Top 5 Reasons to Choose a Stick Shift

Chances are you don’t drive a stick. Why on earth not?

5 reasons to drive a stick

Today we start our series on our preferred modes of transportation. Come back each day to find out why our writers think their method is the best (and weigh in on the topic yourself).

As a lifelong driver of manual-transmission cars, it’s with a heavy heart (and well-toned left calf) that I report the sales of stick shifts are, er, not great these days.

According to, sticks made up less than 7 percent of U.S. new-car sales as of May 2012. Compare that to, say, 1987, when they accounted for a much meatier 29 percent of that pie, and you have a drop-off so steep it’s led Time magazine to forecast the ride’s extinction.

Now, despite my own clutch-crazy bias, I admit these figures do beg the question: Does this disappearance of the automobile’s 3-pedaled progeny make sense?

In a word, pshaw! In even more words, here are the top 5 reasons why this humble stick driver thinks you should make the move to a manual.

1. Stick shifts improve fuel economy

I can’t even begin to tell you how much gas I’ve saved with stick shifts over automatics. No, really, I can’t — since I’ve only ever had a stick, I have no idea what I’ve saved. Smarter people, though, like those at Consumer Reports, tell me it’s probably a lot. According to them, stick shifts can increase fuel efficiency by 5 mpg.

What’s more, sticks accelerate faster than automatics. And since vehicles are most efficient in higher gears, timely acceleration and upshifting is crucial to getting your best gas mileage.

2. Stick shifts save you more money (‘cause that never gets old)

When it comes to car repairs, sticks have a major leg up in a key area: the transmission. Replacing the transmission on an automatic tends to run in the neighborhood of $3,000. But on a manual? Just $1,200 to $1,500.

According to Edmunds, sticks are also often cheaper to buy than automatics. The cost of a 2012 Honda Civic, for instance, shrinks by $800 when you opt for the stick version.

3. Stick shifts promote safe, non-pixilated driving

Do you want to know a huge reason I’m not tempted to use a mobile device behind the wheel? It’s because, when driving a stick, there’s simply not a limb or appendage to spare! Caught up in the interactive motoring that stick shifts demand, it becomes far less tempting (or even possible) to tweet, text, like, pin, or tag.

While educating motorists on the dangers of distracted driving is the best prevention method, getting more people behind the wheel of a manual would be, I believe, sneakily effective in its own right.

4. Stick shifts give you a sense of accomplishment

The main question I hear from people about manuals is usually “Is it hard to drive a stick?”  Well, in the immortal words of the great Jimmy Dugan: “It’s the hard that makes it great.”

OK, in all seriousness, learning to drive stick is far easier than it’s often made out to be. But it does take a bit of determination. And, really, isn’t that a good thing? When the ability to drive doesn’t come so easily, aren’t we less likely to take that activity for granted later?

So let me dispel any false hope: when you start learning stick, you’re going to stall (repeatedly). You’re going to get flustered with the shift knob (repeatedly). You’re going to stop-and-start your way around the cul-de-sac more than the ice cream man. And then … it will all click, and you’ll be grateful for every second of it. (Or you’ll mentally collapse and never pick up a set of car keys again, but still.)

5. Stick shifts are way more fun

While saving money, cutting down fuel use, and promoting undistracted driving are all stellar benefits, I have to come clean: they’re also secondary. The chief reason I prefer manuals is, well, they’re just a blast to drive!

Faster acceleration and gentler braking? Check. More control and a sense of oneness with the road? Check. A cure for restless-leg syndrome? I have to confirm with our doctors but … check. A way to get excited about driving every day? Check and mate!     

Still need more convincing? Learn what my stick shift and I accomplished together.

Check back tomorrow to see why my colleague thinks you should drive an automatic … as if.

125 Responses to “Top 5 Reasons to Choose a Stick Shift”

  1. Dan Callahan
    January 15, 2013 #

    Also, less likely to be stolen – fewer manual transmission cars mean fewer crooks know how to drive them and there's less of a resale market for them.

    • Robert
      July 18, 2013 #

      You failed to mention that for towing there is nothing better. I drive professionally and would not be caught dead driving a fully loaded tractor trailer with an automatic.

      Manual transmissions also allow for better engine braking instead of having to rely strictly on your brakes.

      I would rather use the compression brake and down shift my 18 speed transmission with 80,000 pounds behind me over just using my brakes which can fade and become useless once hot.

  2. David
    January 15, 2013 #

    All true except the fuel milage improvment. Although true as little as 3 years ago with the development of these new 6,7,and 8 speed automatics the auto trans has finally surpassed the manual in fuel milage gains. That being said I will stick with a stick because its gonna cost any fuel savings plus some when you have to replace that 8speed trans at 110k and us stick drivers are maybe doing our first clutch to the tune of 6-800.

    • Jluan
      February 13, 2013 #

      8 gears just to equal the gas mileage of a 5 speed manual…no wonder they HAVE to use a turbo to get any kind of acceleration out of a power-train setup like that.

