Out of all passenger vehicles sold in 2018, only 2% were built with a manual transmission. There are many reasons why the popularity of the manual transmission has dropped to such a low level.
In spite of this, there is a dedicated minority of manual transmission users in Indiana and throughout the country. They generally really like driving a manual, and they have little or no interest in switching to an automatic. When these drivers need a vehicle, they seek out those that offer a manual transmission.
Learning to drive a manual transmission takes some practice, which usually centers around the proper use of the clutch. So, what’s the point when you can just drive an automatic?
Well, for one thing, it’s like riding a bike. Once you get the hang of driving a stick, you will always be able to hop into one and take off. But there are more reasons. Here are seven of them.
1. It gives you more control and is fun to drive
When you are driving a manual transmission, you decide which gear to select and when to change to a different one. This provides many benefits:
- Your car can always be in the gear that provides the best acceleration for your speed
- You can use the effects of “engine braking,” which lets you slow down simply by taking your foot off the gas, without having to apply the brakes
- You can become totally engaged in the act of driving, making moment-to-moment decisions about acceleration, braking and going around corners, feeling totally in control of your car
- You’re much less likely to become distracted, because a manual transmission requires you to pay attention when you drive
2. It often costs less to buy a manual
Manual transmissions are usually found on two different types of vehicles: entry-level subcompact and compact vehicles, and sporty, performance-oriented cars. In the case of the entry-level choices, you will usually find the manual on the lowest-priced version of the least expensive trim level. Adding an automatic transmission will usually cost $1,000 or more, so you can usually get the least expensive version of that vehicle by selecting a manual transmission.
If you’d like a sporty or performance car with a manual, there are plenty of choices. Luxury car brands such as BMW and Genesis have some models that will give you the choice of shifting for yourself. Mini, Porsche, and Volkswagon have their own manual options, too.
3. It’s easier to maintain
Manual transmissions are much simpler devices than automatics. They have fewer parts, and are usually free from computerized controls. Manuals use gear oil for internal lubrication, and do not require the more frequent fluid changes of automatic transmissions.
Repairs are less likely to be needed on a manual transmission, and when they are necessary, they typically cost much less than those for an automatic. While the clutch on a manual transmission can wear out and need replacement, experienced stick shift drivers can go hundreds of thousands of miles and many years before this happens.
4. It gets better fuel economy
Manual transmissions have historically had an edge over automatics when it comes to fuel economy. Manuals have traditionally been lighter in weight, simpler in operation, and have consumed less power than automatics do.
This gap has closed recently, with the introduction of more fuel-efficient CVT and DCT automatics. Some recent automatic versions of cars that are also available with manuals have come out ahead, at least in government testing procedures.
But in the real world, with actual people driving (not computers), a manual that is driven intelligently can still get better mileage overall, compared to an automatic.
5. It could prevent a theft
Your average, garden-variety car thief is unlikely to know how to drive a manual transmission. This makes a manual transmission something of an anti-theft device. You may still have a broken window, or other things missing, but at least your car will still be where you parked it.
Another benefit of having a manual transmission vehicle is that most of your friends will be unable to drive it, and as a result, they will never ask you to borrow it.
6. You can push-start your car
In the unfortunate event that your car’s battery dies, or it has some other type of malfunction that keeps it from starting, a car with a manual transmission gives you more options. Unlike an automatic, a manual-equipped vehicle can be push-started, and then driven to your mechanic for repairs.
Here’s how to push-start your manual transmission vehicle:
- Get one or two other people to help you
- Get in the driver’s seat and turn on the ignition
- Put your manual transmission in second gear and hold the clutch pedal down
- Release your parking brake
- Have your helper(s) push your car, preferably downhill
- Once the car has some momentum, release the clutch
- The forward motion of the car should turn the engine over and get it running, so that you can drive it under its own power
7. It could make you a hero
There are many different possible scenarios, but they all revolve around you being the only person available who can drive a stick, thereby saving the day! Being able to get in a car with a manual transmission and drive it, when no one else can, might make you a hero. Hey, it could happen!
Manual transmissions are just that cool. Plain and simple.