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Manual automobile transmissions

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Davidoc, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. For those who are experienced driving both manual and automatic transmissions, can you give me some comparative information in terms of practicality? Do you find it bothersome to drive a manual in moderate-high traffic situations? I'm considering buying a MX-5 Miata (love the 3rd-gen design, 2006 is its first year.) over the summer as my first car. It seems like buying a roadster with an automatic transmission would be a sin, and that a responsive car like a miata would be much more fun to drive with a stick.

    I have never driven a manual, and would probably have to rent one and learn to drive it over a weekend. That would not give me a good picture of how it would feel in the long term, at the point where using a stick seems natural. I've been driving my parents' cars over breaks and the summer, and have been car-less at school.

    Any input from manual drivers? Is it worth it to get a car with a stick even if you must drive through high-traffic areas a decent amount?
  2. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    I like stick more... automatics make me a lazy driver. :p
  3. Even though it is a bit tedious to ride the clutch through heavy traffic, driving stick is vey much worth the occasional inconvenience/discomfort for me. It is not only more fun, but it keeps me from talking on my phone/playing with the radio/being stupid in general. Learning can be very frustrating, but in a month or two driving stick should feel natural to you.
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My dad has a miata with a stick It would NOT be the same car with an automatic. If you get a miata, definitely go stick, its a fun little car, great handling.
  5. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Before I drove stick, I asked every person about heavy traffic driving. They all said, "Nah, you don't even notice it after a while."

    I never believed them.

    Having driven a stick for the past couple of years, I can attest to the fact that it doesn't really bother me. It's all so second nature that even heavy traffic isn't cumbersome. The worst part of my car is the lack of cruise control.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I have a 1999 LS and I wouldn't dream of owning one with an auto transmission. The stick is way too much fun.

    Gridlock here in the DC area is bothersome, period (especially bad in Northern VA). Other than that, being in gridlock with a stick is a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. The Miata is one of the nicest shifting sticks out there.

    Finding someone who really knows how to drive a stick can be extremely helpful. One thing to focus on is being able to finesse the clutch to the point where you can make the car inch along, completely controlling it's movement. It's a feel thing and not that hard to learn. Learn the right way and not only is it fun, it saves on repairs/maintenance costs. My wife commutes in our 92 Civic Si and it has 210k miles on it... and the original clutch.

    Another thing to consider is resale value. Most people don't want a Miata without a stick. Learn how to drive it, learn about the power band and where to keep the revs for max performance and you'll probably be amazed at the fun you can have with one of these cars. BTW used Miatas are extremely reliable, there's a ton of aftermarket stuff available for it. Remember they're also rear wheel drive so if you're not used to that it's something you also have to learn.
  7. lbpark

    lbpark Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Mobile, Al.
    I don't drive a manual, but from what I've heard over the years, it's not a pain at all. If you have an hour long commute on the interstate around a place like Boston, and the traffic is stop and go, the stick might get on your nerves after a while. Other than that, stick is the way to go.

    My folks just got a new Pontiac Solstice. If the car was an automatic, it would be completely different.

    Miatas are great cars and I agree with everyone else, stick with a stick. :D
  8. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    A car with a manual tranny is the only way to go! I drive my little Ford in Tucson's bumper-to-bumper, stop-n-go traffic and it doesn't bother me at all.

    Heck, these new cars are a breeze to drive with a manual anyways! Hydraulically activated clutches and perfect shifting 5 and 6 speed trannies make it so easy nowadays.

    I grew up on old three-on-the-tree and four-on-the-floor vehicles like '60's Ford trucks and '60-'70's muscle cars. There isn't nothing as tiring as a overly powerful BB V8 with a high pressure clutch in stop-n-go traffic. Ofcourse, I loved every minute of it! :D
  9. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Stick. More fun, more control, makes you pay attention more on some level anyway. I even found a Jeep with a manual.
  10. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Sticks are way more fun. It feels like your more part of the driving experience 'cuz *ding* you are!

    Sticking thru rush hour traffic is a pain in the butt -- in, out, in, out -- but highly do-able. Sticks are the only way to go on the open road!!

    My current S-10 is auto and I'm not too happy about that (I live in the stix). I couldn't find a 4.3 liter with a stick. Dealer said Chevy didn't want ppl tearing up the rear end. Bah!
  11. I sell parts for Mazda.

    If you buy that car with an automatic I will have to hunt you down, don't make me do that.

    Seriously though, the new Miata is a cool little car. The best thing about it is that it is an extremely fun car to drive. It doesn't have gobs of horse power like some of the more expensive coups, but it is pretty quick and will out handle them all. Putting an auto trans in that would be a shame.