    • y_p_w
      February 20, 2013 #

      The biggest thing is the lockup torque converter on the freeway. It might not compensate for the increased weight though.

      In addition to that, many autos are now computer controlled to shift later to improve fuel economy. Translation: gutless acceleration unless you stomp hard on the pedal enough that you can destroy the transmission if you do it often enough.

    • paul b.
      July 9, 2013 #

      I own my first stick back in 1982 it was a Nissan Maxima! What a blast to drive and I lived in San Francisco back then. I simply loved driving it!

    • Paul
      January 20, 2014 #

      Then the reality of it is, a stick shift is still more economic with money. The manual transmission has less centrifugal loss and therefore uses less energy to move the tires. Plus the newer manual transmissions are getting more gears as well making them more fuel economic then their counterpart, for example the t56 put into the Firebird in 2001. The t56 6speed can give that V8 the ability (depending on the drivers driving) to get 30+ mpg. The drivers driving is also more likely to be a reason for early clutch repair too, I've been driving on the same clutch in my car for a little over a year now and it's been fine, and I'm not sure how long it's been in there because the car is used. The clutch can be expensive but you can shop around on eBay making it a do it yourself job for about 300 give or take.

  3. Eric
    January 15, 2013 #

    Not only is it cheaper to replace a manual than an automatic, its far less likely that you ever will need to replace a Manual Transmission because they are simpler so less parts to break down and thus more durable. At most you may need to replace a clutch, and again that's rare.

    • y_p_w
      February 20, 2013 #

      I've had to fix a manual. Stalled in reverse and a gear tooth sheared off as well as several cracked gear teeth. The guy who repaired it couldn't find a used one and rebuilt it with a new gear. Said he'd never seen reverse break before and that straight cut gears are stronger.

      I've got the gear sitting in a drawer.

      • WB
        March 21, 2013 #

        Straight cut gears are not as strong as helical gears. Helical gears distribute a load across several teeth, where as a straight cut gear has only one tooth bearing the load. The guy is wrong.

      • Hugh
        June 6, 2013 #

        Actually the mechanic is correct. The helical gears are inherently weaker but are much more quiet than a straight cut gear. Most delivery trucks and cube vans use tranny cases out of light duty trucks but they pack them with straight cut gears to handle the extra loads put on them.

      • Matt Kenney
        September 22, 2013 #

        WB & YPW. I am afield service technician for an Industrial gear supplier. Hugh is quite correct in saying helical bevel gears are much stronger than straight cut gears as long as they are made of the same material (carbon steel vs. carbon steel, etc.) In helical gears the axial & tensile strengths are much greater due to the load being distributed over a much larger area. Also, due to their being more grooves in contact at the same time, this ends up making the travel much smoother cutting down on vibrations & play in the gears.

  4. Jason
    January 16, 2013 #

    Manual transmission is the way to go. Aside from fuel savings… If you are a seasoned stick driver and utilize engine braking with normal braking, you can easily get 100k+ on a set of brake pads. I have 125k on my vehicle and pad life is at 50% front to back. If you don't ride the clutch, it can last the life of the vehicle too. My previous car had 180k w/ the original clutch before I gave it away to a family member.

  5. Sharone
    January 16, 2013 #

    I learned on an automatic, but my first car is a manual, and I will never go back. It's definitely more complicated to maneuver places like Dallas freeways with a manual, but it's FUN. I get 33mpg out of my little Ford Ranger and I love the way I am so much more in touch with the whole driving experience. Also, in the process of learning how to drive it, I got interested in learning how everything worked, which sort of led naturally to doing my own mechanic work (that and the fact that I couldn't find a decent, honest, affordable mechanic).. and now I'm hooked. The guys down at O'Reillys are happy to teach me just about anything I want although they did laugh at me when I first came in and said I was going to change my own starter. I think it had something to do with me being a girl, although I can't imagine how that would make a difference. Each time I came in for advice or parts (one of the electrical connections was 'rotted' out), they got more and more serious and genuinely helpful. And that Orange hand cleaner is the best stuff ever, by the way! :)

  6. Dot
    January 17, 2013 #

    In those emergencies when you have a dead battery, you can push start a manual transmission. This can come in particularly handy when you are 8 months pregnant and come out of the shopping center to discover you left your lights on and your battery is dead. Plenty of helpful people out there to push the car for you! Just saying………..

  7. Tom W.
    January 19, 2013 #

    I am a retired mechanic with 40 years of experience. I'd like to add my 2 cents. In many cases manual transmissions don't improve fuel economy. That will depend on your driving conditions, how you drive and the particular vehicle in question. Often there is little to no difference.
    The improvements to our automobiles during my career have been incredible. In most cases the automatic transmission in late model cars will probably last the life of the car if properly maintained. The standard clutch however, has changed very little over the years an will probably need to be replaced 2 or 3 times during the life of a car at significant expense.
    As far as safety, your mama always told you to keep both hands on the wheel.
    To me, there is really only one reason to have a car with a manual transmission and that is personal preference.

