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Author Topic: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?  (Read 4229 times)

US 41

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Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« on: February 11, 2019, 10:02:23 PM »

I bought a new car 6 months ago. I had been driving an automatic, but I really wanted a manual. My dad's old car was a manual and I missed driving stick. However I had to drive to Indianapolis (1.5 hrs away) to even find a manual. They seem to be going on the endangered list. However I definitely prefer the manual over the automatic. I for one really like to drive, so driving a manual gives me more control and more of a challenge which I really enjoy. I recently drove it to Key West and it did great. I also am getting 40 mpg. It was only rated for 36 mpg, but I tend to drive a lot easier than most people so that's probably why I'm getting better mileage. I also know that when something goes wrong with a manual they are generally cheaper to fix since they are less complex. I also like that most people my age don't know how to drive one, so no one ever wants to borrow my car. The sad part is that in another decade or two I doubt I will even be able to buy one anymore unless I import it from Europe (where 80% of the cars are still manuals).
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 10:19:44 PM »

I prefer manual.  When I was younger it was more fun.  I never really cared about the extra control.  Automatics shift fine and manuals give you more control to make bad shifting decisions.  A lot of people don't realize that different cars have different shift points and tend to over-rev.  My car likes early shifts if I'm accelerating gently, as I often do.  My cousin once had a sporty car that lugged easily and needed to be kept at higher RPMs.  That awareness is what I now like most about manuals.  I do like having the extra movements (driving an automatic is boring) but, even more, I like how it makes you feel what the car feels and adapt to the different driving conditions.  It also teaches you about how a car likes to be driven, as demonstrated by the difference between my car and my cousin's.

Around here, in Texas, a lot of the kids in rural areas know how to drive them, particularly males.  A lot of them don't know how to change a tire, change the oil, or even change the air filter, but they learn to drive with a manual transmission, probably because that's a skill that's more easily shown off.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 10:44:37 PM »

I grew up driving automatics, but at least one of my cars was a stickshift for about two decades, from 1988 or so to 2008. The two manuals I drove in those two decades accumulated about 375,000 miles before each bit the dust.

It was fun while it lasted (especially the two unsuccessful attempts to steal my car, by thieves who didn't know how to drive a stickshift), except for having to work the clutch all the time in my daily commute. The stress on my left ankle probably contributed to the mysterious and sudden fracture of that ankle (both tibia and fibula) in 2006, which required surgery and left me essentially house- and wheelchair-bound for several weeks. That made me fall out of love with my stickshift car, and when it was totaled by a drunk driver in 2008 I replaced it with a Prius (which I still own) for which a CVT automatic was the only available transmission.

My current road-trip ride is a Subaru compact SUV. I could've gotten one with a stickshift rather than a CVT if I tried hard enough, but decided I was too old to go back to a manual.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 09:18:15 PM by oscar »
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2019, 12:06:49 AM »

Automatic; for one I hate driving manuals in traffic and secondly they generally have become the better preforming variant.  I "prefer" a multimatic like my Challenger has but I don't miss it that much in a daily driver like my Impreza. 

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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2019, 01:05:08 AM »

Automatic.  My first car though (1988-1990) was a stick and I bought it without knowing how to drive one.  My Porsche 1999-2001 also was and I remembered how to drive it quickly.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2019, 01:13:54 AM »

I prefer manuals to the point that I'd rather drive a 1995 Toyota Tercel than a new Ferrari - for me the joy of driving a performance car doesn't come from the shift speed or the paddles, it's from manipulating a big powerful engine with the clutch pedal while banging through gears with a physical shifter. So I'm really sad that this doesn't seem to be the preferred option anymore.

I have one manual car and one automatic car and much prefer the manual, which I use as my primary vehicle - I intend to keep a stick-shift car as my primary driver as long as it is possible to do so, fully knowing that I'll probably need to order my next new car (and pay the corresponding premium) in a few years.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 01:21:47 AM by corco »
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2019, 03:55:50 AM »

I've only ever driven manual, so I cannot give an unbiased answer. They are far more common in Europe.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2019, 07:30:09 AM »

Iíve never owned an automatic, although my wifeís Acura has a nine-speed automatic. I donít mind the manual in traffic, Iím sure in part because Iím used to it; I find my right leg gets more tired from riding the brake than my left leg does from riding the clutch. In the automatic Iím nervous about the unfamiliar kickdown feature, and when I drive hers I use the paddles more often than she does, either to pass on a two-lane road or to force a downshift on a hill or the like. Iím more comfortable controlling the downshift than I am letting the car do it, and on hills Iíve found many automatics try to hold too high a gear and I suspect this is why many drivers slow down too much going up anything more than a minor gradient.

