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Can you replace a manual transmission to an automatic transmission?

We have a 2003 Honda Civic EX with a manual transmission (5spd). Two of my daughters are close to getting their drivers license, however, they don’t drive stick and are hesitant to learn how. My wife is asking me how difficult or expensive it would be to have an automatic transmission placed in the car so they can use it.

The car is in excellent shape. It only has 67,000 miles. Is this feasible? Why or why not? If it is feasible who could do it?

It would be cheaper to buy a new Honda with an automatic than to pay the price of parts and labor to make such a change.

I agree with Rod. It’s cheaper to go with another Honda that’s an automatic. This was a common swap many years ago but those days have long past.

No, you can’t replace the transmission. If you want or need an automatic you’ll have to trade the car for one with an automatic.

Personally, I’d teach them to drive stick. It’s a life skill worth learning, even if they never use it again.

My daughter occasionally tells me how glad she is that she learned to drive stick because so many of her friends, both male and female, cannot. She loves showing up the guys.

It is not a simple matter of exchanging just the transmissions. You must also replace the car’s driving computer and possibly some other accessories as well.

Teach them how to drive a manual car. Once they get the hang of it, they will love it.

As others have said. Not cheap. However, I feel like being able to drive stick is an important skill, so I would encourage you to at least visit this skill in their driver training. It will allow them to drive any car in an emergency, and they may be able to get a great deal on a used car because all the other saps in the world don’t drive stick. I dunno my father taught my 2 sisters and i on a stick shift and now all three of us own stick shift cars.

Doing a swap like this is sort of like performing a sex change operation. It is possible, but you need to find a professional who has done this before and will need another donor car for the necessary parts, like transmission, radiator, console, shifter, pedal brackets, etc. This procedure will also be extremely expensive, probably more than the car is worth.

I think you should keep the car the way it is and teach your daughters to drive a manual. It’s not hard to learn, or to teach, and will give them a leg up on life. They will have a skill few of their peers, or adults for that matter, have, and they will be able to drive most anything out there. My father insisted that I, as well as my younger siblings, all learn to drive stick before any of us got our driver’s licenses. My father has done construction work and says it’s pretty pathetic to see construction workers running around, needing a truck moved, trying to find someone who can drive a stick so this truck can be moved out of the way. Let’s not continue this trend. Your daughters will thank you some day.

It’s possible, if you had a “donor” car, a shop willing to do it, and the cost to replace the transaxle, cv shafts, mounts, possibly subframe, shifter and cables, interior console, electronics, and probably a few other things I can’t think of right now would easily run several thousand dollars.

Sounds like a good project for a TV show.

It’such cheaper and more feasible to have your daughters learn how th shift gears. If that is out of the question, there is always public trnasportation.

A friend of mine lived in a large city, and his kids took the “BMW” ; Bus, Metro, Walk.

Unless this is just a theoretical question, I don’t know why you are even considering this - teach them how to drive shift.

I have two female friends, both around 50 that grew up in homes where there was no vehicle. Both taught themselves how to drive manual shift cars and both still drive manual shift cars. One of the women had to buy a car when she did student teaching. She bought a Renault LeCar from her neighbor. She taught herself how to drive the car in less than a day. Her stories about the LeCar and its problems are hilarious. When she did land a job, she traded the LeCar for a Honda Civic with a manual transmission and she has had manual transmission Hondas since that time. She commutes about 40 minutes each way to work in heavy traffic, but gets along just fine. The other woman didn’t start driving until she graduated from college. She taught herself to drive a standard shift and last I knew still drives a standard shift.

My son had stayed away from manual shift cars. However, he married a woman who brought a 5speed manual Ford Mustang to the marriage. She then developed back problems and is uncomfortable driving the Mustang. My son figured out the manual right away and drives it as if he had been driving manual transmissions all his life. At one time, he bought a manual transmission pick up truck. Back in the late 1950’s when I started driving, the cars that were owned by parents of some of my friends were automatics, so that is all some of my friends had ever driven. However, a couple of them bought Volkswagens for their first cars and had no trouble learning to shift. I haven’t owned a manual transmission since 1975, since the used cars I found had automatics and the new minivans I have purchased were only available with automatic transmissions. Given a choice, I still prefer a manual transmission.

The point is that your daughters can learn the manual transmission and may even prefer driving one.

No, at least not at anything like a reasonable cost.

My, how times have changed. It used to be that people wanted to replace an automatic transmission with a manual. I saw two 1954 Chevrolets in the early 1960’s that had been converted from automatic transmissions to manual transmissions. The steering column was changed, a clutch had to be installed as well as the manual transmission. It seems to me that the rear axle ratio in these cars was never quite right for the transmission. In both cases, I don’t think it was worth the effort even back then.

With a front wheen drive Honda, I can’t imagine all the problems in going the other way to switch to an automatic from a manual.

If they 're learning to drive…
They need to learn to drive the car they HAVE to drive !

Teach 'em the manual trans…period.

It will be an important LIFE lesson ( not just this once ) in adaptaion.

–My example----------
We bought my daughter a used Ranger at graduation.
How dejected she was to see it was a stick. "But dad, I don’t know how to drive one of ‘those’ ! "
“So we’ll simply learn it then.” I said, never having thought twice when buying it.

  • My dad took the teaching reins,
  • she learned in short order,
  • she drove it gleefully to college and back for two years until she rolled it on some hiddden-in-the-shadows ice.
    Its replacement was just an old 500 dollar Taurus.
    – here’s the kicker —
    When she first saw the Taurus, what was the first thing she commented on ?
    “Aw man , it’s an automatic :frowning: …I want my stick back.”

Tell both your wife and your daughters that if THEY want to learn to drive, THEY are either going to need to learn how to drive a MANUAL to use your car, or they are going to have to drive your WIFE’S CAR INSTEAD.

If they are not willing to learn how to drive manual, then they are SOL.
Put your foot down on this one. They don’t need to change your preferred vehicle because they are getting their licenses soon.


If you tell them “learn to drive a stick shift or walk” they will have the basics down in less than half an hour…Converting anything in today’s computerized cars is virtually impossible…

Don't be so quick with the "sink or swim" method guys.  Just telling that they'll have to learn or else sometimes in not an option.  Every car I've ever owned has been a manual transmission, and I've tried to teach my wife on my last 5 vehicles . . .  an exercise in frustration.  Some folks don't care to know how.  I have tried and tried.  Her car when I met her was an automatic, and when we traded it in we got . . . guess what?  My advice is to trade your Civic (sound like a beauty, too) for a Civic with an automatic and move on.  I just read about a survey of how many cars come with manual vs. automatic, and the results startled me . . . something like 85% to 15% automatic preference.  Go figure.  Rocketman

Parents don’t seem to know how to teach manual transmission driving any more. When we learned in the 50’s, they didn’t take us out on the highway, and tell us to shift.

We watched how it was done, and by the hour, we’d sit in the parked car, no key, and practice the shift/clutch/throttle sequence over and over. That is how you teach it.

And, I agree, if they are told to do this dry run stuff, and they will walk until they learn, it won’t take them long. They will do as little as you let them.

I certainly understand what you are saying. However, that is the reason for them to learn now, before they get so fixed in their ways they will never learn, as for your wife. These are kids, not his wife, and no one owes them a car of their choice. When they marry, they have more clout and can set rules. To kowtow to young daughters is not preparing them for being wives.

No doubt the desire to keep gear changes out of the cell phone dialing and texting operation is a factor in preferences for an automatic… :slight_smile: