Car owners who drive a manual transmission are an exclusive group. Less than seven percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. come with a stick shift. Here are some qualities that give the stick shift an advantage over automatic transmission.
In an automatic transmission, the gears are changed for you. Once the shift dial is set to "D," the work is done and RPMs are within their ranges. Manual, on the other hand, gives the driver more control of the vehicle; the gears and clutch are shifted by hand and foot, respectively, which many drivers prefer when accelerating through different terrain. In addition, brake handling is less cumbersome as drivers can use the torque from the engine with the vehicle's momentum to slow down, especially in snow and slippery ice conditions.
Better gas mileage
Automatic transmissions are slowly catching up in this category, but fuel efficiency is still the main advantage for stick shift drivers. For automatics, the torque converter and hydraulic pump can wreak havoc on your power and gas tank. A manual system can adjust for the power loss and conserve on gas up to five miles per gallon. Not much per gas fill up, but these savings add up in the long run.
Less worrisome maintenance
Learning manual transmission will not save you from a trip to the mechanic, but they will be less frequent. On average, sticks will have a cheaper bill from the repair shops than an automatic. Plus, if you accidentally run your battery out of power (by leaving the lights on, for example), a push-start or slight roll down a slope with the car in gear (preferably second) can quickly jump-start your engine.
Cheaper all around
New cars with a stick shift provide more value than automatics by up to $1,200 worth of maintenance. The difference is especially noticeable when purchasing a high-end luxury vehicle. Due to its simpler design and minimal parts, a manual transmission will not succumb to a costly replacement. In fact, the common problem with a stick shift is the clutch, but even at the highest estimate price it is less expensive to replace than an automatic transmission.
Making robbers think twice
Remember the aforementioned seven percent of stick shift drivers in the U.S.? There aren't many of them around. But while insurance companies don't provide discounts for transmissions types, data from various police organizations suggest manual cars aren't stolen as often as their automatic counterparts.
Vehicles with manual transmissions are a rare breed, and it takes plenty of practice to handle the nuances effectively. If you're new to this, check in with an Atlanta auto specialist for some advice on how best to get started.