Recommending automatics? Wtf?


#1

Can’t believe the repeated recommendations for automatics in the recent columns.

My 1990 Taurus averaged 70k on a tranny, at several thousand each. The 2000 VW Passat that replaced it has gone for sixteen years and 230k miles on the original clutch, and it’s still going strong.

I don’t know if VW used depleted uranium alloyed with tungsten, iridium, and unobtainium for the clutch or what, but that clutch is far better than any automatic tranny I’ve ever owned.


#2

By contrast with your 1990 Taurus, I have never had a transmission failure on any of my automatic transmission cars, and that included…a 1986 Ford Taurus, a '71 Dodge Charger, a '74 Volvo, a '92 Honda Accord, and three Subaru Outbacks, most of which were driven for well over 100k miles. Then again, I maintain them properly, with trans fluid and filter changes every 30k miles…


#3

With the new umpteen gear cvt and reports of transmissions being the #1 complaint, I second a manual transmission.


#4

I love manual transmissions but my knees will no longer tolerate a clutch pedal. I have never had a problem with automatic transmissions except for a 2003 Mercury Sable (Ford Taurus rebadged).


#5

For me it is a battle between the both sides of my brain. I LOVE driving manuals, but my better half refuses to drive them even though she could. Guess who wins most of the time.


#6

The only way to get a manual in a Taurus was to buy the special sports model, I think it was an SVT. It had a special Yamaha V6 and was a cool car. Ford might have made a very few 4 cylinder Taurus cars with a manual transmission, but I’ve never seen one.


#7

By the number of complaints we get here about automatic transmission problems and the cost to fix them, you are not alone OP. My experience, I’ve had to have my Ford truck’s automatic transmission rebuilt at 100K, even though driven fairly gently for the most part, and transmission fluid and filter changed out every 30K miles. My VW Rabbit’s clutch lasted to 180K miles, still working fine, at which point I sold the car. My Corolla’s clutch is over 200K miles and still going strong. The only maintenance I’ve done for my manual transmission cars is to replace the transmission fluid every 100K miles, and the occasional clutch master cylinder or clutch cable replacement.


#8

We see lots of AT questions because 90% of cars have ATs. I’ve had no problem for decades.


#9

I think Taurus and transmission failures are synonymous. Most people don’t want manual transmissions anymore so its hard to sell a car with one. With the lockup torque converters now gas mileage is also debatable.


#10

Admittedly I’ve driven mostly manuals over the years, but I’ve never had a failure on any of my automatics, including my current one with 236,000 miles.

On the other hand, I’ve only ever had to change one clutch, and that was at 295,000 miles on a clutch with which I’d taught two kids to drive… and a few years after my daughter started driving the vehicle daily. Perhaps if she hadn’t I’d still be driving it. No way to know. But I love my daughter dearly and would make the same decision all over again… the comment was just about clutch longevity.


#11

I’m not nearly as anti-automatic as I used to be, mostly because modern automatics are so good, and with lockup torque converters, they are no longer inefficient slush boxes.
Also, they frequently, but not always, have a taller overdrive ratio for highway cruising than the same car in a manual.
There’s only the reliability issue to deal with, best judged by the particular car’s track record. Looks like I’m going to steer clear of automatic transmission Tauruses in the future. Not that one was ever on my short list.


#12

Acura seems to be having some automatic transmission problems of late.


#13

It’s not like manual transmissions are always trouble free. I had a Datsun 620 pickup truck with 5-speed manual. It loved to loosen the lock nut that held 5th gear on the output shaft. I knew it was happening when the shifter would move back and forth on its own when lifting the gas and going from drive to coast.
I finally fixed it for good by using an output shaft out of a 720 pickup, which was identical to the 620 output shaft except for that nut having a left handed thread and the bearing race that the 5th gear needle bearings rode on was an interference fit on the shaft instead of a slip fit. The slip fit I believe was the real design flaw. It would walk around the shaft like an epicyclic gear and slowly turn while the engine was pulling the truck along, this would eventually work the lock ring off the shaft, shearing the lock indentation in the key way.
Just saying, manual transmissions are in no way immune from design flaws.


#14

I would also mention that Mini Cooper was having SEVERE problems with their clutches

Don’t know if they solved that problem yet


#15

Sounds like Acura is using a non Honda supplier for their 9 speed transmissions on the TLX or something and that they are having problems with them. The problems on the standard autos in the early 2000’s was pretty well known but haven’t heard much about the 6 speeds.


#16

Lots of car makers use transmissions made by competitors

Allison transmissions are used in many trucks, that have absolutely nothing to do with GM, for example

The Benz 722.6 5-speed auto trans was used in lots of cars that were unassociated with Benz, for example


#17

As far as I know few if any car makers manufacture their own transmissions and many have the same supplier.
For many years SAAB transmissions were manufactured by Borg Warner as an example.


#18

Certain automatic transmissions are more trouble prone than others. We consider ourselves lucky to only have to rebuild the transmission on the 1988 Grand Voyager only once in 1994 (only reverse worked)

The 2007 Honda CRV that replaced it has been totally reliable.


#19

How about the Dual clutch ,Focus ? I hear that thing is an engineering marvel .A clutch will last a long time if driven properly,I expect during highway usage they have almost zero wear ,transmission paradigm is due to change in a few years anyway,when more cars switch to electric drive .I dont want hear any gaff about an auto cant stand heavy usage .construction equipment that handles monster torque loads and abuse have been using them for decades (they are just better for extreme heavy duty use-even some of the monsters have electric drive ,the so called "direct drive " super big trucks are automatics -but its apples and oranges ,I have driven manuals so long ,I consider automatic transmissions an upgrade.


#20

The truth of the matter is that these days, there aren’t that many objective benefits to a manual anymore. Automatics generally outlast the rest of the car, they get the same or slightly better fuel economy than a comparable manual in the same vehicle, and they are often just as fast or faster than a manual in terms of performance.

With that said, I just bought a new Mustang GT and I opted for the manual because I enjoy it, and it was mandatory if I wanted certain options on the car.

@UncleTurbo : There were two Taurus models that could be had with a manual; The SHO , which had the Yamaha DOHC V6, and the very rare MT-5 model, which had a pretty weak 2.5L I4. The MT-5 was only around for about two years, I’ve only see a couple of them out in the wild.