If we compare which gearbox is better - automatic or mechanic, in terms of prevalence, the answer will be unequivocal. There have always been more cars with manual transmission. At least the cars. Even now, when automation is being introduced into everything, there are more cars with a good classic manual transmission than with automatic transmission. But does this trend mean that the mechanics are better than the machine? Maybe. But no.


To immediately understand the message of the material under consideration, try to compare something simpler. For example, which is better:

  • Pop or classical music?
  • Instant coffee or beans?
  • Movies or books?
  • Saucepan or slow cooker?

Everything that comes first in this list is more common. But is it better than the second one? It is impossible to say for sure. Surely you will agree with this at least on one of the points. But in order to fully compare something, more criteria are needed. For example, coffee beans taste better than instant coffee. But it is more expensive, and for its preparation you need a coffee grinder with a Turk or a coffee machine. Books are more useful than movies. But reading is harder than watching. Finally, it is more convenient to cook in a slow cooker, but it is at least three times more expensive than a pan.

It's the same with automatic and manual. Purely in terms of prevalence, it is difficult to unequivocally say which is better. More criteria are needed. And in the case of automatic transmission and manual transmission, there are plenty of them. Only 15 pieces are considered here. However, there is one catch. Many criteria for comparing an automaton and mechanics have become overgrown with myths and subjective opinions. For others, the balance has shifted as technology has advanced. In addition, for some, certain criteria are very important, but for someone, roughly speaking, they do not care.

Criteria for comparing manual transmission and automatic transmission

We will compare on the following points:

  1. Simplicity of design.
  2. Repair cost.
  3. potential resource.
  4. Difficulty to master for beginners.
  5. Ability to start the engine from a tug.
  6. Impact on fuel consumption.
  7. Influence on the cost of the car.
  8. Driving experience.
  9. Car towing.
  10. Patency.
  11. Weight and dimensions of the transmission.
  12. Dynamics.
  13. Moving uphill.
  14. Driving in traffic jams.
  15. Engine resource.

It is immediately worth emphasizing that many of these criteria are subject to myths and subjective opinions, which are debunked below and brought to the objective. Personal preferences of the author will also not be taken into account. The purpose of the article is not to impose someone's opinion or hypocritically confirm the myths, but to objectively consider the two technologies according to a number of criteria. Compare and decide what is best for you - you can do it yourself. You will have the information for this in just some 10-15 minutes.

Simple gearbox design

A manual transmission only looks simpler, but in fact it is just as complicated as an automatic
A manual transmission only looks simpler, but in fact it is just as complicated as an automatic

Most motorists have heard the opinion that an automatic transmission is an order of magnitude more structurally more complicated than a mechanical one. This is logical. After all, to make something work without user intervention, you have to complicate the device. But is an automatic transmission really more difficult than a manual transmission? If you are an ordinary car enthusiast, and not a mechanic, then the correct answer to this question is yes, who knows.

To operate the machine, it is not necessary to know about the structure of its components, mechanisms and assemblies. In fact, most don't even know. Just because it's useless. The only thing that matters to the driver is how to use the transmission. On the mechanics - timely include a suitable gear. On the machine - select the appropriate mode for the traffic situation. Everything.

That is why it is pointless to take into account this criterion if you are just going to drive your car. You absolutely don’t care how it is arranged there, spinning, spinning, and so on. Moreover, even if in the future you are going to repair the gearbox yourself, then even in this case it cannot be said which is more difficult - an automatic or a mechanic. For a person who does not understand, any of these mechanisms is difficult. To repair this or that, you will have to study the device, the principle of operation, and so on.

Outcome. You should not refuse to buy a car with an automatic transmission, based only on the fact that it is supposedly more difficult. You most likely won't have to fix it. And if you want, then it will be equally difficult to figure out the device - what is the case with automatic transmission, what with manual transmission. Especially when the car is relatively fresh model years. Modern mechanical transmissions are practically not inferior in complexity to automatic transmissions.

Transmission repair cost

The difference in the cost of repairing an automatic machine and mechanics depends on a lot of factors
The difference in the cost of repairing an automatic machine and mechanics depends on a lot of factors

This criterion is also shrouded in myths "to the very neck." Many are sure that repairing an automatic transmission is many times more expensive than a manual one. On the Internet, you can find a bunch of tearful stories about how the owners of cars with automatic transmission were left without their last pants after the repair of this unit. In addition, the myth is fueled by the erroneous opinion discussed above regarding the complexity of the device. Logic - what is more difficult, then in repair, therefore, more expensive.

But don't rush to conclusions. Firstly, the cost of repairing a gearbox largely depends on the nature of the breakdown, the make and model of the car. Secondly, it is not known how those who later complain on the Internet about the high cost of repairing the machine mocked their cars. Thirdly, the mechanics can also break down so that the cost of its restoration will be equal to the price of some foreign car on the secondary market. Finally, fourthly, who said that it is you who will definitely have serious gearbox breakdowns?

In real life, there are a lot of vivid examples when car owners have not even heard about gearbox repair and the cost of this event. Both mechanics and automatic are designed for a very long resource. Some models, with proper operation, even experience more than one engine or body. Well, if you scoff at the car, clumsily drive it and skip scheduled maintenance - it doesn’t matter what transmission. Costly repairs are unavoidable.

Outcome. Focusing on this criterion when choosing a car, too, as it turns out, does not make much sense. Break and fly into a pretty penny can both automatic and mechanics. No one has yet compared the cost of repairing automatic transmission and manual transmission on two cars of the same model under equal conditions. That is, so that the year of manufacture, and driving style, and road conditions, and driving skills, and the region with its climate, and other factors would be exactly the same. And what they write on the Internet on forums is called a purely subjective opinion.

Potential checkpoint resource

It's not a fact that the machine passes less than the mechanics
It's not a fact that the machine passes less than the mechanics

This criterion also offhand speaks in favor of mechanics. There is logic in this, they say, that which is more constructive has a smaller resource. But this logic is fundamentally wrong. It is not at all necessary that a complex mechanism is doomed to a faster failure than a simple one. This time. And two - as mentioned above - an automatic transmission cannot be unconditionally considered more complex than a manual transmission. That's where all the logic collapsed.

Now let's look at real life examples. Yes, of course, there are many cases when the machine did not last long and broke down. However, again, no one has ever compared automatic transmission and manual transmission under equal conditions. In one machine, this node is more successful and reliable. In another, it is simply famous as a weak link. Other factors also need to be taken into account. How was the box used, serviced and so on?

Strictly speaking, this medal has a reverse side. That is, you can find a lot of examples when car owners are constantly let down by a mechanical transmission. What does it mean? That the manual transmission is unreliable and has a small resource? No.

Outcome. Unfortunately, the transmission resource is not an objective criterion, based on which we can say which is better - an automatic or a mechanic. This is a subjective criterion. In addition, pretty warmed up by tearful stories on thematic forums.

Difficulty of mastering for novice drivers

The mechanics are more complicated than the machine only at the initial stage of learning to drive
The mechanics are more complicated than the machine only at the initial stage of learning to drive

Here, too, everything seems clear and unambiguous. An automatic transmission is easier to learn for novice motorists than a manual one. Yes. In the case of an automatic transmission, you don’t need to think about which, when and at what speeds to turn on the gear. No need to remember where, in fact, which gear is located. Pedals, again, less than one piece. It's easier to get moving. The car does not twitch, does not stall.

All this is so. But not really. Firstly, a novice driver does not remain such for long. Sooner or later, even the most difficult learners master the basic skills of operating the clutch pedal and gear lever. Secondly, with machine guns, too, not everything is as simple as they usually say. There, too, there is something to switch and choose correctly. In particular, this applies to automatic transmission modes. If there are a lot of them, which is typical for more or less modern cars, then it is possible to comprehend what and in what situations to turn on only with experience.

