By Mick Bailey
Manual transmission, also referred to as a “standard transmission” (and less commonly, a manual gearbox), is a type of transmission that utilizes a clutch that is manually operated by the driver, hence the name. The clutch is engaged and disengaged by a foot pedal for automobiles or by a hand lever for motorcycles and similar vehicles, and by a hand (automobile) or foot (motorcycle) operated gearstick. A conventional 5-speed model is most often the standard equipment for a base-model car. Manual transmission is characterized by certain gear ratios that can be selected by locking the selected pair of gears to the output shaft inside the system.
In contrast, an automatic transmission is one that does the process of changing gear ratios in an “automatic”
manner while the vehicle is moving. To select the transmission operating mode, the driver has to move a selection lever. Many may find this similar to the gearstick of the automatic’s manual counterpart, except that in an automatic system, they usually only move in a vertical direction. There are also vehicles that are equipped with an automatic push-button system to change the transmission modes. Both manual and automatic transmissions also come in several design variations that offer differences in performance.
Though the automatic transmission had its origins in the very first “horseless carriage” of 1904, the system was
only widely available to the public when major American manufacturers equipped their models with automatic transmission systems in the 1950s. In Europe, by contrast, around 80% of drivers still prefer the manual
counterpart. In Australia and Asia, automatic transmission came into the limelight during the 1990s. Automatic transmissions are becoming more common in modern automobiles the just as fuel injection has replaced the carburetor.
Automobiles equipped with manual transmissions have been generally recognized to provide better fuel economy than their automatic siblings, due to the differences in their construction (i.e. the lack of a hydraulic pump in manual transmissions, the presence of torque converters and v-belts in automatics that reduce fuel efficiency). Standard transmissions are also known for their durability and economy of cost, as well as a generally higher performance thanks to the wider variety of gear ratios.
One major drawback of Manual Transmission versus Automatic Transmissions is the steep learning curve needed to effectively utilize the system in a road-worthy manner. Automatic transmission users also tend to be able to shift gears faster than their manual counterparts. Manual transmissions also have the tendency to have difficulty accelerating from a standstill on inclines.
As for automatic transmissions, the ultimate plus will be its relative lack of complexity to use. In some jurisdictions all around the world, people who had passed driving tests for automatic transmission-equipped vehicles are not given a clearance for manual transmissions. On the other hand, those who had passed tests for the latter are given a license for both transmission types.
Because of the perceived superiority in performance, standard transmission is the preferred choice in the equipment of sports cars. Automatic transmissions are seen less in off-road vehicles as well. Similar manual transmissions are also found in trucks, albeit with a more complicated interface. Overall, both manual and automatic transmission
systems have their respective advantages and drawbacks to be considered.
If you have questions about either you manual or automatic transmission call the helpful, knowledgeable and friendly staff ay Meyers Auto Parts at 702 561-6992
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