    • Paul
      May 11, 2013 #

      My momma never said that…she drives a 5 speed just like my daddy. Clutches are not that significant of an expense-the shop I work at charges 500 for a clutch. Unless you don't know how to drive stick, a clutch will last the life of the car. You get better acceleration and hill climbing with a stick, because you don't have to spin 6-7 quarts of heavy liquid. This also taxes the engine. I live on a steep hill and constantly hear the sressive screaming

    • Jeff
      June 15, 2013 #

      Life of a clutch is depenant on how it is used, pretty much like other componets on the automobile. Someone who rides the clutch, or who does mostly city start / stop driving on a consistant basis is obviously going to need to replace the pressure plate, clutch disk and throwout bearing more frequently than someone who does all highway or a moderate mix.

      I really hate that on my last vehicle purchase I had to get an automatic simply becase they don't build the vehicle I wanted to buy with a stick. It should be the buyers choice, even if we sitck drivers have to pay more.

      Car makers dont really care to hear from the end consumer, they just build what is most commonly sold as the indicator of what people want. Of course car dealers dont order many low end basic "strip down" models becase their profit margins are lower.

      Personally I prefer stick shifts, hand crank windows, manual locks….you get the picture. Which is why one of my favorite vehicles is my jeep wrangler. There's nothing there that is not neccesary, pure function.

    • Sydney Jay
      January 20, 2014 #

      I've driven sticks all my life. I've personally owned two. Got to more than 140,000 miles on my first before it got totaled. It had the original clutch when it died. My second, which I still have, has 130,000 miles on it, and I'm still on the original clutch (though it'll probably conk out tomorrow now that I'm on here bragging). If you don't ride the clutch, you should never need to replace it. If you're not shifting, you should either be in gear or in neutral.

  8. Monte
    January 20, 2013 #

    I learned how to drive in a 2 1/2 ton stock truck with a 4 spd manual upper and lower gears! Count 'em, with reverse, that's 10 total gears (8 forward and 2 reverse)! Dad is really proud that I have never burned out a clutch too! From sports cars to large heavy duty trucks, manual is the way to go!

    • Just truckin
      May 2, 2013 #

      I learned to drive on the farm at 6 years old and then moved onto the big trucks at 10 years. The truck was a 47 kenworth with. 5500 gallon water tank on it and it had two transmissions in line (main box and brownie box) main trans had 15 gears and the brownie had 4 gears, then I had a two speed rearend, So how many possible gears did I have to choose from at 10 years old? 15x4x2= 120 and how many reverse gears? 4×2=8 hahahaha not bad for a busy little 10 year old. And this was not out in Iowa somewhere but right here California just south of San Jose back in 1985.

  9. Sandra
    January 28, 2013 #

    honestly none of these are really true, some opinions, other's false or questionable. For number 1, now a days most automatics have noticeably higher fuel economy than their MT counterparts, to the tune of 2-4MPG. For 2 yeah, it's more expensive to replace an AT than an MT, but an MT tends to take more abuse and requires more frequent repairs, particular to replace the clutch. Number 3, yes and no, sure you aren't playing with your phone, but people driving stick shifts tend to drive more aggressively and often don't have both hands on the wheel, both of which are dangerous. 4 & 5, well those are just straight up opinions

    • y_p_w
      February 20, 2013 #

      Manuals almost never need repairs for breakdowns, but clutches are wear parts like brakes and tires. That bring said, I've had to fix a manual, but the mechanic was stunned that it had broken.

    • Dakota
      April 4, 2013 #

      I don't mean to be rude but all your statements are either wrong or made up. Manuel does in fact get better mpg, I mean it ain't just 1 person saying they do its flat out testing. Clutches just like another person said are like brakes and tires its maintenance plus if you don't abuse them I bet you won't ever have to change them in the average time a person keeps a new car. As for both hands on the wheel honestly if your gonna wreck by the time you switch from 2nd to 3rd having 2 hands on the wheel ain't gonna help. Plus the correct way is to place your hand back on the wheel after every shift, people don't do this cause its annoying but people with autos are more likely to be to relaxed then someone diving a Manuel. Don't get me wrong you should be relaxed but not too the point you have your seat laid back one hand on the wheel cruise control on and eyes fading into dream land.

    • John
      October 3, 2013 #

      actually #1 is wrong; the difference is usually about 1 mpg. I checked a number of 2013 cars to arrive at that average. #2 MT does not take more abuse, nor more frequent repairs; those are just your own opinions. Folks who beat a manual or automatic vehicle will beat them regardless so your argument isn't valid. A clutch can easily last 150K in todays vehicles if driven properly. that isn't an opinion – its based on research. #3 partial agreement; less distracted with Manual, no factual basis that people driving stick are more aggressive. Aggressive driving is actually more common in automatic cars simply because there are MORE AUTOMATIC cars. It isn't the type of car, it's the type of DRIVER. Fact, not opinion. Easily verified. #4 and #5 can easily be proven via the research manufacturers have themselves conducted for years. Automatics were not invented to make it easier for people to drive. Automatics were invented in order to sell MORE cars. Hence the research into what people's preferences, sense of accomplishment was, etc. Therefore, both #4 ad #5 are valid statements.

