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Does a standard make you into a better driver? Or just experience? Or Both

I’m 22 and learned to drive when I was 15. I have a 99 Accord (automatic), just bought a few months ago, and my previous accord, 87 was a stick shift. Looked for another stick shift Accord, could not find so I compromised. Anyhoo…

Since I drove the stick shift and then went back to an automatic, I can’t help that I am a “smoother” driver. i.e. Anticipating speed/traffic flow, coasting to a stop (not in neutral!), Using the throttle more to regulate speed, not randomly stepping on the brakes, etc.

Am I driving more smoothly because of the standard? Or because I am getting older and thus driving more conservatively ?

If the former… why aren’t more manuals being made? I must say I miss mine.

They aren’t building more manuals because they are too much work! Unless it’s for a specialized application, standard transmissions are only good for making extra work. A modern automatic can produce fuel economy equal to a standard as well. Put simply, manuals suck…flame on!

I would say that manual transmissions are more for the “sportier” driver…you know, to each his own. Some people like the control over the output of the engine they feel they get with a manual transmission.

In very high-tech racing “cars”, small finger operated paddles are used to shift the transmission. The driver’s foot never comes off the gas pedal, and there is NO clutch pedal. It’s different.

It is now as it always has been. Some people like manuals and some like automatics. Today there is little other than a simple personal preference to choose one over the other. Modern automatics are very good, unlike the early models.

They aren’t building more manuals …flame on!

If you mean they are no longer making manual transmissions, you are wrong. If you mean they are not making as many as they once did, you are correct.

It would be interesting to see some real facts on the reliability of the two. Of course you would need to factor out the difference in drivers and a few other factors to be sure the results were based just on the transmission difference.

“They aren’t building more manuals” was in response the the OP asking “why aren’t more manuals being made?” “More” is the operative word as opposed to “anymore”.

Does a standard shift make you a better driver? It’s quite possible because you may get a better feeling for how the drivetrain functions from the engine to the wheels. You may drive more conservatively by having a feel for the shifting of the automatic transmission.

People seemed to prefer automatic transmissions on upscale cars from the time they were introduced. In 1948, GM first offered the hydramatic transmission on the Pontiac. 80% of the eight cylinder Pontiacs and 50% of the 6 cylinder Pontiacs were equipped with hydramatic, and 75% of the Pontiacs sold were the 8 cylinder models. My dad had a 1954 Buick that had a standard transmission and the standard shift was rare even at this time. An Accord is an upscale car from the Civic and the manual isn’t really that common in the Civic today. You will probably have to look hard to find the manual in the Accord.

I think that it would be incorrect to assume that the type of transmission that someone uses is directly connected with his/her driving ability.

Yes, having to shift a manual transmission will make you more aware of engine speed, and may make you anticipate changes in traffic flow somewhat better, but that does not necessarily translate into being a better driver overall. In fact, it could be argued that operating a manual transmission is somewhat of a distraction, as compared to an automatic transmission.

I think that the only thing that can definitely be attributed to driving a manual transmission is the desire for an automatic transmission every time that you are stuck in stop-and-go traffic!

I think driving a stick requires a little more mental coordination. You sorta get use to it, so when you drive an automatic it’s just mentally easier, allowing your brain to more easily concentrate on other aspects of driving.

In good weather, I drive a Honda S2000 (6 speed). After spending some time in that thing, when I get in my daily driver with an automatic, it’s almost relaxing by comparison.

Automatics are BORING! Real drivers heel-toe and rev match. Flame-on! I used to have an old beater truck that I would rev match and shift without the clutch. That was fun.

Good vid of real driving and shifting:

Autos have their place…if you are stuck in city traffic or towing. Even Triptronic tpyes are probably less of a true driving experience (having never driven one).