    I don't even think you should have to worry about renting a car to learn. If you have someone with you that can show you how, you'll be surprised on how easy it is, Once you get the hang of it you may never look back. Stop and go traffic may be the only deterrent for your decision, but that car should be one of the easiest to drive. I believe it has a short throw shifter, which means you really don't move you arm much if at all when shifting. The clutch is also very easy as well.
  12. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    I won't own an automatic,and yes a perfomance car w/ auto is a sin. If you use the clutch properly, a manual trans will last longer and cost less to repair. I had a Honda Prelude that the clutch lasted 200,000 miles on and the rest of the trans was fine when I sold it w/ 240,000 miles.
    My Dad made me learn to drive manual before he'd let me drive and auto.

    Let me add that was Freeway miles, I drove very little stop and go, and I'm easy on my clutches.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Yep, short throw and very precise. I don't find stick to be a pain in the butt at all in traffic. It just is what it is.

    I think you hit the nail on the head about the major factor of fun. If it was a higher powered vehicle you wouldn't get a chance to go through the gears.

    I use hands free when I have to use the cell phone (and I try to avoid it whenever I can) and have a remote for my stereo.

    BTW I learned how to drive a stick in my cousin's 1970 Roadrunner. Not even close to stock LOL. If you had a momentary lapse of attention that clutch would drive your knee through your forehead.
  14. KSDbass


    Mar 25, 2005
    my dads trying to teach me in our 911 twin turbo because its the only manual we have now :mad: and of course it has a racing clutch so if you don't shift inhumanly fast the car just stops. alot. so now I'm learning with a tiptronic, which are pretty fun as long as you know all the stuff it does.
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Get the manual.

    Back when I was a courier, I used to drive 60,000 miles a year in Dallas traffic, and loved every minute of it the two years that I drove vehicles with a stick.
  16. The ONLY time I'd prefer an auto to a stick is if I broke a foot. :smug:

    It's really not hard to learn. Sure, you're going to stall it. And the first time you stop on an incline, it could get a little unnerving, but just like your timing between your left and right hand playing bass, same as it is with yer feet. In adequate proportions...let up on the clutch as much as you are giving it gas...keep the revs up and consistent, and before you know it, you're onto the next gear. It's a beautiful thing, that manual stick.

  17. AuG


    May 22, 2005
    Fort Collins, CO
    +1 but I have the cruise control. :D

    Occasionally my left leg will get kinda sore from leggin the stiff clutch I have in my car, especially in heavy traffic, but I don't think I'll ever go back to an automatic transmission.

  18. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    I've driven stick all my life - well, the driving life anyways - and I think only place where I would like to have an automatic is if there's a lot of traffic lights on a relatively fast road.

    On an incline, I usually use my parking brake.
  19. Well, almost all of my driving career has been spent using a manual transmission.

    Guess maybe I'm tired of it, as I'd love to get a car with an auto box!!!!

    Spent a week in LA in a rental car with an auto box and throughly enjoyed it!

    Stop start traffic bothers the hell out of me, and an auto box makes it a whole lot easier!

    But not having to change gear can give you more of your 'processing capacity' to focus on the road and what's going on - ie less focus on changing gears (the box is doing that for you) and more on the road!

    The main downside I see to auto boxes is the additional fuel consumption - due to them generally being heavier than a manaul box (I have no facts to back this up, just read a bit in various car mags and this seems to be the consensus - been a while though and they may have got lighter!)

    You can just about drive an auto like a manual, and there is nothing in a manual that will tocuh the nid range acceleration of an auto box on kick-down!!! If you have like for like cars with different gearboxes, the manual may provide better acceleration in the 0-60mph range......but mid-range 50-80mph it won't touch and auto!! It's just the differing nature of the two beasts!!!

    Personally after 18 years of changing gear.......I'd like a break for a while! :bassist:
  20. My wife and I taught all of our kids to drive in a 1976 VW Camper. It was a lot of fun watching their frustration and sometimes a little scary when they couldn't get it in gear to start on a steep incline in San Francisco. But they can drive anything today. :smug:

    I never had an automatic transmission until 5 years ago when I bought a Camry with one because it was a super deal. I have come to appreciate them for three things. In heavy stop & go city traffic they definitely are easier and faster. IMO, the quickness of a manual is an illusion due to being distracted by all the actions you have to take to shift gears. The second advantage is on long trips with cruise control. My wife's manual Honda is a pain in the rear because every time I have to go up a steep hill with the cruise control on in 5th gear I have to down shift, then upshift and reset the cruise control. I never have to touch the cruise control in the Camry for 45 minutes on my way into work each morning. The third advantage is that I have intermittent back problems which sometimes makes it difficult to use even a mild clutch like on my wife's Honda.

    However, you are young and should get a clutch for the fun and so that you are competent to drive one. I have a Swiss friend who had to prove she could drive a manual for a full privalege driver's license, otherwise she would have been limited to driving cars with an automatic.