Automatic Vs. Manual.. The Dependability Debate

car transmission, MAIF
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.

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