Difference Between Manual and Automatic Cars


Most people do not know the difference between manual and automatic cars because currently, most of those who newly obtain a driving license choose an automatic transmission (AT) car. In the first place, some people may have never driven a manual (MT car) or even seen it.

However, because of its sporty and direct driving sensation, there must still be people who love driving and say, “I don’t want a manual car.”

It’s becoming a minority year by year, but manual cars have advantages that automatic cars don’t have. Therefore, this time we will focus on manual cars and what is the difference between manual and automatic cars in first place. In addition, we will introduce the advantages and disadvantages of manual cars, the charm that automatic cars do not have, and domestic cars that are set to manual cars.

Manual car (MT car) Vs.Automatic car (AT car)

The difference between a manual car (MT car) and an automatic car (AT car) is in the transmission installed. A manual car has a manual transmission that allows the driver to manually change gears, while an automatic car has an automatic transmission that allows the car to change gears automatically.

Recently, there are also semi-automatic cars that operate the clutch and shift gears automatically, although the mechanism is based on manual cars. In such cases, the driver does not need to change gears, so it is classified as an automatic car.

What kind of car is a manual car (MT car)?

Cars have gears such as 1st and 2nd gear, but in a manual car (MT car), the driver himself selects the appropriate gear and operates the clutch or gear change according to the speed.

It is necessary to use low gears when starting out or driving at low speeds, and high gears when driving at high speeds. It shifts to the gear that matches the speed and begins transmitting the appropriate driving force to the wheels, enabling smooth running.

However, if you can’t operate the clutch or change gears smoothly, you may end up stalling while driving. Therefore, compared to automatic cars (AT cars), the operation is inevitably more complicated, and the burden on the driver will increase.

What are the disadvantages of manual vehicles (MT vehicles)

What are the advantages of a manual car (MT car)?

In a manual car, the driver must manually change gears, but there are advantages that automatic cars do not have. It’s like this:

You can enjoy driving the car with direct gear changes

With the exception of semi-automatic vehicles, the driver is basically unable to control gear shifting.

However, with a manual car, the driver can select any gear and operate the clutch to shift gears more smoothly than with an automatic car.

Rather than relying on the car to operate the gears, the driver can control the gears according to the road environment and surface conditions.

Also, if you want acceleration power, you can get sharp acceleration power by stepping on the accelerator in low gear, and you can also earn fuel consumption by keeping high gear when driving at high speed.

Another advantage of a manual car is that it is less complicated than an automatic car, so there is less risk of breakdowns. In addition, the parts are lighter than automatic vehicles, and the weight of the vehicle can be reduced. Therefore, it can be said that the advantage of a manual car is that it can be expected to run more lightly.

Engine braking is easier on manual vehicles

In addition, it has excellent response when the accelerator is released, and the driver can control the gear selection, so it is easy to apply engine braking. (In the case of an automatic car, the gear shifts to the high-speed side according to the speed.)

Engine braking works just by lowering the gear when following a vehicle ahead or on a long descent, so you can control the speed with just the accelerator without frequent braking and prevent overheating of the brakes. 

What are the disadvantages of manual vehicles (MT vehicles)

As mentioned above, manual cars have advantages that automatic cars do not have, but there are also disadvantages. It’s like this:

Driving operations are complicated, such as the need for a half-clutch technique

With a manual car, you have to learn how to operate the clutch, which is not necessary with an automatic car. If you can’t operate the clutch correctly, such as half-clutch, not only can you not smoothly shift gears, but it may also cause the engine to stall while driving.

It is also necessary to exquisitely control the handbrake, etc., so that the car does not roll back when starting.

Furthermore, if you get stuck in a traffic jam, you will have to repeat the clutch operation many times. The burden on the foot of repeatedly stepping on the clutch pedal is not light, and long traffic jams can be a great stress for drivers.

