Manual vs. Auto

I keep reading about automatic transmission failures here, all of which sound very expensive. I have never had a manual transmission failure in 70 years, and had only two clutches, despite the fact that I put high miles on old cars. One Honda went 277,000 miles on the original clutch. Am I getting a biased view of automatics on this site, where I only here sob stories?


Yes, you are. Automatics outsell manuals about 25 to 1 these days so you are far more likely to see posts about autos than manuals.

And then there are CVT owners who don’t read their owners manuals. Especially Nissan owners.


That’s probably because hardly anyone can purchase a vehicle with a manual anymore.

If you worked in an auto repair shop you’d find manual transmissions fail too.

And for the same reason.

Lack of maintenance.



Hit or miss, my auto 4wd on auto made it 197k miles till rear ended, my 93 Toyota truck remember kiddingly bitching the brakes only last 100k miles? I think it boils down to driver and maintenance. Both cars now Auto trans, no worries. Cheers!

I think that manual transmissions are generally more reliable than automatics. Notice I said “generally”. Some manual transmissions were more problematic and prone to failure than others.

The thing with manuals is the clutch eventually wears out. But it can be relatively easily replaced and it can be made to last a very long time if the driver doesn’t slip the clutch often. Automatics, the bands, clutches, etc wear out similarly, but to replace them you’ve got to take the whole thing apart and by that time you may as well replace everything inside and buy a new torque converter too. And you have very little control on how the auto’s shift, so the clutches tend to wear out quicker in the automatic.

Of course 90 some odd percent of the driving population had rather have an auto, so the manual trans is going the way of the hand crank.

That’s the way I see it, anyway. Now everyone will tell me how I’m wrong.


A new driver can destroy a clutch in a very short time and if someone has terrible stop and go traffic daily a manual will soon be hated.


Pretty much what everyone else has said. The same reason you hear more about problems with Toyotas than with Lamborghinis.

1 Like

I have never broken an automatic.

I have broken a pile of manual transmissions. Worn out one clutch, burned one, broke one pressure plate and replaced a few clutch plates for loose springs.

But I am clearly not normal.

How many can you contribute to track days that most of the driving population don’t do?


Exact opposite with me, although I haven’t worn out a “pile” of autos. Just a couple. Anecdotal, I know, but that’s what makes manuals appear more long lasting to me.

The Suburban i mentioned I’m considering buying in the other thread is a manual. It’s a 3/4 ton, so I’m thinking it’ll have an SM465 cast iron, heavy duty honkin truck transmission. I wouldn’t be as interested if it were an auto.

All but 2. The first was in a Datsun 510 I drove to school. Beat that thing mercilessly.

The second was a cast iron Saginaw 4 speed behind a 231 V6. I was still in school. Should have been bulletproof but busted out the side case. Swapped in junkyard gearboxes into each car for the fix.

The rest were racing use and abuse!


There is something particularly cool about a manual Suburban… :grinning: I like the thought of it.


Something broke inside the clutch on my 1984 Chevy Cavalier. The trans itself was OK, but of course it would not work without a functional clutch. I would call that a manual transmission failure.

My 1999 Honda Civic is on its original clutch at 200,000 miles. No transmission problems. Have changed the Honda fluid several times.

I have only wrecked one manual trans due to not knowing about changes in the gear oil that I posted about here about 6years ago as far as clutches every thing I buy is used so I had to change a few due to wear from previous owners. I prefer to drive a manual over automatic. The other thing I think about is any slippage with a manual is a few hundreds $$ to fix compared to an automatic is a few thousands $$$ to fix.

You are not wrong I see it the same way mores the pity.

Agreed. The weird factor is strangely alluring.


Any machine can be made badly.
My last car was a 2006 Toyota Matrix, which is a taller hatchback Corolla.
The heavier Matrix used the same manual transmission as the Corolla; and there was a rash of trans bearing failures in the first years '03 and '04.
I don’t know if Toyota really corrected the problem, but I changed the trans oil at 20K miles out of concern and it looked pretty bad (glittery).

A friend from church was rear ended last week and she’s operating under the assumption that her manual transmission 2013 Mazda 3 is totalled. She was lamenting that she probably won’t be able to find another manual transmission car and she’s not far wrong.


How much more reliable do you want. If properly maintained most automatics will easily last 300k+ miles. Manuals will also last a long time. I love manuals. But since 1990 I’ve been driving SUVs or crossovers. Last manual I owned was my 1998 Pathfinder. 2005 I bought my 4runner which only came as an automatic. No SUV or crossover that I know of comes with a manual anymore.