It’s interesting that automatic transmissions caught on in cars right away. By 1950, 90% or more Buicks were equipped with the Dynaflow automatic. The PowerGlide automatic was an instant hit when it was introduced in the 1950 Chevrolet. Even the “lift and clunk” semi-automatic transmission (gyromatic) was a hit in the 1949 and later Dodges. Hudson had a some arrangement called drivemaster that manipulated the clutch and Packard had an electric clutch option. On the other hand, the automatic transmission didn’t become popular in pick-up trucks until the 1970’s, even though Ford introduced it in its F-1 pick-up in 1953 as did GMC. Chevrolet introduced the automatic in 1954. Yet an automatic in pick-up truck was uncommon in a pick-up truck throuugh the 1960’s. I remember that city buses had automatic transmissions right after WW II, yet school buses were mostly manual transmissions even into the 1970’s. I would guess that the automatic transmissions were more likely to be used for stop and start driving.

The last inter-city bus I rode on was an automatic. I said something to the driver and he said that it was hard to find drivers who could still shift gears.

I Own Two Fieros, One Manual, One Automatic.

I’m not a better driver in either one. I prefer the automatic in the morning. The manual can be fun in the afternoon. I do like the way the automatic up-shifts hard when you punch it, kind of kicks you in the pants.

I drink a lot of coffee in the morning (Don’t worry, it doesn’t distract me.) and neither one of these darn things has a cup holder. Try steering and shifting with a cup of coffee in your hands. The hot-coffee-in-the-crotch routine has to go bad just one time before you give that up.

I logged (survived) hundreds of thousands of miles in “Old Beetles”. I never minded shifting them and I agree with heeling & toeing. These cars made it easy for smooth down-shifts and starting on steep inclines was never a problem.

I’d never buy another manual on purpose unless it was a “classic” or something for an occasional afternoon ride.

Let’s call a truce and compromise before we get into a big debate over standard vs. automatic. The compromise is that we have Chrysler corporation bring back the “lift and clunk” semi-automatic transmissions sometimes called Fluid Drive. One would still have the clutch pedal to put the transmission in its different driving ranges. One controls the shift point because you have to let up on the accelerator for the transmission to shift. If we could all agree to this compromise, Chrysler could get out its old tools and equip its cars with the Fluid Drive. This might save Chrysler corporation.

I hope you realize that I’m just kidding. We had a Dodge and a DeSoto with these transmissions that I used to drive. I hated this transmission. I’d either rather shift gears or have the fully automatic.

Nope - salesmen will tell you that the fuel economy is the same so you will buy the automatic on the lot instead of looking for what you want. I drive a manual, my wife drives a manual my daughters drive manuals my sons drive manuals. Generally we have found that we get at least 10% better gas mileage than the rated mileage. Put both down the highway at sixty and they will be closer, the big difference is that the driver can look ahead and shift according to what is going to happen instead of what has already happened as the automatic does. If I lived in a city an automatic would probably be fine, but with a mix of highway and rural roads no automatic can compete on economy. Not to mention they are not as much fun.

I think people that drive manuals regularly tend to be better drivers. IMO if you cannot handle a stick shift, you have no business behind the wheel of any car.

“IMO if you cannot handle a stick shift, you have no business behind the wheel of any car.”

No fooling. What about people with disabilities? Should they be house bound because they can’t depress a clutch? I can drive a manual transmission, yet what makes me a good driver is my ability to drive sensibly, anticipate traffic and avoid difficult situations. That’s experience.

I think it has more to do with your concern about driving rather than the equipment. As a practical matter though, standards in heavy traffic are just a pain in the neck and mucho hard on the knee pushing the pedal in all the time.

When I drive high performance cars with manual trans I tend to “play” more,take the engine up close to red-line,downshift for corners,enjoy myself.

Econoboxes with manual trans are just work to me.

So for me it depends on the car.

A BMW 540 with a clutch is a lot more fun than the automatic version.

I don’t understand the basic premis “make you a better driver”? definitly more fun with the stick.Since I do drive a manual trans car harder (exploring its performance)does that mean I am driving less safely?

I don’t know if it makes me a better driver, but I know I would rather pay to replace a clutch than pay to replace an automatic transmission. Typically, a new clutch will be half the cost. Then there is the ability to push start the manual if the battery is dead and there is nobody around to jump start the car.

One can drive like an idiot in either a manual or an automatic. I think you are maturing.

I though about this while posting in my usual joking manner. Of course you are right. I have an old buddy used to race an autmatic equipped car as he has little use of his left leg. But he shifted the tranny like a manual when ever he could. his heart was with the manual.