  10. Alec
    February 10, 2013 #

    I admire the passion for le olde stick shift, I myself never having owned an automatic either, but please…please call the car for what it truly is. A manual transmission. The over usage of stick shift is dorky and usually reserved for the newly appointed shifting fanatics. Those with tenure know it is called a manual. Technically a semi-auto (fill in blank with manufacturer specific transmission technology name) is a stick shift. Shift into +/- mode and you're using a stick to shift…but it'll never be a manual. And thank God for that. :)

    • Mary Franzenburg
      March 6, 2013 #

      I thought the real word for stick shift was standard transmission….btw, love to drive a "manual", I have done so as much as possible. Another advantage is that nobody asks to borrow your vehicle BC they don't know how to drive it. I've always thought ppl'were funny who say driving a stick is so impossible. Its such a simple concept. Plus if your a girl who drives a stick, its a man-magnet.

      • Scott
        March 14, 2013 #

        I bought a 2011 Camaro with a manual transmission. My kids never ask to borrow it because they can't drive it! And nothing beats the fun of a six-speed stick when rolling through Mulholland Canyon and other twisty back roads.

      • Bill Lumbergh
        March 22, 2013 #

        haha, I never knew how to drive manual until my pops got a BMW. It made me want to take his car even more often! I laugh at folks who say their kids won't want to borrow the car, it SHOULD make them even more likely to take it for a spin.

  11. I had one and never will again
    February 13, 2013 #

    These two reasons reasons actually happened to me. I've had two major injuries in my life: if you fracture your wrist, or any part if your arm, good luck shifting. How about a broken ankle, or even just an ankle twist. It sucks. Clutches are expensive to fix. How about a trip somewhere and you get stuck driving the entire time because nobody else can drive a stick? Everyone should learn for that reason alone. Travel outside North America and its all manual transmission. But it's pointless to own. It's fun learning to drive one, but it's not fun once you have been doing it for a couple months. Traffic and hills aren't nearly as bad as everyone tries to make them sound, however, it's just easier with an auto. You could negotiate the price on a new car and it wouldn't cost extra anyway.

    • Natalie
      May 4, 2013 #

      I just learned how to drive a manual in September of 2012. It took me two days. I have loved it ever since and have no plans on returning to an automatic unless I have some sort of unfortunate injury & that is only temporary. Car repairs are expensive period. That's not enough of an excuse to make me go back. I get 5mpg better than my mom who drives the same car as an auto. I drive safer and far less aggressively in a manual because I have to constantly be paying attention to the road, even with cruise control. Unlike an auto you can't just stomp on the breaks. You have to be active in your driving. I find it to be a far better option.

  12. Jluan
    February 13, 2013 #

    Great article.

    Driving with 1 hand on the wheel is not dangerous unless you are just physically weak, in which case I am sure even pushing the clutch in will hurt your scrawny little legs.

    Almost every sports-car comes in a manual or with pad-shifters which are just an automated manual. Some sports cars only come this way. Manual transmission also allows for way more control over the car. It isn't just about gas mileage; it's about controlling your rpm's and engine load into/out of turns. It's about having better control over launch, acceleration, braking, and consequently, over cornering.

    There are some automatics that are barely rivaling or surpassing their manual counterparts, but they certainly aren't the norm. These cars make use of over-extended gear boxes, meaning poor acceleration sans the presence of forced induction. So, take your pick between sluggish driving or the hassles and costs of maintaining a boost setup.

    • funyuns
      March 18, 2013 #

      And even if it is hard, you adapt. My scrawny little (upper) right arm was sore for weeks when learning to drive a manual, then of course it went away on its own the more I drove.

    • Ah
      September 19, 2013 #

      Hilarious! I learned to drive a stick at 14 weighing a whopping 96 lbs. Perhaps I can serve as encouragement for those who fear the complexity and brute strength required to master these automotive beasts. I also knew how to pop a clutch with my girlfriends pushing in high heels and church dresses when the battery died. ;)

  13. cg
    February 14, 2013 #

    Been driving manual cars for 50 years, wouldn't have it any other way. Started with a 3 speed on the column, then 4, 5 and now a 6 speed, fuel economy is far higher and repair costs are far lower with a standard (manual) trans than identical models of the same vehicle with an automatic. Automatic transmissions are heavy that adds to lower gas mileage. Just look at manufacturers specs on mileage differences, there you go! Drivability in the winter is far better because you have better control on ice and snow; ex: you can down shift to slow down instead of hitting the brakes and skidding, you can feather the clutch for more control. You can start out in a higher gear to spin the tires slowly when you get stuck, try that with an automatic! Besides there is the fun factor of being directly connected to all that horsepower that you can downshift in a turn, counter steer and zoom away fast. Don't be a zombie buy a standard trans car! Unless, of course you want to be a clone of all the other boring auto rides out there.

