Manual or Automatic: A Guide for Young Drivers


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The choice between an automatic or manual car is one that divides many road users, and while Americans seem to prefer the automatic, the preference in the United Kingdom seems to be very much towards the more physically demanding manual. Still, the choice remains, and it’s a particularly potent one for new drivers and young drivers, as their initial choice is likely to be the one they stick with for the rest of their driving lives. So which is best – manual or automatic?

Pros and cons

One of the reasons why automatics are not as popular in the United Kingdom is simply down to cost, as automatics tend to be the higher end vehicles, while manuals simply cost the average punter a lot less money to buy. The savings do not end there either, as standard automatic transmissions also need more power in order to work, and thus require more fuel. Insuring an automatic is also more expensive than insuring a manual. If something goes wrong with an automatic, fixing the problem is also likely to be more complicated, and thus inevitably more expensive than it is to have a manual transmission fixed. Manuals also allow for superior control, particularly in bad winter weather, and provide a considerably more engaging driving experience.

However, automatics do tend to offer a much smoother ride, and drivers do not have to take part in endless irritating gear shifts when stuck in traffic. Many automatics now offer as many as eight speeds, in order to make sure that the engine is not constantly over-revving. This removes some of the issues with fuel consumption, and makes for a much more relaxing experience for stressed out drivers just trying to get home after a hard day’s work.

Learning to drive

For youngsters and learner drivers who have not yet passed their test, choosing to learn in an automatic or manual is the first decision they have to make. The reality is that if you choose to learn in an automatic, you are essentially choosing to only drive automatic vehicles. If you choose to learn in a manual car, then you will always be able to choose between the two different types of vehicles after you have successfully passed your driving test. An automatic licence only gives you the legal right to drive an automatic, while you can drive both types of car if you get a manual licence.

Making the choice

Regardless of the pros and cons of manuals and automatics, at the end of the day the choice is a personal one, and should be based mostly around your own needs. If you are only licenced to drive automatic vehicles, then you will not be able to drive a manual car on public roads. Those who prefer to be more in control while driving should probably stick with a manual, while those more interested in comfort and ease than frugality would probably be better off going with automatic.