The Difference between Automatic and Manual Transmission

The obvious differences between an automatic transmission and a manual transmission (or "standard shift") are visible from inside the car. Learn about others below, to know why people still like to drive manual transmission cars.

Mode of Operation - Automatic

An automatic transmission has 5 or 6 gearbox positions, but most people only use 3: Park, Reverse and Drive. The L and 1,2 settings refer to lower gears than Drive. Use these when going down steep hills and slippery icy roads, to slow your car more effectively than with brakes alone. You can engage any of these low gears without braking.

Mode of Operation - Manual

To change gears in a manual / standard transmission, you must engage the small pedal on the far left called the clutch. This releases the gears long enough to enable you to move the gearshift to the desired position. Drivers quickly learn to shift by touch alone.

Manual Transmission Advantages

Reduced brake wear, drive train longevity and better fuel economy are claimed as advantages of the manual transmission. Years of research support these claims, when the car is handled by a skilled driver.

Automatic Transmission Advantages

So far, the automatic transmission can perform smoother, faster gear changes in diesel engines equipped with turbochargers than a similar engine with a manual transmission.