Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why I Love Manual Transmissions

Is it ethical to drive stick?
6 speed manual
The biggest advantage of a manual is that you have the control. The opportunity is on you to decide if you want to drive for sport, efficiency, towing, hills, and launching. A manual's interface is actually pretty simple. You have a clutch and a stick. You put the clutch in, select the gear you want, and let the clutch out. Petal-Stick-Petal. You do not have buttons, modes, or computers making poor authoritarian decisions for you. You get the joy of deciding how to drive your car. I can change my driving style instantly to any driving situation. For example if I am towing, I can choose to stay in an appropriate gear. If I am on hilly terrain I can choose to use the engine to slow the car down via engine breaking or scramble up the hill in a lower gear to maintain torque. Another big advantage is that you can make gear decisions based on the future. In contrast, the automatic selects its gears solely on your sole. This gives the manual an advantage as you can shift into the next gear before you might need it. As the driver, this lets you use your sight of the terrain to your advantage to know what is coming up.

I love manual transmissions. I love having the control and finesse to truly operate my vehicle which gives me a rush and pride. I drive a 6 speed all day and I love it. While many cars now have a sport shift option that allows the driver to choose the selected gear, They miss the tactile feel that operating the mechanics of the vehicle itself provide. All they are really doing is telling the car's computer to stay in a selected gear. Since the vast majority of automatic transmissions use torque converters, you still get that slushy and sluggish feel instead of the crisp and sharp feeling that your engine is begging to provide.

Manual transmissions usually provide better gas mileage. This is because there is a solid connection between the crankshaft of the engine and the wheels. There is no torque converter, which is basically a centrifugal pump, which ends up wasting power. Better automatic transmissions are secretly computer controlled manual transmissions. There are some expensive automatics now which can do better than a manual in some circumstances. Notably, dual clutch automatic transmissions do very well. However in general, your average car will get better mileage as a manual than an automatic. Another thing to think about is that you can cost much better than an automatic can.

Driving stick is not hard. After some practice, driving stick becomes completely automatic. The car becomes an extension of your intention. While driving, you don't think about what you need to do, you just do it. It is like any other activity in that the more you do it, the better you get at it. One good measure of a stick driver is if they can immediately go from driving their own stick vehicle to another and still be smooth. Once you have achieved that, you know you truly drive by the feel of the car. Your friends with sticks will thank you as well. If you feel that you are not competent enough to learn some basic car mechanics and petals, you probably shouldn't be driving. Men and women, young and old, all knew how to do this before automatics were common place. 

Manual Transmissions are very reliable. Manual transmissions are usually built to last. If you treat your manual right, you should be able to reach 150,000-175,000 miles with only regular scheduled maintenance.

Manual Transmissions are safer than automatics. This is because a manual transmission involves you in the operation of the car; you are much less likely to dose off while you are shifting. Automatics encourage distraction by leaving you alone for too long. I also feel more comfortable in a manual during adverse weather because I can do a better job of controlling the car's actions. Manuals are also safer to park. I bet you never thought of that! You can leave a manual in a very low gear such as first or reverse which will lock the wheels to a very stationary engine and use a parking break. It is good to develop a habit of putting your hand on the stick and moving it to the neutral position every time you start your car. This will let you get your car out of any gear it was left in. Even if you don't park the car with it in gear, you should still check every time for when someone else does it to your car or you drive someone else's car.

You can multitask in a manual just as in an automatic if you need to. Between shifts, there is plenty of time to bite that burger, answer that call, change that radio station, or do something else. However, for talking on the phone, I do recommend using a Bluetooth headset for convenience and safety in any vehicle.

Manual transmissions usually cost less than a competing automatic since they are much simpler and do not require computers to run. In addition, manual transmissions will work if you experience some sort of a power failure since the operation is mechanically controlled by the driver directly. Due to their simplicity, they are usually cheaper to maintain easier to upgrade.

And finally, having the skill and executing it well commands a certain degree of respect and awesomeness. 

In summary, Manuals have many advantages over automatics. I encourage you to at least learn how to drive one so you can be an educated human being. The driving experience is very different and satisfying. 

Everytime you buy a car with an automatic transmission god kills a kitten

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