Outcome. If you are a novice driver, and for you the difficulty in mastering the gearbox is an important criterion, do not rush to look only in the direction of the machine. Despite all of the above, the automatic transmission has a number of points in which it is inferior to the manual transmission. They are discussed further. It is possible that some of them specifically for you will be more significant than this criterion. Moreover, mastering the basic skills of operating a transmission is a matter of time. Not even a month will pass (in rare cases more), as you yourself will cease to understand what is the difficulty of driving a car on the mechanics.

Ability to start the engine from a tug

Not every transmission allows you to start the engine from the pusher
Not every transmission allows you to start the engine from the pusher

It is impossible to start a car with an automatic transmission using a tugboat or, as people say, from a pusher. However, this cannot be considered an unequivocal plus of mechanics either. And there are at least two reasons for this.

Firstly, not every car with a manual transmission can be started from a tow. Many so-called injection engines do not start without constant power, which in this situation simply does not exist. Secondly, starting a car from a pusher is not such a frequent event. Some motorists have never faced such a task in their entire driving experience. Is it worth it, in this case, to focus on this criterion when choosing the type of gearbox? Of course not.

Outcome. The impossibility of starting the engine of a car on an automatic machine from a tow is not a worthwhile disadvantage. Moreover, not every car on the mechanics can be revived, so to speak, from a pusher. The criterion is never objective.

Effect of box type on fuel consumption

By default, the consumption on the machine is higher, however, on the mechanics, efficiency is also not always possible.
By default, the consumption on the machine is higher, however, on the mechanics, efficiency is also not always possible.

It is generally accepted that a car with a manual transmission a priori consumes less fuel than with an automatic one. Theoretically, this is so. But in favor of the automatic transmission, in fairness, it is worth saying the following:

  1. The difference in fuel consumption, other things being equal, is not critical - about 10%.
  2. Absolutely not every car owner is soared because of such an insignificant difference.
  3. Fuel consumption depends more on driving style than on the type of gearbox.
  4. The same with the technical condition of the car.
  5. By itself, the mechanics “does not save” fuel - for this, you still need to learn how to use it correctly.

Outcome. In the bare balance, it turns out that this criterion is not so significant. Yes, it has its place. In fact, the machine requires additional fuel. But the difference is so small that it is foolish to focus on it. In addition, in order for the ride on the mechanics to be really economical, you need to be able to use it correctly.

Impact on the cost of the machine

Automatic cars are slightly more expensive than manual ones
Automatic cars are slightly more expensive than manual ones

Cars with automatic transmission are themselves more expensive than similar models with mechanics. Moreover, their assortment is also less rich. This has happened in the past and the trend continues to this day. Naturally, if we take into account brands and models that, so to speak, are “closer to the people”. Cars of a higher class, on the contrary, are equipped mainly with automatic transmissions of various types.

However, in this criterion there is something to be said in favor of the machine. The fact is that against the background of the total cost of the car, the additional amount due to the presence of an automatic transmission is always insignificant. For example, if a car on a mechanic costs 10,000 evergreens, then a similar model on a machine will be sold with a price tag of no more than 10,500 of the same money. When cars of twenty years ago are considered for purchase, so to speak, then there is even less difference.

Outcome. It is an undeniable fact that cars with automatic transmission are 5-10% more expensive than their counterparts on the mechanics. Plus, there are always fewer to choose from. Moreover, in the secondary market, in car dealerships. So, if this matters to you, it's probably worth looking more towards the good old manual transmission.

Driving experience

The feeling of driving an automatic or manual can vary from person to person
The feeling of driving an automatic or manual can vary from person to person

To understand what we are talking about, you need at least a little experience in driving both options. The criterion, moreover, is one of the most subjective. Someone likes to just press the pedals more, without thinking about what gear is working out there now and to what speed the engine is spinning up. In such cases, sometimes they also say that it is not the driver who controls the car (in this case, part of it), but vice versa. Others, not only have a better attitude towards the existing ability to independently control the operation of the engine and transmission, but even get sincere pleasure from it.

In fairness, it should be said that an automatic transmission in this regard is far from always a sentence. More modern cars are equipped with transmissions that have a manual shift mode. As a result, if desired, the driver himself can choose the correct (in his opinion) gears and speeds, and get, so to speak, positive sensations from driving a car. True, the clutch pedal, anyway, no. But this is the tenth thing.