    • Kyle
      March 16, 2013 #

      '03 Toy Highlander – auto w crappy mileage (AWD + V6) but saved me when I blew out a lumbar disc and couldn't shift my '98 Audi A4 (201K mi 5-speed Manual) for a month. Cost $800 at dealer (broke down only a mile away) to repair hydraulic boost to the clutch just recently – the first major prob EVER w the Audi (¿ a miracle some would say ?). So for the cost of 2-3 new car payments she's up and running again and I'm expecting another 70k miles (replace the timing belt again or chuck it all by then?). Had to roll-start my 5speed CRX when I was too poor for a new battery way back. Also drove manual Rabbit w left foot, hand-brake, judicious following distances and intersection-timing w a full leg cast on my right. Stupid in retrospect – but makes a good story. Wife's techno heavy '09 Hybrid Highlander is a geek fantasy but accel and brakes like a drunken sailor. So I love my manual, but I'll admit I broke down and splurged for a completely auto hydrostatic tranny on my new tractor, so much easier to mow efficiently!

  14. John
    February 21, 2013 #

    #s 3, 4, and 5.. are completely ridiculous. Especially since, sitting or driving in heavy traffic (or 'stop and go' traffic) is a nightmare with a stick shift. Heavy traffic will kill your buzz especially if you are on a longer drive.
    However, the first comment about less car thieves being interested cuz they dont know how to drive it is a good point. ;)

  15. Joseph Hall
    February 21, 2013 #

    Ever since I learned how to drive a stick shift in 2003 I have never wanted to drive an automatic again. I was forced to for a few years when my car died on me, but as soon as I could I got back in a stick shift car and I never looked back. Stick for life here.

  16. Zuriea Rogers
    February 23, 2013 #

    I love what I still call standard transmissions except in San Francisco. At stop signs on the sides of those cliffs in Pacific Heights you need 3 feet – one for each pedal.
    Otherwise yes! Standard, manual, non-automatic equals mote fun.

    • Nicholas Keen
      June 22, 2013 #

      American drivers with manuals consistently roll backwards when they engage gear at a red light turning green because they are not trained in the proper use of the hand brake. That would be an immediate fail on the UK test for "failing to maintain full control of the vehicle at all times".

  17. LinM
    February 24, 2013 #

    My mom taught me to drive on a car that her father had bought new, a '38 Plymouth. So I learned that manual shifting (and throttle & choke adjustments) were normal. My foray into automatics nearly cost me my life (driving them is minimally involving), so I've stayed safe with manuals ever since.

  18. Tom
    March 8, 2013 #

    I drove a stick for years the only time I hated it was when I was driving in the snow in Heavy traffic! My left leg hurt for hours afterwards One thing I do miss is I now have a ford Explorer While it is nice I love it but too much Automatic stuff like the 4wheel drive a lot of people think it is nice just to reach up and turn a switch and be in 4×4 mode. I prefer the old 2 speed manual with a 4 speed transmission you want power for climbing off road take a 4 speed drop it in 1st (Granny) in 4 low and you got power that you do not even think you had! To the person who drove the 5 speed with two speed you do not have a high and low in the transmission what you were driving was a 5 speed transmission with a 2 speed rear end!

  19. Martino
    March 9, 2013 #

    Great article, all valid points, not sure about that comment about theives not stealing your car because he doesnt know how to drive stick shift, please if hes good enough to steal your car, trust me he will drive away with it, ever since i was a young boy i was always interested and intrigued by the mechanics of cars, engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, all the moving parts of an automobile, with that being said, got my first car, parents wouldnt let me get it in manual transmission, so i got stuck with an auto, sold the car bought the same car in manaula trans and when you drive a stick shift car your more in tune with the car, the road your surroundings, you have the ability to use engine breaking and your brakes, the fact of being stuck in traffic in a stick shift car isnt bad, i live in miami, traffic is bad every where you go, what i love the most of driving a stick shift car is that i am control, if i want to feel the car i just drop the hammer down and get into the cornering and pull out of the turn fast as possible, i have three cars, two project race cars and ive torn down and rebuilt the trans just to ensure i can rag on it and its super easy and cheaper, whats a clutch gonna set you back 2-300 dollars??? STICK SHIFT FOR THE WIN!

  20. bob
    March 14, 2013 #

    Drove a manual for 40 years. Bought a subaru impreza recently. It has a fabulous continuously variable autotranny, with better mileage than the stick. Commutes are so much easier. Still get engine breaking with paddle shifters. Merging into fast traffic is easier. I love it and won't turn back.

  21. jacob
    March 22, 2013 #

    1998 Honda civic hx
    298, 789 milles on the odo.
    Still gets 32mpg average and on the same clutch it was born with.
    Still rides like a champ!

    2009 civic hybrid automatic trans took a shit before 100k milles got 38mpg average. $6,500 to replace.

    Ill never go back to an automatic. ..

  22. dwever
    March 30, 2013 #

    "Automatics have evolved past manuals in efficiency and performance. I think the disparity will continue to grow," said Craig Renneker, Ford's chief transmission engineer. "There are many things we can still do to improve automatics, but manual transmissions are already close to optimal." Renneker said he thinks that the new 2011 5.0-liter V-8 Mustang "has one of the best manuals on earth. But at this point, we don't know what else to do to improve it," he said.