(I will admit the TLX is a fantastic roadtrip car even with an automatic, though.)
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2019, 09:13:58 AM »

I don't even know how to drive a manual, so...automatic.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2019, 10:15:15 AM »

Depends on the situation. My main car (an Acura TL) has a 6-speed automatic with a manual mode, but I also have a manual Honda Prelude that I drive from time to time.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 01:17:08 PM »

Manual, but I haven't owned one since 2005.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2019, 01:24:55 PM »

Manual - I've never even owned an automatic, in fact (and have no plans to).  My Mom used to prefer manual as well, but traded in her manual Civic for an automatic Ford Edge last year.  The automatic transmission and additional height from being a SUV are easier on her knees.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2019, 01:47:16 PM »

The 2 vehicles that I claim in my household are manuals, 2000 Dodge 3500 turbodiesel dually 6-speed manual and 2013 Subaru WRX 5-speed manual with factory STI short shifter and factory cat back dual exhaust as the only options.  My wife's van, a 2006 Honda Odyssey, is a 5 speed auto.  I don't claim it, though, but she seems to like it.  She can drive them all, though, as well, as long as the truck is never placed in reverse.  We've fixed more cars for other people that way...
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 01:49:19 PM by MikieTimT »
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2019, 01:52:04 PM »

I should say that it's rather difficult (impossible?) to find a seven-passenger vehicle with a stick shift.  We have a family of five and we (1) haul stuff on a regular basis and (2) travel with others to Mexico on an annual basis.  Basically, other priorities top that of having stick shift.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2019, 02:01:56 PM »

In the automatic Iím nervous about the unfamiliar kickdown feature, and when I drive hers I use the paddles more often than she does, either to pass on a two-lane road or to force a downshift on a hill or the like.

Kicking down is really easy when it is a request for increased power:  just put your foot down and hold it there.  But the transmission has to be maintained in order for kickdown to be consistently smooth.

When the transmission kicks down, there should be a brief pause (often the PCM is configured to retard ignition timing to ease the torque transfer across different wet clutch combinations), then an increase in engine buzz as the engine spins up to the higher RPM, and a gentle "springing forward" sensation of increased acceleration as the driveline winds up and the added power starts reaching the wheels.  If the fluid is old and thin, as happens when the transmission is not maintained properly, there is often a slam as the gears change, which has the effect of frightening drivers.

Iím more comfortable controlling the downshift than I am letting the car do it, and on hills Iíve found many automatics try to hold too high a gear and I suspect this is why many drivers slow down too much going up anything more than a minor gradient.

My suspicion, as someone who has climbed hills using an automatic, is that most drivers try foot-feeding their way up hills and react far too late to avoid speed drops once their vehicles bite into grades.  To avoid significant speed drop, you almost have to start accelerating for the hill before you reach it.

For mild to moderate grades, solenoid-actuated cruise control is generally better at responding promptly to speed drops as the car starts ascending.  In my Saturn, which has working cruise control with TranSynd in the transmission sump, I can set the cruise control for 65 at the bottom of I-70 just west of Denver, move into the far left-hand lane, and pass everyone else on cruise control all the way up the grade (about 6%).  The transmission just bounces from 4th to 3rd and back again (shifting smoothly each time) as required to correct small speed drops.

The Saturn is 1990's tech.  2000's tech includes hill detection logic, which can hold speed within even tighter limits and, to an extent, control speed on downgrades without driver intervention.  The hill detection logic on my 2005 Camry works so well that when I go over the Fred Hartman Bridge in Houston, I move to the far left-hand lane, passing everyone else that slows down for the climb to the top of the navigational envelope, and then move to the far right-hand lane, being passed by everyone else, with cruise control maintaining set speed of 60 throughout.

Bottom line:  most drivers don't have reflexes good enough, or pay close enough attention, to outperform control logic when attempting to hold a steady speed through changes in vertical alignment.

