What advantage does an automatic transmission have over manual transmission?

Advantages of an automatic transmission car (Applies mainly to United States):

  1. Easier to buy. At least in the United States, you have to look a bit to find a manual transmission vehicle. You can’t throw a rock without hitting an automatic.
  2. Easier to sell. A lot of Americans can’t drive stick or can but don’t care to. Everybody can drive automatic. Larger pool of potential buyers.
  3. You can loan it to your friend/significant other who can’t drive a stick.
  4. (dubious benefit) Increased ability to text, talk, eat, read, apply makeup, and do all the other things besides driving that so many people like to do when they drive.

10 Replies to “What advantage does an automatic transmission have over manual transmission?”

  1. The most obvious advantage: You do not have to bother with shifting. It is far easier and less exhausting to drive a car with automatic gearbox than a manual car.

    In the recent years some technical advantages came in addition:

    • Some modern automatic gearboxes have 8 or more gears, so they can adapt very closely to the actual driving situation. This is almost impossible to handle manually.
    • Drivetrains which contain hybrid drive need an automatic gearbox to work properly.
    • If you look for ultra efficient drivetrain concepts, a computer may be more efficient than a human driver. Concepts like “Sailing” (the car switches off the engine when there is no need for engine power) do not work properly without a sophisticated transmission.
    • An automatic sequential gearbox can shift faster than a human. Therefore most contemporary supercars have semi automatic gearboxes.
  2. Let me add some serious stuff here. With automatics it’s much easier to up a very slippery and rough hill.

    Yes, it’s right. Automatic can be better for off-road in some circumstances.

    I learned this when switched from automatic Nissan Navara to manual Ford Ranger.

    I live up the hills with dirt road going up. In some times of a year, the rain destroys the road so much that a safe speed going up would be 3–4 km/h. Sometimes going nearly zero to negotiate some large bump.

    Good luck doing it on manual. Even in 4L (low gear), with clutch engaged I have to go faster then a wanted not to let engine stall.

    If you try to play clutch – you’d basically burn it because it’s not designed for traveling. The only solution is to brace for bumps and hope my suspension can handle it. It bring me home faster though.

    With automatic and it’s torque converter it’s easy to go at nearly zero kph, negotiating bump as slow as I want. I didn’t even need low gear for this.

    And most cars don’t have low gear…..

    Going down on a slippery road though is very different story. Here manual is the absolute winner.

  3. Depends on the driver. I grew up with manual transmissions so shifting them is second nature to me. It's more challenging to get started from a stop going uphill, especially in bad weather. Manual transmissions can be a real pain in rush hour, bumper to bumper traffic. Clutches wear by starting from a stop. The more a car is required to do that, no matter how good the driver is, the faster the clutch wears. They have to be replaced more. On the upside, manuals usually can get better mileage. For many they are more fun. In town, they require more focus and attention on driving, making texting more difficult. I love a stick shift. I also love an auto… it just depends on the conditions.

  4. “What advantage does an automatic transmission have over manual transmission?”

    While I agree with other responders, I must say in most of Europe automatic transmission is not automatically 🙂 assumed to be better. People fear losing the skill to drive a manual transmission (looking at North America, this fear is not completely ungrounded), automatic gearboxes typically consume more fuel vs the same car with a manual, etc – there are some disadvantages as well.

    However, there is an additional huge advantage I never realized until breaking my leg. You can safely drive an automatic transmission car with a broken left leg. It would have been impossible with a manual. Makes a big difference in the quality of life until the 6 weeks in cast will be over…

    I hope it was helpful.

  5. What advantage does an automatic transmission have over manual transmission?

    They change gears at the right time. Which is more than I can say about so many drivers.

    A very socialist IT group in Melbourne were trying to tell me I’d be better off driving at 80 instead of 100 on freeways. My auto wont go into 4th going downhill at 80 and consumes much more fuel in 3rd. They insisted I make it use 4th and that would fix my problem. Unfortunately, gearboxes don’t take orders, no matter how sure one is.

    So there are this bunch of socialists dictating performance instructions to their cars that are (a) being ignored by autos or (b) labouring and pinging the crap out of their engines, which uses lots more fuel than 100 in 4th.

    The truth will never get in the way of a good agenda. 🙂

    PS: I left that left group.

  6. Simplicity. That is the only advantage it has. Each have their pros and cons when it comes to different applications, like off road use and such, but other than not needing to shift, that's about it.

  7. Less effort or thinking for the driver, no dry clutch to wear out or replace (obviously I’m speaking of traditional hydraulic automatic transmissions with torque converters, valve-bodies, planetary gears and bands, and not the more modern “automatic” transmissions that are really just computer controlled manual transmissions)

  8. Automatic is much easier to drive. I have driven both a lot and for most driving I'd choose automatic. For sport or racing a manual is more fun. If you are buying used then an automatic is less likely to have been abused.

  9. Easier to drive, especially in traffic. That's about it. Although, modern 8, 9, and 10 speed transmissions can be faster and more efficient than a manual.

  10. Less efficient, inability to select the correct gear for the situation, less driver invilvement. But, automatics win in atraffic jamb.

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