Manual VS Automatic: What’s the Difference?

This is a debate as old as time. Drivers will always stand up for the particular type of car they’re driving, which is why the manual vs. automatic vehicle fight will probably never have a clear winner. However, someone without a driver’s license might be confused as to what sets these two types of vehicles apart, which is why we are going to look at each category separately and see what sets them apart.

Manual VehiclesAutomatic Vehicles
– More engaging for the driver.
– Has a clutch pedal for gear shifting.
– Costs less to repair.
– Consumes more gas.
– Less effort with shifting gears.
– Doesn’t require a clutch pedal.
– Transmission repairs are more expensive.
– Offers better gas mileage.

The best way to help you determine which of these two categories is best for you, we are going to go over the pros and cons of each particular type and see what are some of the specifications that might lead you to prefer one type of car in detriment of the other. But first, let’s see what is the main thing that sets these vehicles apart.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission

close up of hand on manual gear shift knob

As the headline suggests, the main difference between the two types of vehicles is the transmission. In terms that are easier to understand, a transmission is a mechanism that allows the car to move forward. Your vehicle’s transmission is responsible for controlling the power going to the wheels, as well as for determining the speed of the vehicle you are driving.

A transmission is made from two main components: the gears and the shaft. The gears are responsible for determining the speeds a vehicle can reach, while the shaft takes energy from the engine to make the car move.

Now, the main difference between a manual and an automatic vehicle is that the manual vehicle requires more effort on behalf of the driver to get the vehicle in motion and at the proper speed. Manual vehicles have a lever that allows drivers to shift between the available gears. This process uses an additional pedal (which is called a clutch) and which is not present on an automatic vehicle.

The idea is simple: if you want a manual vehicle to move forward, you will have to put in the elbow grease and shift from one gear to another to reach the speed of your choice.

On the other hand, automatic transmission means that the vehicle will make this change for you automatically. Naturally, you might be wondering why anyone would choose manual transmission over an automatic one when it requires more effort for a process that can be automated. If you have a little more patience, we are going to show you that manual vehicles do offer some advantages that automatic vehicles don’t (and vice-versa).

Manual Vehicle Pros

There are plenty of reasons why people who have been driving manual cars their entire lives will not give them up, and some of these reasons include:

  • Having to manually shift gears always makes driving a manual car more engaging. There are fewer chances of you being bored behind the wheel when you are actively engaged in this additional activity.
  • With a manual car, you are always in control of the gears and you get to decide when it’s time for shifting. This might sound tedious, but it’s liberating.
  • If the transmission is ever damaged, it will cost way less to repair it compared to the cost of repairing an automatic vehicle’s transmission.
  • If the transmission is ever damaged, it will cost way less to repair it compared to the cost of repairing an automatic vehicle’s transmission. For the most part, manual vehicles are less expensive compared to automatic ones.

Manual Vehicle Cons

It’s also important that we review the downsides of using a manual vehicle so that you can make an informed purchase at the end:

  • If you have to spend long hours in traffic, a manual vehicle is tiring to operate. However, this is an arguable fact, as people who have been driving manual vehicles their entire life have gotten used to the gear shifting process.
  • When you are on a more difficult road (like having to go up or down a hill), a manual vehicle requires more precise control to avoid the car rolling back.
  • There are plenty of things that you need to know about shifting gears at the right time (experienced drivers will always tell you they can “feel” when the car needs to be shifted to another gear), which makes learning how to drive a manual vehicle a little more complicated.

Automatic Vehicle Pros

Figuring out what are the pros of driving an automatic vehicle is pretty simple:

  • Because you don’t have to put in the extra effort to shift gears, driving an automatic car requires less effort.
  • Compared to manual vehicles, the transmission on automatic ones is smoother, and there are no chances of the motor “dying” because of improper gear shifting maneuvers.
  • Overall, automatic vehicles offer better gas mileage.

Automatic Vehicle Cons

Naturally, there are also some disadvantages to choosing an automatic vehicle over a manual one, and these downsides include:

  • Since the transmission of an automatic vehicle consists of more parts, any potential damage will lead to higher repair costs.
  • It’s also important to note that automatic vehicles are more expensive than manual ones, and some people might not be able to afford the higher initial investment.
  • One of the most subjective downsides revolving around automatic vehicles is that they are not as fun to drive as manual ones.


One thing we have noticed when meeting so many drivers throughout the years is that people who have always used an automatic car have a difficult time switching to a manual one, and vice-versa. People who have driven manual cars all their lives, don’t really find shifting gears all that tiresome. On the other hand, those that have gotten used to automatic transmission find that switching gears manually is complicated and tedious. In the end, your choice depends on two things: your budget and the effort you want to put in behind the wheel.