P.S.  I suspect many drivers may have a preference for trying to foot-feed their way up grades that was learned during the 1980's, when vacuum-actuated cruise control was state of the art.  With vacuum actuation it does make sense to change over to foot-feeding because it is almost impossible to make the vacuum diaphragm big enough to pull hard enough on the throttle cable when the engine is under heavy load and intake vacuum is minimal.  This is especially true at high altitudes (e.g., I-70 over Vail Summit), because ambient air pressure is so much closer to manifold absolute pressure to begin with.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2019, 02:29:00 PM »

^^^^

I know what the kickdown feature is. Iím just not used to it because Iíve driven manuals for 30 years. There have been times when Iíve accidentally kicked down in various rental cars and the like just because I wasnít thinking about it.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2019, 03:10:28 PM »

I have never driven a manual. I do find the idea of constantly babysitting the car to become annoying if I did try to drive one.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2019, 03:23:13 PM »

I know what the kickdown feature is. Iím just not used to it because Iíve driven manuals for 30 years. There have been times when Iíve accidentally kicked down in various rental cars and the like just because I wasnít thinking about it.

You have to think about what combinations of gear and speed the car "likes" with automatics, just like manuals, and it takes time to do this with a given car.  As an example, my Saturn usually shifts from 3rd to 4th at around 33 MPH, so if I accelerate to 35 and then allow it to slow down so the cruise control picks it up at just above 30, some of the time it will continue rolling in 4th and other times it will kick down to 3rd, and kickdown can be elicited with the merest pressure on the throttle pedal.

But in heavy power request situations, such as climbing a hill or merging onto the freeway, the response should be straightforward, and it has been in the automatics I have driven, which have had up to five forward speeds.  (I haven't tried automatics with six or more forward speeds.)
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2019, 03:29:39 PM »

I actually find myself babysitting a car with an automatic more than a car with a manual on steep hills:  that's because it never seems to shift when I want it to, so I need to fiddle a bit to get it more in line with my wishes.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2019, 04:25:45 PM »

I should say that it's rather difficult (impossible?) to find a seven-passenger vehicle with a stick shift.
One would have likely have go to back to at least a 1960s vintage bare bones full-size station wagon for such (3-on-the-tree in an H pattern) in order to find such.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2019, 04:54:17 PM »



I should say that it's rather difficult (impossible?) to find a seven-passenger vehicle with a stick shift.
One would have likely have go to back to at least a 1960s vintage bare bones full-size station wagon for such (3-on-the-tree in an H pattern) in order to find such.

I've seen a Dodge Caravan with a stickshift before, but that was in Germany in the 1990s
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2019, 05:11:35 PM »

My second car was a 1980 Buick Skylark near the end of its lifespan, and it was a manual transmission.  I learned to drive manual on that, which is no easy task living in a city built on hills.  But I really enjoyed it, and when I bought my 1994 Saturn SL2 and later my 2001 Audi A4, I was in a position to buy new and was able to get manual transmissions.  I put about 380,000 miles combined on the two cars.  My most recent two cars have been great, but unfortunately are automatic transmissions.  It made more financial sense to buy a used card each of those times (I refuse to have a car payment), and the manual transmission wasn't enough of a priority to pass up what were otherwise very good fits for me.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2019, 05:22:03 PM »



I should say that it's rather difficult (impossible?) to find a seven-passenger vehicle with a stick shift.
One would have likely have go to back to at least a 1960s vintage bare bones full-size station wagon for such (3-on-the-tree in an H pattern) in order to find such.

I've seen a Dodge Caravan with a stickshift before, but that was in Germany in the 1990s

There's a few of the first and second generation Chrysler vans out there with a stick. You could also get a Ford Aerostar with one.

I believe the Mazda 5 is the most recent seven passenger vehicle available with a stick though.

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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 06:20:59 PM »

...
Around here, in Texas, a lot of the kids in rural areas know how to drive them, particularly males.  A lot of them don't know how to change a tire, change the oil, or even change the air filter, but they learn to drive with a manual transmission, probably because that's a skill that's more easily shown off.

Because of my manual transmission preference, my kids 'inherited' manual tranni's as their first cars. My daughter said that in high school, lots of boys asked her out on dates because they were impressed that a girl could -- and even preferred to -- drive stick.
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Re: Do you prefer driving automatics or manuals?
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2019, 07:27:13 PM »

Automatic. Why make driving more difficult than it has to be?
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