    In the end all the old reasons of going manual seem to be either gone or going. As the engineers at Car Talk said, "There are no good economic or mechanical reasons to choose a manual over an automatic anymore. So be as shiftless as you like." (also listing very well known supercars including some Ferraris, Lamborginis and Bentleys not even available in manual).

    Technologies like direct shifting technology (DST). DST offers extremely precise shifting that requires only 8 milliseconds; by comparison, we are shifting our manuals at 500 – 700 milliseconds!

  23. PeninaD
    April 2, 2013 #

    I miss driving stick…sure gave me something to do during rush hour traffic in NYC (admittedly, that was hell on my clutch plates). But after my back injury 23 years ago where the nerve damage made one leg weak, I had to move to automatic. Tried stick a few times since then…I still have the knack!

  24. Jedd
    April 3, 2013 #

    I'm a baby boomer and I learned to drive a stick the way so many of my generation did – on a VW Beetle. I married a girl who's a devoted MT fan and, except for a couple unusual situations where we had no choice, all of our cars have been manuals. When it came time for our son to start taking driving lessons, we decided that just dealing with the traffic in our area was enough of a burden while learning to drive; he didn't need to struggle with a clutch and a shifter too. So we hired a private instructor to give him lessons on an automatic. After two weeks of lessons on an automatic, he told me he wanted to learn to drive my car. The first couple lessons were rough but he stuck with it and mastered it. I still had him take the road test with the instructor's automatic, but that was the last time he ever drove an automatic.

    My current car is a 2012 Subaru Outback with a 6-speed. Everything about it is well-made, high-quality, smooth, and refined, but it just doesn't capture the manual driving experience the way the pre-2010 models did. It's fairly clear that Subaru wants to phase out the manual on the Outback. There are fewer of them on the dealer's lots, and they're mostly low-end models. You can't even get some of the high-end features that you could last year. I guess I can understand why they're doing this. The dealer pretty much gave me the all-weather package and the Harman Kardon sound system for free, which tells me they knew the car would be very hard to sell.

    My prediction: To placate us die-hards, car makers will offer an electronic clutch and shifter. It will feel sort of like the real thing, and the computer will do what it thinks you meant to do. Since there's no mechanical linkage, it will be dealer installable. Just bolt the clutch pedal to the floor and connect a cable to the computer. It will take some innovation to produce a shifter that goes through the gears but still has a simple PRNDL mode that won't confuse everyone else. As for me, once you take away the experience of really working the gears and the clutch, the whole driving experience will no longer be interesting. I'll then be ready for a Google car that does all the driving for me so I can do other things while the car is moving.

  25. Al
    April 18, 2013 #

    I'm so used to driving a stick I don't even think about it. My body is automatic. It's just muscle memory that's all. Better control, matching rpms with gear selection, quicker acceleration. Lighter weight, easier to overhaul, and in a pinch I can push start the car if my battery or starter dies on me. Also I like the engine braking effect so I never go flying down/off a hill. But overall it's the simplicity, acceleration and control. In a VW GTI VR6 Turbo there's nothing like it. It's a spaceship!

  26. charlie
    April 25, 2013 #

    Everyone should at least know how to drive a stick. How many horror shows are there where the person trying to get away hops in a car and freaks to find its a stck.

  27. Thomas Weatherly
    April 27, 2013 #

    Stick shifts increase safety because if you don't have the coordination to use a stick shift you should not drive a vehicle. Even if you don't use a stick shift the driving test should be given with a stick shift; it will eliminate people without the coordination to drive. I also suggest that states, cities, and counties build and maintain public transport for those without engine vehicles; in addition add or increase bicycle paths for folk too fearful to use the roads. Motorists should be educated about the fact that cyclists represent fewer

  28. Thomas Weatherly
    April 27, 2013 #

    Motorists should be educated about the fact that cyclists represent fewer folk competing for gas and in a truly free market – doesn't really exist – the demand down lowers price.

  29. Todd ziegler
    May 24, 2013 #

    I agree absolutely with this article 100 %. Everyone should at least learn how to drive on a stick..( preference, ) it makes you a better driver. You know what else will make you a better driver? Ride a motorcycle….you talk about making you more aware of and in tune with the road!
    When you do get back on 4 wheels…you're a much more attentive driver. The great majority of bike accidents are the fault of drivers……not riders

  30. Courtnei
    June 11, 2013 #

    I have driving a stick for almost 8 years and I love it. Stick shifts in my opinion are just better than automatics. They're faster, better on gas, and not everyone will drive your car. I drive an 07 Honda Civic 5 speed and I love my car. Nothing like a stick shift.

  31. Graeme
    June 14, 2013 #

    I drive a 2005 Hyundai Tiburon SE, and oh man, Hyundai has made some serious strides in quality execution in the last decade or so. I have owned several sticks, and drove my moms late 90s Stealth and Mustang, and there is no comparison. I look forward to getting a genesys very soon.