Outcome. Those who have driven both manual and automatic can confirm that the driving experience is different. Though not unambiguous. Some like this, others like that. So, if you are faced with a choice, then this criterion can only be guided by if you have your own experience in operating both types of gearboxes. And to believe in someone's subjective opinion is not worth it.

Car towing

It is easier to tow a car on the mechanics than on the machine
It is easier to tow a car on the mechanics than on the machine

Let's start with the manual transmission. Cars equipped with it can be towed almost without restrictions. Naturally, there are a number of cases where this is prohibited. All of them are described in the rules of the road. However, what is said there in no way refers to the gearbox. It is forbidden by the rules to tow cars that are either in principle impossible to pull on a cable, or such an event is not safe.

As for the machine, cars with it can also be towed. But, in addition to restrictions in traffic rules, there are other nuances. Including, to tow a car with automatic transmission, you need a running engine. In addition, it is recommended to keep the speed limit within 40-50 km / h, and also not to tow the machine continuously further than a distance of 50 km. We emphasize that these are just recommendations, and not strict rules that, if necessary, cannot be circumvented.

Outcome. In terms of towing a car with a manual transmission, it is a little easier than with an automatic transmission. However, the fact that they can be moved in the event of a breakdown exclusively with the help of a tow truck is, to put it mildly, an exaggeration.


Not the fact that the machine will help you off-road as the skillful use of mechanics
Not the fact that the machine will help you off-road as the skillful use of mechanics

Avid fans of manual transmission argue that for off-road the best option is mechanics. Allegedly, on the machine you can’t “grind” in puddles for a long time and often, overcome snowdrifts, swamps and other obstacles. However, it should be recalled that for mechanics, in particular for the clutch mechanism, this kind of operation is also quite exhausting.

The second point is the ease of overcoming all the same off-road obstacles. This is where opinions diverge. Someone advocates mechanics, since with its help you can drive a car more flexibly, squeezing out the maximum potential. Defenders of the machine, on the contrary, argue that it is possible to drive through difficult sections of the road in their cars without straining. Allegedly, the automatic transmission will solve all the problems that arise on its own.

As a result, we have one more completely non-objective criterion. That is, focusing on cross-country ability, it is impossible to unequivocally say which is better - an automatic or a mechanic. Much depends on the complexity of off-road, and on the car itself, and, in the end, on the skills of the driver. On advanced machines, by the way, you also need to learn how to drive over rough terrain, choosing the right mode, and wisely pressing on the pedals.

Gearbox weight and dimensions

Many talk about the weight and dimensions of the gearbox as if it would have to be carried on the shoulders. Well, yes - on average, an automatic transmission is heavier and larger than a manual transmission. But should this be considered a disadvantage of the first and an advantage of the second? No. In addition, the weight and dimensions of the transmission in no way affect either the dynamics of the car or fuel consumption. These options depend on the other.

Outcome. Despite the fact that this criterion is often given as some kind of important, in life it has no meaning. Moreover, the difference in weight and dimensions is not so big. And this is when compared to cars that are identical in terms of other characteristics.

Vehicle dynamics

It is often said that cars on the mechanics are a priori more dynamic, and on the machine - wadded. So. If you want more dynamics, then first of all focus not on the type of transmission, but on:

  1. Engine capacity.
  2. Power.
  3. Torque.
  4. Vehicle weight.
  5. Complete set.
  6. Aerodynamics.

In addition to all of the above, the dynamics of the car is highly dependent on which driver is driving it. To get the most out of the same mechanics, you need certain skills, experience, understanding of what is happening. We should also not forget that 90% of automatic transmissions have the so-called sport mode, with which the speakers will be full pants.

Outcome. Even if you take two identical cars, one on the mechanics and the other on the machine, then in this case it will be difficult to say that it will go more dynamically. In the end, Formula 1 cars are far from wadded, and all without exception are equipped with automatic transmissions. So.

