Is a Manual Transmission Really an Anti-Theft Device?

There’s few better feelings in the world than driving a car with a manual transmission. Pushing in the clutch, shifting the stick into the next gear, and being able to rev the engine to its redline at will is an almost spiritual experience (depending on the car you’re in). Unfortunately, for most driving enthusiasts that love the analog feel of driving a car, the manual transmission is being phased out by most automakers.

However, if you currently own a car with a manual transmission, you’re still in luck. Not only do you get to experience that fun driving feeling every day, but your car is less likely to get stolen.

If they can’t drive a manual, they can’t steal it

Have you ever heard the term “drive it like you stole it?” Well, that term isn’t going to mean much to any would-be thieves casing the parking lot and peering into your car’s windows. The sight of that stick shift in the center console is enough to get them to keep walking. If they can’t drive your car, then they can’t steal it.

That has been the case multiple times, just like the story reported in the video above. According to Fox News, the sales of stick shift cars and trucks made up just 6.7% of all sales in 2010. Compare that percentage to a take rate of 26.8% back in 1995 and we can see how much the advent of dual-clutch transmissions and CVTs have really changed the automotive landscape.

Despite the news stories, there’s no real data on theft rates

Interior detail of a Porsche 997 GT2 RS sports car.
Interior detail of a Porsche 997 GT2 RS sports car. | (Photo by Daniel Pullen/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

According to CarMax, cars with manual transmission only take up about 2.4% of their sales which shows that there’s definitely less public interest in them. Furthermore, many teen drivers nowadays aren’t learning how to drive stick in their driver’s education courses, and we would be surprised if their parents even knew how. That being said, it’s still hard to track how many thefts have been thwarted by manual-transmission-equipped cars.

CarBuzz reported that there’s no real data that proves that cars with stick shifts are stolen less frequently. However, if you currently own a car equipped with one, then you can at least rest assured that it’s less likely to get stolen than any of the cars parked around it. That probability alone is worth knowing how to drive a car with three pedals.

Other tips to prevent your car from being stolen

A car thief in a car.
A car thief in a car. | Photo: Nicolas Armer/dpa (Photo by Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

While you can technically rely on your car’s manual transmission to keep it from being stolen, there are still a few other steps you can take to protect it. Some of the most obvious tips include always locking your car, investing in a car alarm, and ensuring that you never leave your car alone with the key in it.

These may seem like the most basic tips to follow, but you would be surprised as to how many cars are stolen due to these basic reasons. According to National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) data in 2015, thieves stole 57,096 cars that had the keys left in them. That was up by 22 percent from the year before, reports Advanced Transmissions.

We suggest not being a victim of easy auto thefts like this and locking your car when you leave it, every single time. Otherwise, your car’s manual transmission might be the only theft deterrent to rely on, which might not work every time.

RELATED: What is a Dual-Clutch Transmission?