  32. Brklyn Mind
    June 14, 2013 #

    I have owned nothing but manual transmissions for the last 2 decades but alas regardless of how much I prefer manual transmissions, I am fairly certain that my manual days (and everyone elses) are coming to an end. It is exceedingly difficult to find any car other than the lowest end models with a manual. And I am sure that even economy cars will soon all be equipped with automatic or cvt transmission

  33. Cardinal
    June 14, 2013 #

    The problem with manual transmissions is that manufacturers like Honda will not honor the warranty on them.

  34. crashq
    June 17, 2013 #

    Reason number one is no longer true.. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of manual transmissions and all my vehicles have been equipped with them except my most recent vehicle (because it was not offered with a manual transmission).

    If you simply look at the mileage ratings for manual equipped vehicles versus the same model equipped with an automatic transmission, you will see that automatics get better mileage, and fior the most part equal (or beat) the acceleration of the manual transmissions (except maybe in the hands of professional race drivers) . Gone are the days of sloppy torque converters. With the added horsepower of modern injected multi-valve per cylinder engines, overdrive, and new technology such as lock-up torque converters, vehicles equipped with modern automatics are nothing like the similarly equipped vehicles of old. This is an outdated reason. That doesn't mean that I still won't buy manual transmission-equiipped vehicles.

    • Natalie
      June 17, 2013 #

      I find this to be false. My mom and I both own the Fiat 500. She owns the automatic while I have a manual. I get consistently better gas mileage and it was sold to me that I would.

      • crashq
        June 25, 2013 #

        Nicholas, how can you male such a blanket statement about all American drivers? True the hand brake can be used to make it easier to go forward from a dead stop from a stoplight on hills but there is no excuse to use it except on steep hills. A skilled driver can start from a stop on even steep hills without rolling back. I live in the SF Bay areas and can do that on the steeper hills in SF. If I can do it so can most other drivers. All it takes is practice.

  35. crashq
    June 25, 2013 #

    Natalie of course there are exceptions like your car. The overall fuel economy depends on the exact options on each car and the design of the transmission and engine. Automatics and manual transmission sometimes have widely varying gear ratios. One might be geared more for sporty driving

    Also, the overall mileage is dependent on the driver's driving style, the route taken, and environmental conditions so you cannot necessarily compare two driver's directly unless they drive the same speed on the same routes. If you go to you can look at the EPA mileage ratings. In the case of your car the manual is rated for slightly better mileage.

    My point is that it isn't a given that manual transmissions s get better gas mileage. Someone in the automotive industry should know this. They shouldn't be allowed to published information that clearly is not true.

  36. that guy
    June 26, 2013 #

    I think one thing that wasn't covered is that in a manual transmission that has a drive by cable (not wire) setup on the accelerator, you use litterally no gas at all when using the engine to brake. Couple that with not using your brakes as much and you can easily double the life of your pads and save tons on gas. I've driven roughly 15 vehicles in the 5 years I've been driving mixed between an automatic 96 civic, an automatic 06 4runner, a 5 speed 91 240sx, and a 78 Corvette with the 4speed. And I have to say, even the worst stick I've ever driven (my 240sx) and the best automatic I've ever driven (05 Mercedes clk320) there is no comparison. The manual is just a better drive. It keeps you focused on the task you should be paying attention to. and it keeps your stupid friends from trying to borrow your car. Even though my fiancee cant drive manual it bothers me none at at all (even on the 12 plus hour car trips with no cruise control). I'm very disappointed in new car manufacturers not offering manual transmission vehicles and to that point, the government for not offering an incentive or tax writeoff for those who drive one as the accident rates for manual transmission drivers who are distracted are nearly zero as compared to those who drive automatics. I will never buy an automatic so long as I live for the fear of losing touch with the 3000lb hunk of metal I move at 70mph amongst others.

  37. that guy
    June 26, 2013 #

    Oh, and I forgot to add, the 95 accord I drive daily in the stop and go traffic of the city is currently at 150,000 miles and still on the original clutch with 50% of the material left. And if I ever have to replace it in the future (which I doubt will happen with my tuned left foot) I can do the job myself for less than $150. flywheel, throwout bearing, clutch disk, fluids and all. How's that for added maintenance costs?

  38. Nita MAy Stolns
    July 9, 2013 #

    Being born on a farm I learned to drive a truck first with two backward gears… I did like the Manual, but now being a senior and having medical conditions with my knees I can no longer drive a stick.. I prefer a stick but my knees tell me 'no' . I get into bumper to bumper traffic and with the stop and go my knees really hurt.. I do however, agree that I like stick the best… I didn't realize it until I inherited my dads pick-up when he passed…

  39. Fred
    July 25, 2013 #

    I recently looked at a used Subaru with a 5 speed, when I told my wife about it, she said "Oh that would be great, then I could drive on the expressway again."
    She had learned on a stick, and scared herself by trying to shift an automatic, and trying to throw it into reverse. The experience made her refuse to drive on limited access highways.
    We haven't bought the stick car yet, but I'm convinced. It will also make it so we (she will) have 2 use the right foot 4 the brake.
    I cringe when I think about that. So standard shift IS the answer!!!!!

