you’ve got restless leg syndrome.  

Overall, a lot of people tend to argue that if you’re just after a car that gets you from A-B and you’re not particularly bothered about the ‘joy’ of driving - automatics will be more appealing. Manuals are often associated with having more control over your driving, and on the face of it, that’s definitely true, given the fact that the job of gear shifting is done for you in an automatic, the responsibility and the control is on you. This has lead to some assertions that automatics are more dangerous in icy or more hazardous conditions, because a lot of the finer controls are in the hands of the car, which can’t adapt as well as you - but that’s never been consistently proven.

There has been a bit of debate around the insurance costs surrounding manual and automatic cars, too. Some people may assume that automatics may end up being cheaper, due to the fact that on paper there are less things that could potentially go wrong. However, that may not be the case. It’s a regular trend that automatics tend to be just that more expensive to insure than a manual, simply due to how expensive they are to repair and the average cost of a claim. In fact, insurance provider Admiral have investigated this and found that the average automatic car premium tends to be nearly 6% more than a manual, and drivers with an automatic only license can face up to a 43% increase!

It’s quite easy to say that from a pure financial perspective a manual car is the better option - lower running costs, lower repair costs and it’s cheaper to insure. Plus, if you’ve been learning for your full license in a manual car, the transition to automatic can be jarring, they’re subjectively ‘much less fun’ to drive and you can make the argument that you don’t have as much control. But there’s no argument that automatic cars are indeed easier to drive, and if you’re willing to shell out a bit more for the ease of getting from A-B, there’s no real reason not to - at the end of the day, manual transmission isn't always for everyone!

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