Manual Transmission Advantages: Why Stick To The Stick?

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Manual transmissions are an endangered species, as people are switching to automatics especially because of the convenience offered in our manic traffic conditions. But there is an large oldschool community that will always staunchly support manual cars, even in the present day market with an increasing number of gearbox options available. Ever wondered why the following still exists?

It's because manual transmissions still have a number of important advantages over their increasingly popular automatic counterparts, that everyone should know about. Let's take a look at the reasons why we should continue to er, read the manual.

The story continues on the next slide.

1. Fuel efficiency

Cars equipped with manual transmissions are more miserly with fuel in comparison to automatics because they are lighter, and don't feature a power-sapping hydraulic pump. They are offer better economy because it is possible for the driver to choose more efficient speeds for the car to operate in, unlike autos where the unit is usually ‘hunting' for the right gear, often picking a lower gear than necessary for the situation. But the oldschool community has also accepted that autos are getting increasingly efficient, with some higher end units even offering equivalent fuel consumption figures. For the most part, however, at least in this country, manuals still offer up to 20 percent better fuel economy, saving you precious moolah in the process.

2. Cost

Automobiles with manual gearboxes cost much less than their automatic counterparts, so make sure you save your cash and stick with a manual car unless you're driving predominantly in city traffic situations, where the advantage of no clutch is hard to ignore. Here in India, the higher cost of automatic cars is possibly the biggest reason why several buyers still stick to the stick.

3. Fun factor

A major reason for manual transmissions still having an enthusiast following not just in India, but around the world, is because these gearboxes allow the all-important driver involvement for the drive experience. For those passionate about driving, being able to select the speed and remain in sole control of the engine are often of prime importance. Because there's something spiritual about shifting down to get more from the engine on an open straight, or lining up your car for a series of bends, and getting the choice and timing of gear selection exactly right. Paddle shifters can do this too, but they are aided by electronics to speed up gear shifts and protect against wrong gear choices. However, in a standard manual car, it's all you...

4. Maintenance

While automatic transmissions require regular maintenance like fluid changes, the simpler manual transmissions, if used well, will go as long you need them to go in most cases, with little or no service requirements. Older autos are also known to be prone to fluid leaks in the long term, and problems will be more complicated and cost more to repair.

5. Safety

Since one is able to make use of engine braking (downshifting gears to slow down a manual car) in addition to the brakes, it allows for more control at speed. This is especially true on downhill sections of road, where you will often find an automatic car in a higher gear than you desire, with a characteristic reluctance to downshift, making you rely entirely on the brakes to retard momentum. It's easier (and safer) to take a corner fast when you're in the optimum gear, because you can provide the car with enough torque by selecting a suitable gear.

6. Performance

Cars with manual transmissions have traditionally been faster than similar auto ‘box cars, with better acceleration and top speed figures. This holds true till the quicker-shifting DCTs (Double Clutch Transmissions) become more widespread, since at present their high cost restricts them to a niche market here. Also, like we said earlier, auto transmissions tax the engine more, so in smaller cars especially, the difference in performance is quite evident. Most racers and rally drivers still prefer manually shifting gearboxes—there's obviously something very right about being in control of the cogs.

So do you still believe in 'em good ol' manual transmissions, or have you 'shifted?'

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Read more on: #off beat #car talk #tips
Story first published: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 11:10 [IST]
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