A manual transmission (also known as a stick shift or a manual gearbox) uses a driver-operated clutch that regulates the torque transfer from the engine to the transmission. In cars, the clutch is controlled by a foot pedal.
Pros – Manuals offer you control over your car that you don’t get with automatics. You have the ability to improve both your acceleration and your fuel economy by shifting yourself rather than letting your car do it for you. Manual drivers often claim that shifting yourself enhances the experience of driving and turns it into a wakeful adventure rather than a glazed-over experience.
Cons – Manuals require skill to drive and might cause you to kill your car on steep slopes if you’re an inexperienced driver. Stop-and-go traffic becomes painful with a stick shift because of frequent shifting, and cars with manual transmissions are also typically harder to find than automatics, as more models offer automatics.
While manual transmissions require the driver’s constant attention and input, automatics release the driver from that responsibility by automatically changing gear ratios as the vehicle moves. No clutch pedal is needed with an automatic, as the car effectively does the thinking for you.
Pros – Stop-and-go traffic is a breeze with automatic transmissions. Automatics allow you to free yourself from having to worry about when and how to shift, and make it possible to focus entirely on the road ahead of you and braking. Most models today come exclusively as automatics, making it easy to pick your automatic out.
Cons – Automatics often need to be serviced more frequently than manuals, and they also reduce your ability to control your fuel economy and performance. Automatics are not for the person looking to get the most power out of their engine.