Automatic or Manual – which to choose?

30% of all new cars on Irish roads are now automatics so are automatics better than manual and what do you need to consider when choosing between them? We get some expert advice from Ladybird Driving School

One of the most intense debates in the car industry is the use of automatic and manual transmissions. Simply go into any room with car enthusiasts, throw the question out there, then watch and listen to the variety of arguments -often influenced by preferences that will be presented. The peculiarities of Manual and Automatic cars are often considered in making choices such as car renting, car buying and even learning. This guide will discuss the components of both types of cars, and while this might influence your choices when next you want to buy a car, it is comprehensive enough to help you make decisions about your driving lessons too. If you are in Ireland, for instance, it could make you consider and influence you enough on what type of transmission you decide to learn in.

The fundamental difference in both types of cars is the format in which the generated power is directed to the vehicles drive wheels. In simpler words, the difference is determined by gear shifting which the driver has to do in a manual car, and which is done by the car through an automated process in an Automatic car. Since generating power and transferring it to the wheels of the vehicle is essential to propel a car, shifting is necessary for your car’s operation.

What are automatic cars?
An automatic car uses a torque converter to automatically adjust gear ratios to easily smoothly transition to a state suitable for the pace and conditions of the road. It is also known as self-shifting transition, or simply as auto or automatic and is based upon a hydraulic automatic transmission. There are other types, such as the continuously variable transmission and semi-automatic transmissions, but the most common automatic cars at the moment are the traditional hydraulic transmissions. An automatic car hydraulic transmission contains a converter, planetary gears train and hydraulic controls. An automatic car has the following features,

Easy to drive
An automatic car is very easy to drive since the driver doesn’t have to worry or concentrate on the clutch operation or gear work shifting and is freed up from having to concentrate on changing gears. The car operates without the need to focus on a clutch. An automatic car is, therefore, more convenient, comfortable and easier to drive. For those who have to engage in some other activities of concentration while driving, such as trying to watch kids in the car, receiving and making calls (only a hands-free device is acceptable), grabbing a snack or anything, an Automatic car is an ideal bet. A manual car would not guarantee such advantages as the maximum concentration is often used to navigate it.


Much more comfortable
An automatic car makes traveling more comfortable, as there are hardly any of those bumps or grinds a manual car does when a wrong gear decision is made. The smooth transitions facilitated by the automatic transmissions guarantee a seamless, frictionless ride. It’s an effortless and seamless transmission through the gears and one of utmost smoothness and comfort.

Better Navigation
If you have lived in extremely busy areas, and residing in a new city presents more congested traffic to you, Automatic cars are often the best choice. If your journey from home to work is about 15 minutes, and there is the need to make many stops on the way, Automatic cars reduce the stress and energy to be expended during such stops. When it comes to the ease to drive and pace of learning, automated cars are the best option. Automatic cars are often more expensive – both to buy and maintain and are generally considered to consume a lot of fuel – though that is now changing through the advent of fuel-efficient automatic cars and with the advent of Hybrid and Full Electric cars now on the market the argument for Automatic driving and Automatic driving lessons is hugely on the up. The argument is how we value the trade-off between a little bit more expense for an Automatic car and the peace and ease at which it’s driven versus a cheaper manual car with gear shifting and lots of manual work physically shifting gears up and down and much more stress.


Manual cars. ( gears )
A manual car has a manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox. The first and most common type of car, the manual transition was the traditional model and is known as standard transmission. Manual cars are one in which a shift or stick is used to shift gears and a third pedal to operate a clutch. The gears are driver operated, and unlike an automatic car in which the gear is adjusted by some functionalities of the vehicle, a driver has to make all the decisions on some stick shift with indicators. Its this driver opinion of when to change gears is the great debate. Do you know someone who goes all the way to the end of the road In first gear? Do you know someone who goes from 5th gear to first gear at the roundabout? We do! At present, the most common manual transmission vehicles are five or 6-speed manual transmissions. A manual car usually features a clutch operated by the driver and a gear( used by the driver to select the gear ratio), and there are gears that enable a driver to only select the higher level, or the gear ratio just below, known as a sequential manual transmission. A manual car has certain features which include.

  • Less fuel consumption
    Manual cars have many benefits too. The absence of a hydraulic pump makes a manual car consume way lesser fuel (though the presence of locking torque converters has reduced the disparity in the level of fuel consumption between automatic and manual transmission vehicles). Generally, however, manual transmission vehicles consume lesser fuel and offer great fuel economy. The use of lesser compartments in manual cars also enhances its fuel economy.There’s no denying this.
  • More control 
  • Manual cars also enable drivers to have more control over the car. Manual cars remain commonplace in sport contests because of the flexibility and control over the operation of the car and its handling.
  • Durability
    Manual cars generally last longer. The mechanisms of a manual car are not as intricate as an automatic car, have fewer moving components, and can be manufactured easily. Furthermore, they require less maintenance and are cheaper to repair so maintenance bill’s and general repairs are less.
  • Stability
    Vehicles with manual transmissions are better equipped in the event of unfavourable conditions, such as being stuck in mud or snow. Manual cars can also be push-started when the battery is extremely low. Automatic cars cannot do this.
  • Manual cars could be unpopular with some drivers for certain reasons. First, it is harder to learn how to drive a manual car than an automatic car. An inexperienced driver will have issues with locating the clutch while focusing on the road. Technical faults could develop when a driver selects the wrong gear levels as it requires the car to react, damaging components in the process. Worse, a driver could lose control of the vehicle with the wrong decision. This is where a proper driver training experience will assist greatly in eliminating these type of errors.
  • Manual Cars do not enable disabled people to use them. It also requires a lot of reflexes, many hand movements and the use of both feet. It is difficult to drive a manual transmission vehicle without concentration and total focus. People who are disabled cannot drive manual cars also, especially if it is a limb prosthesis where the Automatic car can be adapted to suit.


The choice between manual and automatic cars boils down to personal preferences. While someone might love manual transmission vehicles for all the control it offers the driver, others may simply like the ease in driving, and the easier learning that automatic transmission vehicles offer. Though manual cars can be difficult to drive, an effective training can help anyone understand fully the technicalities of a manual car, and drive an automatic car with confidence. There are areas in which someone who has an automatic license cannot drive a manual car, except he upgrades his learning. At Ladybird Driving School we teach in Manual and Automatic Transmissions.

Automatic versus Manual? The choice is yours.

Safe and comfortable driving from all of us at Ladybird Driving School.

We will be back next month with our next instalment of #LearnWithLadybird but in the meantime check out some info about us here


1st May 2019

Author: wheelsforwomen

Ireland's only website for women on wheels - cars, motorbikes, bikes. Video/ reviews, driving tips - written by women for women.

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