In this way, it can be said that the disadvantage of MT vehicles is that they require more complicated operations than automatic vehicles.

There are few models of manual vehicles that are sold new.

In recent years, automatic cars have become mainstream, and there are few people who have obtained a normal car license (MT license), so there are an increasing number of cases where automobile manufacturers do not set manual cars in new models from the beginning.

Some sports cars and sporty grades are equipped with manual cars, but there are not many of them. Therefore, even if you want to ride a manual car, there are times when the MT grade is not set for your favorite car model.

The fact that there are fewer car models to choose from compared to automatic cars is a big disadvantage for drivers.

What kind of car is an automatic car (AT car)?

An automatic car (AT car) is a car in which the transmission automatically performs appropriate gear changes simply by operating the accelerator. Therefore, it is very easy to operate, and the major feature is that the driver can concentrate on accelerator work and brake operation.

Just by putting the shift lever in the D range, the car automatically shifts to the gear that matches the speed from start acceleration to normal driving, and there is no need for troublesome clutch operations.

What are the advantages of an automatic car (AT car)?

Ease of use is the first thing that comes to mind, but there are other benefits as well.

Automatic cars are easy to drive

First of all, the advantage of an automatic car is that it is easy to drive. It is said that the hurdles for obtaining a license are lower than those for manual vehicles, as there is no need for complicated operations for shifting gears.

In addition, when starting a manual car, it is necessary to adjust the clutch pedal halfway, but automatic cars have a creep phenomenon, so all you have to do is put the shift lever in the D range and loosen the brake pedal. The car will move slowly.

Therefore, anyone can easily start smoothly at a low speed. And when the speed increases, it automatically shifts to a higher gear, so it is possible to drive comfortably and with excellent fuel efficiency even on highways.

There is no need to operate the clutch, so there is no need to worry about the engine stalling.

In an automatic car, there is no need for special operations such as a half-clutch when starting or when shifting gears. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the engine stalling due to a mistake in clutch operation like in a manual car.

In addition, anyone can start smoothly by using the above-mentioned creep phenomenon even when starting uphill, which is considered difficult for a manual transmission vehicle.

What are the disadvantages of an automatic car (AT car)?

Automatic cars have the advantage of being easy to operate that manual cars do not, but there are also disadvantages due to easy operation.

There is a danger of a sudden start from an erroneous operation

As automatic cars are easy to drive, there is also the danger that they are prone to operational errors. Many traffic accidents caused by the wrong pedal, which have been increasing in recent years, have occurred because automatic cars can start the car just by stepping on the accelerator.

In the case of a manual car, the clutch operation is required to start the car, so just stepping on the accelerator will not cause an accidental start. Therefore, the possibility of an accident due to a false start is lower than that of an automatic car.

Of course, the latest cars are equipped with an erroneous start prevention function even in automatic cars, but this function does not always work perfectly in all cases, so be careful.

There is a risk of causing the “fade phenomenon” and “vapor lock phenomenon”

Automatic cars usually don’t slow down just by turning off the accelerator. You can activate the engine brake by changing the shift to “2” or “L”, but you can’t activate the engine brake just by releasing the accelerator like a manual car.

Therefore, it tends to put a burden on the brakes for deceleration. Heavy use of the brakes, such as when going downhill, can cause the brakes to overheat due to friction between the brake discs and the brake pads. The troubles that can occur when this happens are the “fade phenomenon” and the “vapor lock phenomenon”.

The fade phenomenon is a phenomenon in which the friction force of the pad decreases due to overheating of the brake, and the effectiveness of the brake deteriorates.

And the vapor lock phenomenon is a phenomenon in which the brake fluid that conveys hydraulic pressure to the brake pads boils due to high heat, and air bubbles are generated, preventing hydraulic pressure from being transmitted and the brakes not working.

If both occur, the brakes will not work (difficult to work), so it is very dangerous because you will not be able to slow down or stop the car in an emergency.