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Auto or Manual

Deciding between manual or automatic driving lessons and not sure which is best suited for you, Here below is some insight to help make a better decision.


A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox or a stick shift is a type of transmission that uses a driver operated clutch engaged and disengaged by a pedal for regulating torque transfer from the engine to the transmission and a gear selector operated by hand.


Following are the basic components of a manual transmission:

  • Clutch Pedal: The pedal which engages the clutch when you press it. Typically this is controlled hydraulically.
  • Clutch: This is a system of components which is used to transmit engine torque to the transmission. It consists of a pressure plate, diaphragm spring, and clutch disc, throw out bearing, and other smaller components. The clutch disc is a friction pad which is sandwiched between the flywheel and the pressure plate.
  • Flywheel: The flywheel is the component which delivers engine torque to the clutch disc. This circular mass has a smooth surface which the clutch disc interacts with.
  • Selector Fork: This arm is used to move the collars along the output shaft to select gears.
  • Collar: The collar is what is used to select different gears. It slides between gears, and can mesh with them. By locking the collar with a selected gear, engine torque passes from the lay shaft to the output shaft.
  • Synchronizers: These are located between the gears and the collar, and allow for the collar to engage the gear even if there is a speed differential between the two. Essentially, this aids in matching the speed of the gear and the collar.
  • Lay shaft: Engine power is directed towards the lay shaft, which contains gears which mesh to the gears on the output shaft. This is also referred to as a countershaft.
  • Output shaft: The output shaft houses the gears, which are on bearings, and thus they rotate with the lay shaft. The only time the output shaft and lay shaft rotate together is when a gear is meshed with the respective collar, and the output shaft will rotate at the rate at which the engaged gear is spinning.
  • Gears: Various sized gears are used to allow for different wheel speeds. Larger gears will provide more torque but have lower maximum speeds. Smaller gears will provide less torque, but will allow the car to travel at a higher speed.


In a manual transmission, the flywheel is attached to the engine’s crankshaft and spins along with it. The clutch disk is in between the pressure plate and the flywheel, and is held against the flywheel under pressure from the pressure plate.

When the engine is running and the clutch is engaged, the flywheel spins the clutch plate and hence the transmission. As the clutch pedal is depressed, the throw out bearing is activated, which causes the pressure plate to stop applying pressure to the clutch disk. This makes the clutch plate stop receiving power from the engine, so that the gear can be shifted without damaging the transmission.

When the clutch pedal is released, the throw out bearing is deactivated, and the clutch disk is again held against the flywheel, allowing it to start receiving power from the engine.


  • Cars with manual transmissions always get better fuel economy than cars with automatics. Manual transmission engines are less complex, weigh less, and have more gears than automatics resulting in a lesser fuel consumption.
  • A car with a manual transmission costs less than the same model with an automatic. On average, a manual transmission will cost you about a $1000 less than an automatic of the same model.
  • The coolest sports cars only come with manual transmissions.
  • If your dream car comes with a standard manual transmission, you can always get an automatic as an option.
  • Cheaper to maintain. Manual transmission cars require very little maintenance because of the less complexity.
  • Less likely to be stolen. With the increasing number of automatic transmissions finding their way onto roads, there’s an entire generation that has never learned the finer points of manual transmission operation. This means there’s a fairly good chance that simply having a manual transmission will be enough to deter the criminal.
  • Better control. Automatic transmissions are designed to choose the best gear for any situation, but they tend to err on the side of caution, shifting to too high of a gear and wasting engine power. Manual transmissions give drivers greater control over the vehicle.
  • Teenagers really, really want to learn to drive stick shifts. When the argument in favor of the stick shift is based on how much fun it is, it’s undeniable.
  • You just can’t compare the durability of a manual transmission with that of an automatic one.


  • Driving a car with manual transmission requires greater degree of skill and application, an inexperienced driver could have his hands full while driving as he has to multi task and concentrate on a lot of things simultaneously.
  • While climbing up a hill, a car with automatic transmission always scores over the one with manual.
  • In a manual transmission smooth and effective shifting of gears can only be guaranteed by an experienced driver.


An automatic transmission, also called auto or self-shifting transmission is a type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually.

The modern automatic transmission is by far, the most complicated mechanical component in today’s automobile.  Automatic transmissions contain mechanical systems, hydraulic systems, electrical systems and computer controls, all working together in perfect harmony which goes virtually unnoticed until there is a problem.


The main components that make up an automatic transmission include:

  • Planetary Gear Sets: These are the mechanical systems that provide the various forward gear ratios as well as reverse.
  • The Hydraulic System: It uses a special transmission fluid sent under pressure by an Oil Pump through the Valve Body to control the Clutches and the Bands in order to control the planetary gear sets.
  • Seals and Gaskets: They keep the oil where it is supposed to be and prevent it from leaking out.
  • The Torque Converter: An important component which acts like a clutch to allow the vehicle to come to a stop in gear while the engine is still running.
  • The Governor: It monitors speed and throttle position in order to determine when to shift.
  • Computer: On newer vehicles, shift points are controlled by computer which directs electrical solenoids to shift oil flow to the appropriate component at the right instant.


  • Easier to use. Although there’s nothing inherently difficult about shifting gears and working a clutch, it still takes a bit of practice before most drivers are comfortable learning to use each of their limbs independently in order to control a manual transmission vehicle.
  • Automatic transmissions, by comparison, are much simpler and take drivers significantly less time to learn.
  • Less manually restrictive. Most new drivers are taught that the safest way to drive is to keep both hands firmly on the wheel at all times. This is possible when driving an automatic transmission vehicle, but is not possible with a manual transmission.
  • Greatly reduced risk of stalling. There are few things more embarrassing and awkward than accidentally stalling your vehicle right when the traffic light changes. This isn’t a common problem for those driving automatic transmission, where stalling will only occur if there’s a mechanical problem in the vehicle.
  • Easier to use in heavy traffic. Overall, more work goes into starting, accelerating, decelerating, and stopping manual transmissions. This isn’t normally a problem, but in heavy traffic where a car isn’t able to get up to speed, drivers may notice that the constant starting and stopping becomes a difficult chore. Automatic transmissions allow the driver to move through heavy traffic without having to do more than.
  • Better for hilly areas. If you’re a less experienced driver, you may find that navigating steep inclines in a manual transmission is difficult, especially if you’re attempting to do so from a dead stop. Automatic transmissions take care of this issue, enabling your car to operate efficiently no matter how steep the hill might be.


  • The gearbox needs changing early and it costs a fortune.
  • They are more expensive to buy in the first place.
  • They use more fuel.
  • They weight slightly more.
  • To be honest, not many problems happen with a modern auto box these days, if you get once the control chip out of order, it keeps on going wrecked with time.


This is a difficult question, because the answer really is that it entirely depends on the driver and their preference.

Basically, automatic transmissions are easier to use and more comfortable for the driver, while manual transmission vehicles are less expensive and more involved. Of course, there are exceptions to any rule and the only way to be sure which one is right for you is to go for a test drive.

Finally, bear in mind that Australian drivers in NSW who’ve taken their test in an automatic car can’t legally drive a manual, where as drivers tested in a manual can drive both ONLY on the Red P Plates, once you go onto the Green P Plates you can drive manual or Auto,  it becomes legal to drive both even if you did your driving test in auto.

Having your Driving Test in NSW in a manual will of course be more difficult and will require more skill to be able to pass the driver test in NSW, but if you know that it won’t matter on the first year of your red P’s and you plane to buy a manual later down the track then do your test in automatic as this will make your test easier. Manual restrictions is only on the RED P plates.

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