The Best Automatic Gearboxes – And Why It Matters

How do you choose your car? The following are all likely to factor in.

  • Your budget
  • Your needs – a city car just for commuting, or an allrounder that also has to take the family and pet dog on holiday?
  • The makes and models you prefer
  • Past experience with other cars
  • Your plans for keeping the car? Will you buy and then change again after a year or two, or are you buying for the long term?

There are many other factors, though sometimes it ultimately all gets thrown up in the air when we stumble across a car we love in the forecourt of the local car emporium! That said, we would recommend a little more research when spending thousands.

One other consideration has always been the type of transmission – to go with manual or automatic.

However, increasingly, that choice will become less viable, the growth of automatics is set to continue and, in time, manuals will be increasingly rare. One day, a decade or two in the future, there may be no more manual transmissions made (perhaps bar for a niche, specialist market).

This therefore throws up another question. If we are increasingly going to only have automatics as an option, which automatics are the best options?

This perhaps has not been a key consideration in the past, but, increasingly it will be.

One obvious approach is to assume that the best manufacturers are the best manufacturers regardless of transmission type. There is, at best, only some truth in this.

The most reliable car brands overall adhere to the highest of standards, they have the best research and development. As such, whether it is the transmission they fit, or any other part of the car, it is likely to be of high quality.

However, some focus on automatics more than others and differences will emerge.

At this stage, we could use our own data, list the gearboxes and transmissions we see the most often, those most likely to fail, but this is not wholly fair. As experts in gearbox repair and refurbishment we only see those that have issues.

Statistically, we are far more likely to see one used in as Ford Mondeo than an Alfa Romeo simply because there are hundreds of times more of these cars on the road. Seeing a few more, therefore, does not make them less reliable overall. Potentially, quite the opposite.

A better approach is to look at lists and recommendations from leading publications. Each and every year, the likes of AutoTrader and CarBuyer detail the gearboxes that are, in their opinion, the best.

If we look at Car Buyer’s list, it is noticeable that European brands are bossing it – those from Germany, France and Spain. Perhaps this is because mainland Europe is a step ahead of the rest of the world in terms of the move towards automatic.

Following this logic, as manuals increasingly disappear from view, the likes of Citroen, BMW Audi, VW and Seat will be strong options for automatics – of course many of these will share components if not entire transmissions.

Things, though, will change. That is not to say that those makes will become less reliable, but others will switch focus. The major Asian brands will switch purely to automatic transmissions and make huge strides – after all, the likes of Kia have those lengthy warranties to maintain so they need to produce reliable cars!

Overall, the picture is surely good for automatics overall, less so for manuals.

As the balance switches, the overall quality of automatics will grow, but ever less time will be spent developing manuals. This will then only accelerate the demand from the public for automatics, and the speed of change will become exponential.

Ultimately, the quality of cars is ever-improving, they are more reliable than ever and yet repairs are still needed.

If you do ever need a gearbox repair or refurbishment – well, you know who to contact!


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 gearboxes 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.