Cars. They are everywhere! Red, blue, black, white. Cars are personality defining. People make perceptions of you according to the car you own. I mean seriously, you see an SUV cruising by and you automatically think “family car”. Just the way humans and different cultures are sometimes stereotyped, cars can be stereotyped too. For example, many people consider “teal” a car colour for girls. Some people are under the impression that they absolutely need to buy the latest model. If you are a first time buyer, these stereotypes can often end up leading you to make the wrong choice. A car is less of an accessory and more of a utility. While it is fine to look at and treat their car as an accessory and prized possession, the most important thing to keep in mind is finding yourself a car that suits you.
Cars are a long term investment and what people say shouldn’t affect the car you choose for yourself. Finding a car you feel the most comfortable to drive in is crucial to your safety and the safety of others on the road. And plus, stereotypes and trends change so quick, imagine compromising and making a choice based on what other people are saying only to realise that 6 months later, that trend no longer exists.
So instead of worrying about how your car looks, let’s have a look at what’s really important – whether you’re better suited for an automatic or manual car. There are pros and cons for both options that you need to consider before making a decision. Most people use their cars for over 10 years, especially if they invested in a brand new one. So it’s safe to say that the car you buy will need to be as perfect as possible.
Novus has compiled a comprehensive outline for each type of car and why it might be best for you.
How it works
This transmission system may be simpler to drive, but the system itself is in no way simple.
A majority of automatic transmission vehicles are operated hydraulically and consist of three main components: the torque converter, planetary gears, and hydraulic controls.
1. The Torque Converter
The torque converter is responsible for 3 main tasks:
- Taking the place of a clutch in a manual transmission.
- Controlling the speed of the car by moving transmission around it’s fan-shaped components; the faster the fluid moves, the faster your car travels.
- A torque converter attached to the engine’s crankshaft is responsible for powering cars.
2. Planetary Gears
Internal sensors are used to determine when the engine should change gears. Fun fact: the term planetary gears is derivative from its appearance. This is because it appears to look like a large “sun” gear in the centre of other surrounding “planet” gears. Power is derived from the engine and converted to different speeds. The gears in an automatic car form different gear ratios, these determine the speed and the engine powers your car’s wheels accordingly.
Auto gears are also a whole lot simpler compared to manual cars. You’ve got: drive, reverse, park, and neutral. Unless it’s a much older model, you might additional gears to speed up or slow down your vehicle (first, second and third gear).
3. Hydraulic Controls
As part of their hydraulic controls, auto cars contain transmission fluid which is pumped throughout the engine to control various bands and clutches, and the overall speed of the car.
This is of course a very general explanation, if you are keen to learn the ins and outs of hydraulic controls or if you know you are set on buying an auto, have a read at this comprehensive guide to understanding hydraulic controls.
Why an auto might suit you:
For starters, as mentioned, they are a lot easier to drive. Once you’ve eliminated the hassles of dealing with a clutch, all you have to control is the accelerator pedal. And, of course, the wheel!
Though driving a manual is something you could definitely get used to, most people think “why bother?” Clearly, it’s an Australian thing as 70% of Aussie drivers use automatic cars.
Sometimes certain road and driving conditions suit auto cars better too.Will you be doing a lot of city driving? Will you be getting caught in traffic a lot? It’s going to get pretty frustrating constantly changing gears and hitting the clutch. If you know you will end up driving in busy streets often through the week then automatic cars may be the better options as it is much easier to switch between gears.
Why it might not suit you:
Auto cars are more expensive. Whether you get a new one, or a second hand car, you’ll be paying more for an auto compared to a manual. While this does make sense as it is made of more expensive and complicated inner parts so it can function well as an automatic transmission, auto cars cost thousands of dollars more on average than manual cars of the same model. I guess that’s the price you have to pay for convenience. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that these if these parts have a problem and need a replacement or repair, it would also cost a lot more to get fixed than getting parts of a manual car fixed.
Another downside? If you are set with buying an automatic transmission with a limited price budget, you may have to end up buying an old model. An old model cars eat up more fuel and have poorer mileage compared to newer models. You know what that means… more $$$ spent on automatic. Simply put, buying an automatic car may not be a viable option if you have a tight budget to stick by.
If you are someone who gets easily distracted or bored. Safety may also be an issue when considering to buy an automatic transmission car. Though there are no hard statistics to show correlation between automatic cars and road accidents, there are statistics to show that people driving automatic cars find it easy to fiddle around with other things when driving as they do not have to may as much attention to switching gears than those driving manual cars. Distracted driving results in a higher chance of being in an accident. Sitting at 16% of all serious crashes on the road, distracted driving constitutes as the largest cause of collisions on the road.
Thanks to our technological devices such as our mobile phones, radio and other portable gadget, it is much harder to keep your eyes focused on the road while your phone keeps going off with notification.
How it works
In a manual transmission vehicle, the driver uses the gearbox to change the car’s speed. The gearbox will contain five or six speeds, as well as a reverse and neutral function. To change gears, the driver uses a clutch, a third pedal connecting the transmission and the engine. In a manual, the clutch transmits torque to the transmission. When you put your car into first gear, you’re setting the shifting fork into a particular spot in the output shaft, which is connected to the layshaft gear, and in turn, the input shaft of the engine. Then, a synchronising collar, which is attached to the shifting fork, sends power to the output shaft and makes sure the speed is consistent.
For a more comprehensive guide, read through this article.
Why a manual might suit you:
Well for starters, scoring a manual licence will secure you with a licence you can use for driving both automatic and manual cars. For an indecisive person, having this as an option can give you peace of mind, as you know you can always change your mind and go for automatic car down the line. Even if you do buy a manual, it doesn’t hurt to know you’d be able to handle your friend, family or partner’s automatic car.
Some people like manuals because they prefer the more involved process of driving. If you’re a bit of a car fanatic, you may be more inclined to drive a manual for the experience rather than convenience.
It’s no secret that auto parts cost considerably more than manual parts. But did you know automatic cars also expend more fuel than manual cars? A lot of this has to do with the engine itself. Automatic cars run on a more complex, not to mention heavy, engine system compared to a manual, which means they require more energy to function. Manual drivers are known to save 5% to 15% on fuel. Considering the current fuel prices, this may be the difference in deciding between automatic and manual.
Why it might not suit you:
Manual cars are slowly becoming obsolete as the popularity of automatic keeps increasing. Technology and automated devices have been replacing manual devices for decades now and it’s only a matter of time before manual cars go extinct. There aren’t many manual cars available in Australia anymore. Most brands have either stopped manufacturing manual cars, or they have streamlined it to manufacture only a certain number. According to Car Advice, the manual transmission is a dying breed with only about 400 car models available with a clutch.
More and more drivers are opting for auto due to the convenience and ease of driving it provides when navigating through inner-city congestion. Technical advancements have now also made automatic cars more economical. There are solar powered and ethanol powered cars now which are much better for the environment. Driving in a manual during peak hours is not only frustrating but can be terrifying. Different road conditions can have a big impact on the function of manual cars. For example, hilly areas are slightly more difficult to navigate in a manual. Steep hills take more fuel and man power to drive up the top. To make sure you don’t roll back, you’ll need to be confident in your gear shifting abilities. Descending isn’t any easier either. More focus and practice is also required when descending on steep roads.
A car is not just a vehicle, it is an investment. It is important to go over all the features of both a manual and automatic car, especially for a first time driver! However, once you have weighed everything in and finally made the decision, buying a car is one of the most sensational experiences ever. When you take a whiff of your new car for the first time and grab onto to steering wheel, that feeling is indescribable.