Starting up the hill

For this item, plus in the piggy bank of an automatic transmission, you can safely write it down if a novice driver is driving. Indeed, starting uphill is perhaps one of the most difficult methods of driving a car on the mechanics. It is necessary and enough to give in to the gas, synchronously remove the handbrake and work out the clutch pedal. On the machine, this is not a problem for the driver, but for the transmission.

However, again, this drawback of the manual transmission will remain exactly until the skills come with experience. After several hard trainings, you can learn this technique and start moving uphill so that the car will not stall or roll back more than a matchbox (although the norm is 10 cm).

Outcome. Non-objective criterion. Dot.

Driving in traffic

In traffic jams, driving on the machine is much more convenient than on the mechanics
In traffic jams, driving on the machine is much more convenient than on the mechanics

The difficulty of driving in traffic jams on the mechanics lies in the fact that you need to constantly work the clutch pedal and switch to first gear, then to neutral. Those who do not spare the release bearing do not switch in traffic jams, but simply work with the clutch. It seems to be a definite minus.

However, on the machine in a traffic jam, you also have to do something. Option one - during stops, you need to keep your foot on the brake pedal. The second option is to click the selector either on N or on D . Of course, this is easier than in the case of mechanics. Yes, and not so tedious.

Outcome. If you choose a car and will mainly move around a busy city, the automatic is a little better. In other cases, this criterion is not in any way essential in order to refuse one in favor of the other on the basis of it.

Motor resource

There is a bearded myth that engines supposedly live longer when paired with an automatic. It is understandable - the transmission, if it works properly, "does not allow" the driver to overload the engine, timely "slipping" the optimal gear. In the case of mechanics, this responsibility lies on the shoulders of the driver. If he has the skills and understanding of how to shift gears so as not to kill the engine, his resource will not depend on the type of transmission in any way.

Outcome. In inept hands, the automatic transmission is able to protect the engine from overloads and, accordingly, accelerated wear. However, mechanics is not a sentence. With proper use of the engine resource, it will not be forcibly taken away.

Pivot table and summary

The most obvious answer to the question - which is better - automatic or mechanics, will be the summary table below. It has three columns. The first contains the comparison criteria discussed above. In the second - myths, subjective, biased, exaggerated and far-fetched opinions. In the third - objective facts.





Simplicity of design

Automatic transmission is structurally more complicated than manual transmission

Doesn't matter to the average car owner.

Repair cost

The machine is more expensive to repair and maintain

It depends not only on the type of transmission

Difficulty of development

It is more difficult to learn how to drive correctly on mechanics

Skills come with experience, and the machine is not so simple

Starting an internal combustion engine from a pusher

You can’t with an automatic, but you can with a mechanic

Not every car with a manual transmission can be revived from a tow

Fuel consumption

Cars with automatic transmission have higher fuel consumption than those with manual transmission.

Other things being equal, the difference does not exceed 10%

Car cost

Automatic cars are more expensive than manual cars.

For two identical cars, the difference will be 5-10%

Driving sensations

On the mechanics, the driver controls the car, on the machine vice versa

Subjective criterion, and there is also an automatic transmission with manual mode

Car towing

There are a number of restrictions on towing a car with automatic transmission

Towing, anyway, you can do both


Cars on mechanics are better in terms of cross-country ability

Depends on the type of gearbox by 10%, and by 90% on experience and other factors

Weight and dimensions

Automatic transmission heavier and bigger

It doesn't affect anything in the grand scheme of things.


With the mechanics of a car faster, on the machine - cotton

It depends not only on the type of gearbox

Starting up the hill

One of the hardest driving techniques in a manual transmission

Everything can be learned, and even this

Driving in traffic

It is believed that the machine in traffic jams is less tiring

With the exception of the clutch pedal, no less action

Motor resource

The machine allegedly protects the engine from overloads

In fact, the resource of the internal combustion engine almost does not depend on the type of gearbox


And the result of all this is obvious. There is no single answer to the question of which is better - automatic transmission or manual transmission. It all depends on your personal preferences, skills, habits, desires, available budget and the goals for which the car is bought.

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