5 speed verses Automatic

I live in Southern Central NY where there are alot of hills and I live on a hill so my drive way is very steep. I am considering purchasing a 5 speed in hopes of slowing my car down using the gears verses the brakes. I want to know if this is a good idea.

No. Brakes are MUCH cheaper than transmissions and clutches…You choose a stick shift because somewhere around 100K miles, the slush-box will puke and in most cases, total the FWD / AWD car…

“somewhere around 100K miles, the slush-box will puke”

That is certainly true for a transmission that is not maintained, but I can tell you that I have NEVER had a transmission failure (or even a trans problem) with any of my properly-maintained automatic transmission cars subsequent to my '74 Volvo. And, even on that crap Volvo, the problem was a persistent leak. The transmission continued to function properly–as long as I added a qt of trans fluid when needed.

An automatic trans that is not serviced every 30k miles or so can be counted on to fail anytime after 90k miles, but that is the price of negligence. I have had the trans on all of my cars serviced every 30k miles, and my '97 Outback is still running very nicely with something like 180k on the odometer.

My almost-new ‘86 Taurus’ transmission contined to function normally right up to the time that I traded it in, and that was in spite of accidentally running the trans almost dry (I ran over some rebar rods in the road, and did not know until I got home ~20 minutes later that the trans pan had been punctured by one of the rods.) I had it towed to the dealership and had the pan replaced, along with the fluid. It continued to operate perfectly for another 40k miles, likely because it had been regularly serviced.

Your statement does not agree with my experience with a Dodge, a Volvo, a Chevy, a Ford, a Honda, and two Subarus. All had their trans fluid changed every 30k miles or so, and none of them “puked”, even at very high odometer readings.

You can downshift automatics also. On my wife’s Honda Element, if I need extra engine braking, I just push the overdrive lockout button and then push it again when the need for extra engine braking is over.
You can also force the transmission to use second and third gear with the gear selector.

Modern engines with variable valve timing don’t seem to have that much engine braking anyway. The same valve timing that results in low pumping losses at part throttle also seems to kill the engine braking to a large extent. I wish they would have a button that locks out the low pumping loss cam timing for extra engine braking and less tricky clutch engagment when starting up hills.

We live in mountainous area, and through judicious use of our automatic by down shifting them, we are just as secure as the manuals we used to have. We get excellent braking effect on our autos. I may buy a manual for other reasons but not for downshifting. BTW, downshifting is always worthwhile. When done correctly it adds little to the wear and tear on a clutch. And no, contrary to what’s said, brake jobs over the life of a car are not necessarily cheaper than one additional clutch job over the life of a car. But that’s not a debate if you use manual or auto correctly when down shifting.

depending on how steep the hills are, it may be better to shift down so the brakes won’t fade.

I think so. Two of our three cars have manual transmissions. Just be sure to blip the throttle so that the engine speed will match what it will be after the clutch is reengaged. That will minimize clutch wear and undue stress on your manual transmission gears and bearings. You will still need to use the brakes but a little less.

Not with a front wheel drive car in snow or ice.

I agree. Down shifting all the way to a stop is counter productive I believe, but relieving the brakes of having to slow the car down from higher speeds or from continuous application on long hills is were down shifting seems most effective. And though some will say newer manual transmissions don’t need “double clutching” as “Wha Who” described, it still seems reasonable to me, especially at higher engine rpms.


I have driven automatics since '53 however I rarely downshift to slow the car down. The only transmissiion that failed me was a '59 Ford that I bought used and later reverse let me down. I presently have 128K on my van and it is still doing fine. I wouldn’t have a manual transmission. I would sooner have a crank on the front of the engine to start it (as on a model-T Ford).

Nothing wrong with an automatic trans.I consider it an upgrade,was brought up on 3 spds,pull the lever to a lower gear for braking,I would think when electronic “camshafts” are the vogue,there will be a braking mode-Kevin

I agree with caddyman. It is hard to drive a stick shift in hilly areas.