  40. Bob
    August 2, 2013 #

    The last manual I had was a Honda Accord, and the hand brake was next to the gear shift. I now drive an Avalon with an automatic and the parking brake is engaged by pushing on a pedal with my left foot, which locks when I stop adding pressure.

    One night years ago I was driving my daughter and several of her friends to a Girl Scout meeting in my old Honda when my brakes completely failed. Because I had driven the manual for years I reflexively began to downshift and to use the handbrake to stop. Because it was a natural response I did not panic and therefore scare the young girls. The next day I was able to drive the car to my mechanic using the manual and the hand brake. I am convinced this would be nearly impossible in my current car.

  41. Ross Taormina
    August 11, 2013 #

    I agree that manual transmissions are more fun to drive, but if you do a lot of stop start driving in town, an auto is much easier. If you check the mileage figures for a new Mustang, you will find the auto has better gas mileage than the stick for both v6 and v8 models.
    But if you have a sports car, it must be a stick if you want to enjoy driving it. No dought about it. Imagine driving an RX7 with auto transmission. It would suck. Driving my F-150 work truck without auto transission would suck too. Some cars are more enjoyable as stick shifts and some are better as an auto.

  42. Jimma
    August 18, 2013 #

    I own a 66 Impala SS with a 4 speed manual transmission. I also own a number of vans with automatics, mostly my company work vans. My daily driver is a late model Dodge Hemi pickup, an automatic. I prefer the automatic when driving the pickup. Its not a work truck, so I don't heed the gears. I have to say, a clutch & 4 speed Muncie in a vintage American muscle car, especially a big old Impala, just makes driving it a blast! Everyone hears it coming, going through the gears, down shifting down hills and up to stop signs. The stick shift in a muscle car simply makes it more fun to drive, & it saves wear on brake shoes & pads. The stick shift transmission does have its advantages, but in my case, saving fuel isn't one of them. But when just driving to or for work, or going shopping, or especially long trips, an automatic transmission makes driving much more comfortable. Either way, common sense prevails whatever you drive.

  43. George Str
    September 15, 2013 #

    My first car was a stick. Drove it home from the dealer, stalled out once. Piece of cake. The best way to learn is put it in 1st and let out the clutch slowly (no gas) so you get the feel of where it engages. Do it in an empty parking lot tho.

  44. Alex Chettiath
    October 26, 2013 #

    I have a feeling that manual transmissions are going to go away because of bad marketing. There are not a lot of auto commercials that commercialize manual transmission and the availability of manuals is low. It is like the companies are forcing us to buy automatics. Dodge ram comes with a manual, only if it is a diesel and only on certain models too. Just have it on every car and everyone can get the car they want. There are a lot of cars that I want to have that comes with a manual and I am stuck to certain trims. I drive a 2012 Mazda3 five door, skyactiv 6-speed manual.

  45. Mick
    November 4, 2013 #

    I purchased a stick shift car for my daughter in high school, none of her friends can drive it.

  46. Matthew
    November 7, 2013 #

    Here's a reason I don't see mentioned elsewhere. Ever interested in taking a road trip through Europe (or many other places in the world outside the U.S.)? Better know how to drive a manual. It truly is the standard elsewhere.

    • BobK
      December 21, 2013 #

      Matt is right. If you rent a car in Europe, an automatic will cost twice as much, and they'll laugh at you behind the counter. There are a couple of extra quirks with European manuals, but with the extra cost of gas, it's the way to go.

  47. Amore
    November 9, 2013 #

    Some of these are true and some aren't. 1. Its true that manuals are less experience however, its not true that they accelerate faster. I drive a 2011 ford fiesta 5 speed and its as slow as molasses! I miss my Chevy 2005 Malibu that went from 0 to 60 in 2.5. 2. You can use your phone just as well as an automatic driver, if you honestly know how to drive without being completely distracted. 3. Manuals DO NOT brake as easily as an automatic unless you take your foot off the clutch immediately which in the end will ultimately mess up your clutch. 4. No one knows how to drive a stick shift anymore so in the event i have an emergency (which has happened) no, one can drive my car so im stuck like chuck! In closing, I hate driving a stick shift and can't wait to go back to an automatic.

  48. Amore
    November 9, 2013 #


  49. abt
    November 14, 2013 #

    With the newer double clutch transmission cars…the automatics are killing the manual trans cars. Look at the high end sports cars…none of them are manual anymore. Cars also have up to 8 speeds transmissions…you want to row through the gears that much?

    • Dr. Read
      February 5, 2014 #

      Well actually I like the 7-sp manual in my 2014 Corvette. I do love rowing through those gears and seeing many more expensive performance cars in my rear view mirror. I average 24mpg city/hwy comb. Not bad for 460hp

  50. Jaminit
    December 21, 2013 #

    Cruse control works worlds better with a manual. No down shifting on every little hill!

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