Does Anyone Regret Buying a Manual Transmission?

With the rise in automatic transmissions, manual transmissions have started to fall by the wayside. While buying stick can be a little more affordable, it isn’t always offered — and even when it is, you may not be sure whether you really want to commit. Before you decide what type of transmission to go for, here are a few things to think about.

What makes people regret buying a manual transmission?

Since a manual transmission is definitely a commitment, it’s reasonable to wonder whether anyone regrets it once they’ve been driving one for a while. Fortunately for anyone who wants to go manual, most people do tend to be pretty happy with it. This Reddit thread is overwhelmingly full of people who love driving stick, and this reviewer for Performance Driver’s Society expresses overall satisfaction with his manual transmission even in a video dedicated to its inconveniences.

That being said, though, there are things that make people regret buying a manual transmission. Perhaps its biggest detriment is the difficulty people have driving stick in stop-and-go traffic. Since starting a manual transmission is the hardest part, driving in traffic can be especially challenging for beginners as the car is more likely to stall.

Similarly, manual transmissions are less convenient when driving in a city. This is due to the constant need to downshift as you stop at lights and intersections, which can get old fast.

Generally, driving stick is sometimes just a little less convenient. It involves more leg and arm movement, which can get tiresome when you’d rather just relax during your drive. Performance Driver’s Society also notes that it’s nerve-wracking to start this type of car on a hill, as you will inevitably roll back before you can start to drive.

The perks of driving stick

A Ferrari interior on display at London Classic Car Show at ExCel on February 23, 2017 in London, England
The stick shift for a manual transmission in a Ferrari | John Keeble/Getty Images

Despite these issues, people who drive manual consistently say that the pros outweigh the cons. Commenters on Reddit note that manual transmissions force you to focus more — some even report feeling less tired on long drives because their brain is more actively engaged the whole time.

Additionally, driving manual can help you feel more connected to your car. When speaking to the Chicago Tribune, former executive editor of Car and Driver, Mark Gillies, said, “I feel more in touch if I am operating the gears.” Manual transmissions prompt drivers to better understand and appreciate what’s going on under the hood rather than spacing out and taking the drive for granted.

Why aren’t more people driving manual transmissions?

With people overwhelmingly reporting satisfaction with their manual transmissions, you’d think that this would be a more popular choice — but that isn’t the case. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 2018, only two percent of all vehicles sold had manual transmissions. Every year, more and more automakers are reducing or eliminating their manual options. So why is this?

Ultimately, it’s a little easier — not everyone wants to be so engaged with their vehicle, and if automatic transmissions are more readily available, it’s the simpler choice. When driving automatic, you don’t need to worry about stalling, so it can seem easier for new drivers and less intimidating overall. Often, once people actually learn how to drive stick, they prefer it, but if they’ve never done it, they may not want to start.

Before you decide whether to commit to a manual transmission, it’s a good idea to consider your driving habits. People who drive stick report the most dissatisfaction in cities and when they frequently encounter traffic. However, if a manual transmission appeals to you, it’s probably worth just going for it — overall, people tend not to regret it.