Automatic transmissions have improved so much that transmission rebuilds now are far less common than clutch jobs. It doesn’t mean there are not automatic-transmission failures. But it’s once in a blue moon that one sees an automatic transmission go bad in a car with fewer than 100,000, or even 150,000, miles.
Thirty years ago, problems were more widespread. Plus, back then you’d pay an extra $1,000 to buy a car with an automatic transmission.
These days, automatic transmissions come standard in most cars. And you have to request or special-order a car with a stick shift.
Gas mileage actually is better on modern automatics than on manuals. That’s because they’re more efficient than ever, and modern six-, seven-, eight- and nine-speed automatics have a greater variety of gear ratios. Not to mention the infinite number of ratios in the CVTs that companies like Subaru offer.
So the only legitimate reason for driving a stick shift these days is that you find it fun — which is an acceptable reason. But there’s no longer a financial or environmental reason for doing so.