Manual vs Automatic Transmission: Which One Should You Get for Your First Car?

automatic and manual

There are plenty of details to consider when buying your first car: from the model and manufacturer, to the price, down to the color and additional features of a car. But one of the most common questions first-time car buyers have to ask is whether they should get a car with an automatic or manual transmission.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing what your car’s transmission will be. But it’s important to weigh in the pros and cons of either choice and see which one is more suitable for your needs. So, here’s a guide to help you decide.

Manual Transmission


Manual cars have been around much longer than cars with automatic transmission. While there is a learning curve, the good thing about being well-versed in driving a car with a manual transmission is that, should you ever need to drive an automatic in the future, it’s much easier to switch between transmissions.

Unfortunately, only around 400 car models in Australia still have a clutch pedal, so your car options on the market may be pretty limited should you decide to take this route. Here are the benefits of choosing a manual car.

It’s Cheaper

If you’re looking for low-cost cars without necessarily sacrificing quality, it’s highly likely that your first car will have a manual transmission (and if you’re looking to go even lower, consider buying a used car). Manual transmission cars will always be cheaper than cars of the same model with automatic transmission. The cost of a manual car will cost roughly a thousand dollars less than its automatic counterpart.

And when we say cheaper, we’re not just talking about the cost of buying the model itself. In the long run, manual cars are much easier to maintain and pay for. Read the next few paragraphs to learn why.

Fuel Efficiency

While newer automatic car models are becoming more fuel efficient than older manual cars, when it comes to similar models with different transmissions, manual cars are much more fuel efficient. Since you are more in control of the inner workings of your vehicle, how you use your car determines how much fuel goes into shifting engine gears.

So, while driving, you’re getting more out of the fuel you use. Aside from that, manual engines are less complex, weigh less (which means less power required to move your car), and have less parts to power.

Cheaper Maintenance Costs

fixing car

Manual transmission cars have less added machinery. While this isn’t an excuse to skip out your next maintenance schedule, it means that there’s a lot less to look out for and repair when necessary. Therefore, the maintenance and repair costs are significantly less expensive. Aside from the clutch, there isn’t that much to oversee compared to the added parts of an automatic car.

Better Overall Control

One reason automatic cars take up more gas than manual transmission cars is because of how they are designed to give a certain amount of power regardless of the circumstance. This means you may be using more gas and power than what is really necessary, which wastes your car’s energy.

Manual cars offer better integrated control for drivers that automatic cars can’t. Whether it’s going up a steep incline or traveling along bumpy roads, you have the power to delegate how you shift your engine power instead of having to be limited to what automatic cars offer.

Automatic Transmission


The newer option, automatic cars are becoming the norm for most vehicles on Australia’s roads. In fact, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries found that around 91 percent of vehicles sold in 2018 were automatic cars.

They’re relatively easier to handle and offer comfort while driving – but at a price much higher than its manual counterpart. Here are the advantages to consider if you’re thinking about getting a car with an automatic transmission.

Ease of Use

For many people, driving a manual car can be difficult to learn. It’s tricky to find a balance when shifting gears and working a clutch. Automatic transmissions, on the other hand, are fairly easier to learn because drivers do not have to worry about changing gears or stepping on the clutch at the right time.

It’s also the better option for those who don’t have the best hand and foot coordination, as manual cars will require drivers to be more alert and ready to reach for the gear shift and sync it when they step on the clutch.

Comfort for Those Living in Elevated Areas

Source: CarBikeTech

For those living in the hills or an incline, or those who travel to hilly areas, first-time drivers may have a difficult time navigating with a manual car. Automatic cars, on the other hand, are designed to handle inclined areas and can be driven with ease even in steep inclines.

Does Not Stall

For those who have driven a manual car before, you might recall those times you’ve stalled the car in the middle of a busy road. It’s embarrassing, awkward, and inconvenient for the cars behind you especially if traffic lights only offer a few seconds in between light changes. The risk of doing this might reduce once you’ve gotten the hang of driving a manual, but it’s possible to make a mistake once in a while

With an automatic car, the only time you can stall is if there is a mechanical problem with your vehicle. As long as you’re using your car properly and having it undergo maintenance at the right schedule, it’s unlikely that this will happen in the middle of the road.

Ease During Rush Hour Traffic

For an automatic driver, driving in heavy traffic means facing the annoying process of stepping on the gas every few meters or so. On the other hand, it’s quite the workout for manual car owners in the middle of rush hour or heavy traffic, as they constantly have to start, accelerate, decelerate, and stop – a tiring chore when you’re going through a big traffic jam.

Conclusion: Choosing Your First Car

buying new car

If we have to sum it up: automatic transmission offers ease and comfort while manual transmission offers cost-efficiency and control. Choose whichever you prefer to drive, and consider your long-term finances, not just whether you can afford a certain model.

Your first car is a large investment towards your means of transportation, so make sure it’s one your comfortable with. If you don’t mind the added expenses and don’t really need full control of your car, there’s nothing wrong with getting an automatic. But if you prefer something overall more cost-efficient and don’t mind the learning curve, get a manual car.


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About the Author

James Wheeler

Meet James Wheeler, a self-proclaimed motorhead and automotive aficionado. With a lifelong love for cars and bikes, James has immersed himself in the world of all things automotive. From tinkering with engines to exploring the latest tech advancements, he's got a passion for every gear and bolt. When he's not behind the wheel, James can be found penning engaging articles, sharing his insights, and uncovering the hottest trends in the automotive industry. Get ready to rev your engines and join James on a thrilling ride through the fascinating world of cars, bikes, and everything that makes your heart race.
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