The Pros and Cons of Manual and Automatic Gearboxes

When choosing your next car there are numerous choices to be made, but some matter more than others.

Choosing the colour of the car might be something to ponder, a bit more thought should be given to which type of gearbox to choose.

Many drivers simply stick with the same type for their entire driving career – they learnt on a manual, they stick with a manual transmission.

However, it is possible to switch (unless you learnt on an automatic of course).

Should you? Are manuals superior or do modern automatic gearboxes now have significant advantages?

At North West Transmissions, gearboxes are all we do – repairing them and providing reconditioned units. We have 45 years’ experience and an unmatched reputation. As such, we’re very well placed to look at a few pros and cons for each type of gearbox.

Manual Gearboxes



A manual gearbox has a number of key advantages, these explaining why they have remained so popular while other parts of driving have been increasingly automated.

They offer more control, this allows the driver to choose which gear to be in at all times. If the conditions are wintry they can get that bit more control by staying in a high gear, enabling them to adapt better to wintry conditions. The same can be true for country roads, many drivers liking that ability to use the manual gears to prepare for upcoming corners.

For those who have driven manuals since learning to drive, the thought of giving over this control can be daunting. The driver knows what they intend to do next; they can see the road ahead. The car can’t.

Manual gearboxes also tend to enable more speed to be generated, although this can be somewhat notional. In reality it matters little if a car can reach 120 MPH or 110MPH, it won’t be hitting either of those speeds on a UK road.

Acceleration matters though and, as a general rule, manuals perform better here too. That, though, is not to say that all automatics have poor acceleration, simply that on equivalent cars the manual version is likely to get to 60MPH that bit faster.

In many cases, manual gearboxes are easier to maintain as they are a less complex beast. However, this is a generalisation – if you are in the North West and need advice or repair to a gearbox, please contact us.


Manual gearboxes do not have major flaws, any issues usually limited to an individual problem with a specific unit. Some argue they are slightly less safe than automatics as you are required to take one hand off the wheel to change gear – however, this seems a stretch.

The gear change will almost always occur at a moment when the driver has no other challenges or distractions. Having manual control also allows a driver to prepare for the road ahead, this potentially more than compensating for the issue of driving briefly one handed.

An article we read also suggested leg ache as an issue. This again is a stretch and, if it becomes an issue, do just that. Park and stretch.


Automatic Gearboxes



The core benefits of the automatic transmission are that they are considered by many to be easier to drive and also smoother.

The need to change gears and so operate the clutch is of course removed, driving becomes as simple as accelerating, braking and steering. This also irons out the bumps of gear changes, the drive will feel uniform and controlled.

Removing the need to change gear and control the clutch can also make driving in busy traffic easier. Stop start traffic can lead to numerous gear changes, often just a few seconds apart; removing these burdensome changes is beneficial.




They can be a bit boring compared to manual gearboxes. Those for whom driving is just a necessary task might not be concerned by this, the drive is to get somewhere rather than being pleasurable of itself.

Others enjoy driving and changing gears can be a key part. For them, an automatic can never compare.

They also tend to be more expensive to buy.


Which to choose

With modern gearboxes, either option is perfectly valid. Automatic gearboxes can be that bit slower and less responsive, but modern automatics largely negate these differences through dual clutch technology.

The choice really boils down to personal preference and your driving needs.

If you do a lot of driving that is stop-start and your driving is functional, then automatic moves into strong contention.

For those who enjoy the feel of driving, of which changing gears can be a part, and get out on to more open roads manual might retain their appeal.

Ultimately though we can’t tell you which to choose, nor can any blog post on any site. We can though fix or replace any gearbox.


About NWT

At North West Transmissions we repair gearboxes or source replacement with guaranteed refurbished units.

A family-run business, we have a truly superb reputation, this shown by our 4.9 out of 5 average rating from dozens of reviews on Google.

All reconditioned gearbxes come with guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles while reconditioned automatic units come with a re-manufactured torque converter that has a lifetime guarantee.

Our technicians are all highly skilled with vast experience in reconditioning and repairing all units – importantly their efficiency helps cut down the price of repairs and so too the cost.

Gearbox problems are all-too common. If you find yourself in need of a repair or reconditioned unit, that often being the more economical option in the long term, please contact us.

Call us on 0151 933 0257 or use our Contact Form.