Why Manuals are More Reliable Than Automatics (Still)!!!!
We heard this mantra plenty back in the good old days, “Manuals are more reliable, get better gas mileage, need less maintenance. . . etc”. Though in modern times we see article after article about “Why Manuals are Dying” or “Another Nail in the Coffin of Manuals” and plenty more of really the same pessimistic talk. The Debbie downers may be telling the truth in that manufacturing which is directly connected to the sales of new cars is seeing fewer and fewer manual options. Automatics can get better gas mileage and of course, are easier for the average driver to operate. But one thing that hasn’t changed much is that manuals are more mechanically reliable than pretty much every kind of automatic transmission.
The automatic transmission came after manual transmission, they were and are an impressive feat of innovation in technology allowing people the convince of driving a car and not having to shift their own gears. The automatic transmission has many intricate parts that need to work in hand with sensors and an array of different parts to continue to function correctly. Early automatic transmissions were known for being unreliable and getting worse gas mileage than manuals. Since the first mass-produced automatic (the GM Hydra-Matic) automatics have come a long way, with dual-clutch automatic transmissions and even CVT transmissions which can provide marginally better gas mileage than a manual.
Generally speaking an advanced transmission with more moving parts and sensors allows for more areas of breakage. The manual transmission has been around for over a decade and has been perfected. Compared to any automatic is a significantly simpler mechanism with undoubtedly fewer parts and really no need for almost any sensor or electrical parts. Fewer parts allow for fewer areas of failure. So why are manuals more reliable, there are literally not as many parts and sensors and boards that can break.
Manuals were and are very common in commercial heavy equipment, such as big rig trucks. They are known to be able to perform better under hardened and prolonged use. If it’s good enough for trucking I’m sure it can support a passenger vehicle. The reliability factor was one of the main points that persuaded me over to manuals when I was 18 years old and need my cars to last me as long as possible.
Since then I have discovered a number of other benefits behind driving a manual and find it hard to imagine myself every switch willingly. Beyond being so reliable I would commonly refer to them as bulletproof ( I can imagine they could literally be also) manuals have a number of other advantages that automatics cant provide. First, they are infinitely more reliable when the road conditions aren’t. With the use of functions such as engine braking and torque control, a manual transmission car will get improved control over slippery road conditions, such as; rain, mud, snow, or ice. With a heightened understanding of how to operate a manual, a driver can achieve superior control when the roads get questionable.
Manual transmissions allow the driver to brake the car with engine braking and by disengagement also which saves on brake life (great for city driving). Manuals have a number of advantages to them but that does publications would prefer to write about what sells, understand but sad. Thought the biggest difference between shifting our own gears and having a computer do it for us is immensely more enjoyable and engaging when we do it ourselves and get a higher degree of connection with our car. The feeling makes driving exhilarating without solely relying on breaking the speed limit, and that is why ill always have a manual or 4 in my fleet.