Manual transmissions sticking around

Don't call it a comeback yet

The battle rages on, with a wide range of opinions on which transmission is best

Robert Marion Ellerhorst

The battle rages on, with a wide range of opinions on which transmission is best

For years the auto world was divided into two categories of drivers: those who loved the fun and control of driving a manual, and those who preferred the easiness and comfort of using an automatic. Now we live in a world where drivers have all but shunned manual transmissions in favor of the simple automatic transmission, but there are still a select few who like driving old school.

The decline of cars with manual transmissions has been steady for the past … years up until 2013, where the number rose to 452,232, up from 311,618 in 2011. Even most sports cars today are selling more automatics than manuals, and those that don’t have an automatic are flopping (i.e. Dodge Viper).

New cars today, especially trucks, have all but eliminated even the option to get a manual transmission. It’s been years since Ford gave a manual option for its F-series, and no matter how many manual holdouts stick around, automatic has firmly established itself as the preferred transmission option for new car buyers.

In my opinion, people who prefer stick shifts are the people that I would prefer driving me to my destination, because they are the ones that really understand how to drive and don’t rely on the car itself to do the work.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I love the ease and access of my automatic ’99 Corolla, but only when I’m not in the mood to actually ‘drive’. I enjoy using my automatic to get to-and-from school and when I’m out running errands, but when I’m just driving for fun on the weekends I’d rather use a manual and really feel like I’m driving.

My dad’s ’95 Ford Ranger has a manual transmission that I get to drive on some occasions. The truck may not be the prettiest sight in the world, but it gets the job done and lets you feel what it’s really life to drive.

Granted, both transmissions have their advantages and disadvantages on the road,

Automatic transmissions provide a more smooth and worry-free ride for those who get nervous behind the wheel, and appear to be the transmission that will be the most widely accepted in years to come. But as easy as it may be, it also tends to cause more problems under the hood that you may not be aware of. You don’t have as much control over your vehicle than you would with a transmission, and parts can wear down as a result of you unaware of what’s really going on under all that metal.

Manual transmissions put you in control of the car and is a good test of how good of a driver you really are. The truth is that anyone who can pass a driving test is totally cool with driving an automatic, but manuals are for people who want to take it to the next level. While fun, manual doesn’t come without its share of disadvantages either. When you’re in traffic it’s a real pain to have to keep adjusting gears every time you advance just a short distance, and it does require more attention and

Pro-manual senior Nicholas Conda enjoys driving a stick because it gives him a skill others don’t have,

“Driving a manual transmission vehicle gives one the joy of knowing a skill that many others do not know. It also gives you more control over your vehicle in the snow”

Senior Kevin McCullough, also pro-manual, thinks driving a stick makes you a better driver in general,

“My truck’s a 5 speed and driving a stick makes you more focused on the road. Plus, automatics are a lot harder to do burnouts.”

Ethan Duwell, yet another manual enthusiast, prefers it because he’s been around it his entire life and knows it forwards and back,

“My dad has driven a stick since he was my age. He drove a truck and he only changed his brakes every 100,000 miles compared to 20-25,000 with an automatic. It saves you time, money, and a few MPG’s.”

“Plus, everyone knows that the stick gets the chicks.”

Senior Gage Brock went for the pro-auto side of the debate because of its ease and comfortableness as opposed to manual,

“I think manual is too much to worry about. If you mess it up then you’re basically screwed. I always feel uncomfortable when I grind my gears. With automatic it’s a smooth ride with less thinking and worrying.”

When it comes down to which transmission is better for your car, it really depends on the way you prefer to drive. Automatic is for the people who like to let the car do the work for you, and manual is for those who like the feeling of taking control of their vehicle.

But it’s still awesome to see such a devoted group of individuals intent on keeping manual around for as long as they can. Long live the manual transmission!

Whether manual or automatic, just keep calm and enjoy the road ahead!