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Automatic vs: Standard

I’m buying a “new” used car - probably another subi - and wonder if there is a difference in the amount of maintenance between an automatic vs: standard shift transmission. (One reason I’m in the market for a “new” car is the transmission is quickly going in my standard subi forester) I live in VT - if that makes a difference. Thanks for any input!

It’s more a matter of personal choice.

What’s wrong with your manual transmission? It’s unusual for manual Subaru transmissions to fail.

Shoot, try a automatic,I always considered an automatic a upgrade-Besides Subura has the transmissions calibrated better then some makes-Kevin

You will get lots of opinions about topics other than maintenance, even though you didn’t ask for any.

I will try to answer your direct question with a direct answer.

The main difference in maintenance has to do with transmission fluid changes.

With an automatic, thoroughly servicing the transmission means dropping the pan, cleaning the filter, and replacing the fluid. Some cars have a drain plug for automatic transmissions, but I don’t know about Subarus. Even when you drop the pan, you don’t get all the old fluid out because of what is in the torque converter. Then when you check the fluid level, the car has to be warm and running, if it even has a transmission fluid dip stick. More automatic vehicles are made without dip sticks these days. Again, I don’t know about Subarus, but this would be important to me.

With a manual transmission, you just drain the transmission oil and replace it. It is like an oil change without having to change the oil filter. For some cars, it is normal oil, like 10W-30. For other cars, the manual transmission uses a special gear oil. In either case, you get almost all of the oil out when you drain it. Then when you check the transmission oil level, it is a simple matter of removing the fill plug and making sure it is still filled to the top.

Both transmissions should have the fluid changed every 30,000 miles, so when talking strictly about ease of maintenance, I think manual transmissions win hands down. There is no filter to clean or change, and you get more of the fluid out and replaced when you do a single service.

I have other opinions about the benefits of manual transmissions, but you didn’t ask for those. Let me know if you are interested.

Both automatic and manual last a long time if properly cared for and operated correctly. With automatic you will have fluid changes, with a manual there will be clutch replacement. Manual gets slightly better fuel economy.

Like others, I am baffled why you have trouble with your manual shift. They usually outlast the car. An automatic requires periodic fluid and filter changes and regular checks of the fluid level. If you are not prepared to administer this extra care, stay away from an automatic

Since it is easier to cause an automatic to fail than a manual, maybe you should stick to manual; we get about 20 automatic problem posts for every manual one.

Don’t forget that it’s harder to sell a manual than an auto and usually for less then the going rate. Trucks less so. For me, if trade in is important and you didn’t mention the year/mileage of your present car, that would be a consideration. That you have manual transmission trouble may indicate you’re better suited for an auto.

Is it just your clutch that’s going on your Forester? If so, that’s really just a wear and tear thing and is no reason to get rid of the car.

I generally would agree with the others in saying it’s mostly a matter of personal choice, with the automatic being the generally more practical choice. However, depending on how old of a used Subie you’re looking at, the manual can be a much more attractive choice for buying used because, at least as I understand it, the manual version of the AWD system is less sensitive to damage from abuse than the automatic version.

Thanks for all your replies… to address some of the questions. It isn’t the clutch - I had that replaced about 8 months ago. It is slipping out of fourth gear and there is apparently a leak of trans. fluid as I’ve had to have fluid added a couple of times in the past 8 months. There are also metal slivers in the fluid. I prefer manual, especially in Vt. winters, I feel I have better control in the snow. It is a 2001 Forester with 159,000 miles that I bought used 4+ years ago. It also needs the drive shaft replaced (this is a new development since the transmission problems). My mechanic recommended that I just get a different car since I have put a lot of $$$ into this one. I think my next step is to check around for prices on repairs - see if I can get a better deal then what’s being offered at my current shop - then perhaps just keep this car.

The teeth on the gears in the transmission are “hardened” during manufacture. Once you wear past the hardened surface the gear will wear out rapidly. The symptom is more noise until complete failure. There are bearings in the manual trans that can get noisey too before they fail. Synchro’s and spines move around too and can be a source of metal shavings.

From the metal shavings you describe something in the trans is wearing out and you are looking at a rebuild or a replacement at some point not too far away. Although most manual trans last longer, 160K for this one seems to be near the end of the line.

Rebuilds and/or replacing a manual trans should be less expensive than a similar job on an auto trans. In general I like maunal tramsmissions and would recommend you stay with manual. Of the 3 cars I now own 2 are auto’s. In the end other factors about the car determine whether or not I buy it more than than the transmission type.

Both are good. Both have a weakness.

Automatics need the fluid changed. Best at about every 30,000 or 40,000 miles. Ignoring it means short life. Too bad many owner’s manuals don’t list this.

Manuals are subject to wear do to inexperienced or poor drivers.

They both can last the life of the car which is about 300,000 miles.

Are you implying you don’t need to change the manual transmission fluid on a manual transmission?

Are you implying you don’t need to change the manual transmission fluid on a manual transmission?

No, I’m not, but most manuals don’t even mention it. When I had manual cars I changed the lube oil about every 50-60,000 miles or so. The oil in a manual gearbox does not transmit power, like an automatic. So it does not heat up as much. A forgetful driver is better off with a maunal, since it is a much more forgiving transmission.

I could also be a retainer nut that wore though the punched stake into a keyway that is supposed to lock it in place allowing it to back off. This causes the torque to cause the helical cut gears to move the gear laterally back and forth when you switch from driving to coasting and that can push the syncro that engages the gear apart.
Does the gear shift move when you lift your foot off the gas when in fourth gear and then move back when you step on the gas?

Anyway, it’s a take-the-transmission-apart repair.

Usually, manual transmissions last forever. The Mitsubishi 5 speeds, used in MANY Japanese cars, are a little tender in their 5th gear… With automatics, they are guaranteed to fail at some point, and that point is usually between 110K and 170K miles. In most cars, depending on year and condition, this totals the car as it cost more to fix it than the car is worth. You take it from there. A magnetic drain plug in a transmission will return worthwhile benefits…