Today, manual transmissions are becoming less popular as more drivers choose the ease of automatic transmissions. In fact, just 3.9 percent of new cars sold in 2013 had manual transmissions. However, there are still some myths about both transmissions that persist. Here are five major myths surrounding manual and automatic transmissions.
Automatic Transmission Costs More Than Manual
While there still are instances where the same car with a manual transmission will cost less than one with an automatic transmission, it’s becoming more common that the price is the same for both. For example, you can buy the 2013 Buick Regal GS with either an automatic or manual transmission, and it’s the same price no matter which one you choose. Plus, it’s becoming harder to find car manufacturers making a manual transmission. In fact, 67 percent of 2013 cars only come with automatic transmission.
Manual Transmission Gives Better Fuel Economy
This is another myth that at one time was true but advancements in technology have changed it. A 2014 Ford Focus with a six-speed automatic transmission will get a combined 31 miles per gallon (mpg). The upgraded Super Fuel Economy package actually gets an even better 33 mpg. However, the same Focus with a manual transmission only gets a combined 30 mpg.
Using the Clutch Can Save Your Brakes
While it’s possible to use the clutch as a brake when you’re slowing down, you have to be very smooth with your downshifting. If you’re not, you’re actually putting even more wear on the clutch than usual. Plus, the average cost to repair a clutch is anywhere from $500 to $2500, while the average cost to replace brake pads is around $100 to $250 per axle. Therefore, manual transmission drivers are better off simply pushing the clutch in and leaving it in as they’re slowing down.
Using the Clutch to Prevent Rolling Backwards on Steep Hill
Anyone with a manual transmission knows how hard it is to prevent drifting backwards if you’re stopped on a steep hill. Sometimes, drivers will try to stop the drift by using the clutch to hold their car in place. However, they should never do this because it can burn the clutch. Instead, if they’re worried about rolling back, they can use the emergency brake. By not fully applying the emergency brake, they can release it when traffic starts moving again, and prevent rolling backwards.
Shifting Automatic Transmission to Neutral at Red Lights
The idea behind this myth is that automatic transmission drivers will waste gas, and therefore waste money, by leaving a car in drive when they’re sitting at a red light. The thought was that switching to neutral until the light turned green would save fuel. However, regularly shifting from drive, to neutral, and then back again, can cause extra wear on the engine mounts, transmission, and drivetrain. There’s also no proof that switching gears saves gas. Therefore, when you’re at a stoplight, it’s better to just leave the car in drive.
While many of these myths survive from a time when they were once true, it’s simply no longer the case today.