Which lasts longer--manual or auto transmission

I’ve driven with manual transmissions for over 50 years and now find myself with an automatic. Since I never replaced a clutch in cars driven over 100,000 miles can I expect a well maintained AT do do the same?

Simply put, yes. A WELL maintained automatic will outlive the car. I’ve known many to live well into 200K miles. The key is well-maintained, and having problems addressed QUICKLY.

I disagree. It really depends on the particular vehicle make/model. Some last well into 300k range while others have trouble lasting between 100k-150k. Very few manual tranny’s if properly driven have any problems. If they do its very inexpensive to repair relative to an automatic.

I also think autos are likely to require replacement sooner. I had to replace the auto in my benz at only about 250,000 miles (probably due to some neglect by a previous owner). I have over 150,000 on the new one (with proper maintenance), hopefully I won’t have to replace the silly thing every 250,000 miles. If you consider 200K the life of the car, I guess it doesn’t matter.

Comparing a manual transmission with an automatic transmissions reminds me of the old saying about “you can’t add apples and oranges”. Rather than comparing the longevity of a manual transmission (almost unlimited, IMHO) with an automatic transmission, you should be comparing the clutch on a manual transmission with an automatic transmission.

I have owned two cars with manual transmissions (a VW Karmann Ghia that never needed attention to either the clutch or the transmission in 95,000 miles and a Chevy Citation that needed transmission repair twice and clutch replacement once in 60,000 miles–an apparent testimony to GM engineering in the early '80s!)

On the other hand, I have owned 6 cars with automatic transmissions, and none of them ever needed to have the transmission replaced or overhauled, even up to 150k+, with the one possible exception being a lousy Volvo that needed to have the seals replaced several times due to chronic leakage.

So, in my experience, automatic transmission cars are no more prone to repair in a given number of miles than a manual transmission car is. However, a lot has to do with the specific brand of car (Chrysler products made over the last 10 years or so have lousy automatic transmissions) and the maintenance that the car is given. If someone doesn’t perform the specified maintenance on his automatic transmission, then he probably deserves whatever failure might result.

If you have a car with a decent record for transmission reliability (you didn’t tell us about the car in question!!), and if you maintain it properly, you should be able to drive it for well over 150k with no problems in regard to the automatic transmission. We have come very far from the days of the Buick Dynaflow!!

First of all, the clutch is NOT part of the transmission.

There is no simple answer to your question. Some automatics last “forever” and others fail before 100K miles. It depends on the make, and how the transmission was maintained.

In my opinion a manual transmission has the potential to last much longer than an automatic. I still prefer manual-transmission cars, and, like you, have never had to replace a clutch, even at nearly 200K miles. But, again, the clutch is NOT part of the transmission. It’s a wear item, and sooner or later you will have to replace a clutch.

It also depends on how the manual is shifted. If the driver uses the synchros and shifts down through the gears with each stop, then there will be more wear. Granted the clutch is not a part of the tranny per se, but it’s part of the system that makes the tranny work. Sitting at stop lights with ones foot on the clutch with the transmission in gear will cause considerably more wear on the clutch and especially the throwout bearing. Replacing a clutch on a FWD car is not a cheap proposition. All in all, I’d pick a standard for longevity, clutch included, but today’s automatics are VERY good for gas mileage, positive shifting and long life. I’d call it a toss up.

Too many variables. Although, all in all I’d vote for the manual tranny. You might have to replace the clutch at some point, but that’s all most likely. Newer A/T’s have so many electronics, sensors, and other little gizmos’ that can break I think the A/T is the weak link in many cars. And, when they go it’s gonna be $3000 +.
It also seems like you find out that your car was built w/ a poor tranny after you buy the darn thing! I remember finding that out about my '87 Taurus I used to have. Also w/ my 2000 Volvo… luckily I got rid of it before that happened.

If you live in a mountenous area, your manual transmission will be OK but you will go through several clutches before the car expires. Similar in city driving, e.g. San Francisco. An automatic, on the other hand, if maintained carefully and driven conservatively, will likely last the life of the car. I’ve owned 12 cars since I was 19 years old, 3 of which were manual, the rest automatic. Never replaced a clutch, and had one automatic, a Ford C-4 repaired for $185. All other costs were fluid and filter changes. However, some makes have a history of transmission problems, Chrysler and Ford minivans, for instance. These problems were likely aggrevated by lack of maintenance, bad driving style, etc.

Provided every thing else is the same ( both are equally well built and taken care of ) I would bet on manual transmission specially if I have the vehicle since day zero. If I am buying used then I would be careful of manual transmission, because a poor driver can wreck it real easy. Automaitcs are not quite that sensitive to drivers.
In the hands ( or the feet) of a good driver, manual transmission will last for ever. A poor driver will wreck it within 100k real easy.

I think the question is “Will an automatic transmission last as long as a typical clutch?” I’ve read and re-read the OP a couple of times.

I agree that a well maintained manual transmission will completely outlive an automatic, the same cannot be said for the clutch. I’ve only had one car with the clutch lasting to 200K. Every thing else lasted 150K to 175K. And I have NEVER replaced the transmission. The longest lived, my Toyota P/U was at 325K miles when it was totaled. 2 clutches, but same original transmission. But, I have an automatic that has lasted 170K in my Ford Explorer with no sign of problems or slippage so far (knock on wood).

Most definitely! As long as you follow your vehicle’s service manual, you should be fine. I had an automatic Caravan that went over 200,000 miles. The only maintenance done on the transmission was that I would drop the pan every so often, drain the fluid, and change the filter.

Just do what your service manual calls for, and always use the recommended lubricant, regardless of whether or not it costs more.

What about this…which is easier to test for abuse, a manual transmission or auto?

Either on a test drive (e.g. evaluating a used car for purchase), or in a shop setting, by a mechanic. The general consensus seems to be that it all depends on how the clutch/trans has been treated from day 1.

Anyone who thinks they have enough data from their personal experience to answer your question definitively is full of doo doo. It depends on the quality of the automobile manufacturer. Those that make high quality vehicles will have transmissions that last longer.

i think the question as asked is unanswerable, at least by ordinary mortals based on their experience. there is to much driver to driver and car to car variability. we are a subaru family with 3 on the road. while i have never had transmission difficulty with any other manual tran car i have owned, my 2001 outback needed a new one at 120K. bad luck.

A properly designed, manufactured and maintained automatic will last the life of the car. Unfortunately, some manufacturers have produced cars with less than stellar tranny reliability.

Consumer Reports categorizes problems into system categories as well as indicating whether reliability has been better or worse than average. While not perfect, that’s about the best data out there to get an indication of the tranny reliability for a specific make and model.