Not everyone even knows how to drive a manual transmission anymore. Still, it’s appreciated by many long-time car lovers and those who love driving things that stay connected with the vehicle. An understanding of the way a clutch operates and the interaction with the drivetrain can make driving really fun.
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However, that might not be the only reason a manual transmission is more appealing to some. What else could be? In this article, we bring an answer to the question: Is a manual transmission more reliable than an automatic one?
Is Manual Transmission Cheaper to Maintain than an Automatic?
According to Cars.com, the cost of maintaining a stick shift system is cheaper than that of an automatic. The idea that a manual transmission is more reliable may come from the fact that they are usually cheaper to repair. Automatics have so many more intricate parts and complex functions that have the ability to fail.
Part of what may make a manual transmission more reliable than an automatic is the sheer level of simplicity when you compare the mechanics of one to the other.
Additionally, because of all of these complicated mechanic functions and the parts that drive them, an automatic transmission typically costs more to repair and replace. The price even increases when it is the automatic transmission of a luxury vehicle. So, you cannot use the price of repairing the automatic transmission of an entry-level vehicle to compare to that of a luxury vehicle, which runs into millions.
Fuel Economy of Manual Transmissions
A 2015 article by Consumer Reports notes that “manual transmissions can deliver better fuel economy and acceleration.” There are a few comparisons between the manual versus the automatic transmission in terms of gas mileage. Some vehicles such as the Mazda3 have improved fuel economy with a stick shift. As opposed to their automatic counterparts which fell behind a couple of mpg.
While that may have been true for cars in 2015, such is not the case for newer cars. For example, the 2021 Mazda3 was tested by Car and Driver. The manual transmission version of the 2021 Mazda3 did return better fuel mileage than it is rated for. But it was still behind the automatic transmission in terms of fuel economy by 2 mpg.
Edmunds also tested manual transmission vehicles, realizing that they have better fuel economy. Some may think that a manual is more reliable than an automatic transmission. They might make the argument that the fuel economy is better. But this assumption applies only to older models.
Is Manual Transmission More Reliable?
Maintenance costs can be cheaper for a manual transmission. Even as simple as changing transmission fluid will cost more for an automatic drive system. The fluid change for a manual shift car is cheaper.
However, it’s not as simple as maintenance costs. Because the reliability of a manual transmission can be variable depending on drive style, it’s actually very difficult to say one way or the other. Which is more reliable? In an older car with a skilled driver, it will certainly be true that a manual is more reliable. But, if the driving is hard on the clutch then the same statement is false––even in a newer car.
Overall, there are too many factors and variables. These days, it’s just not easy to make the statement that manuals are more reliable. Even if they are more fun.