Do Manual Transmissions Last Longer?

Do manual transmissions last longer than automatic transmissions? It’s a good question, especially as stick shifts seem to be on their way out. If you have a stick shift – or are considering purchasing a stick shift – how will that impact your maintenance costs? And will your vehicle last longer than one with a standard transmission?

The inside of a car including a stick shift.
The inside of a car with a stick shift | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

Manual transmissions last longer

Manual transmission cars do tend to last longer than their automatic transmission counterparts. Why is that? Because in general, the ability to shift into the necessary gear makes it gentler on the vehicle overall. 

However, two things make this less likely to be true in certain cases. One example is if someone is hard on their clutch; then it will wear out more quickly. Another instance when a manual transmission car may not last as long as an automatic transmission is in newer models. Newer automatic transmission cars are becoming more efficient than ever, and this cuts down on transmission wear and tear. 

Manual transmission vehicles can be more fuel efficient

Due to the control that a driver has over their vehicle, fuel economy in manual transmission vehicles can be better than those in automatic transmission vehicles. Yet similar to the longevity of a stick shift, the fuel economy of a vehicle is somewhat dependent on the age of the vehicle. 

Emissions are becoming a bigger priority for all car manufacturers. Because of that, fuel economy is improving in nearly all vehicles. And it is likely to continue to do so, whether a car has a manual transmission or an automatic transmission. 

According to Edmunds, the simple mechanics of the stick shiftvehicle can also play a role. They note that “modern automatics gained additional gears and relied less on a torque converter, they have now overtaken manuals in terms of fuel economy.”

Manual transmissions tend to be cheaper to repair

If you’re taking into consideration the overall cost of ownership of a manual transmission versus an automatic transmission vehicle, you’ll want to seriously consider a manual transmission. Because they are generally simpler than an automatic transmission vehicle, they’re typically cheaper to repair. 

That’s not to say that there’s zero maintenance in a manual transmission vehicle. There will always be maintenance costs associated with car ownership. They just may vary depending on their cause. With a stick shift, you’ll have to think of things like clutch replacement, which isn’t cheap, but will usually cost a lot less than the costs associated with an automatic transmission that will add up over the years. 

Another factor to consider when trying to decide between a manual and an automatic transmission is the transmission available in the car that you want. Fewer and fewer car manufacturers are making stick shift cars these days, so even if that’s what you want, you may have trouble finding one that you like. Still, if there’s a vehicle you like with a manual transmission – and you’re a good driver who isn’t likely to burn out their clutch too quickly, a stick shift may be the right choice for you.

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