Differences Between Automatic and Manual Transmissions

Since the dawn of the car age, manual transmissions were the only option presented to drivers. Today, drivers have the choice between sticking with a stick shift or shifting to an automatic. Which transmission will you choose for your next INFINITI model?

Salerno Duane INFINITI set out to demystify the difference between automatic and manual transmissions to help you make the most informed decision while searching for your new ride!

Transmissions 101

Before we dive into manuals and automatics, let’s go over a high-level view of the role a transmission plays in your vehicle. A car’s transmission, whether manual or automatic, shares the same duty: connecting the power of the engine to the wheels. The way in which this connection happens is the major way in which each transmission style contrasts.

Manual transmissions are exactly that: You shift them manually. It takes both hand and foot coordination to smoothly operate a manual transmission. Your foot pushes the clutch pedal to disengage power from the engine while your hand shifts to change gears on the gear shaft for the appropriate speed during your drive.

In an automatic transmission, there’s no clutch pedal involved. Instead, a torque converter that uses hydraulic pressure changes the gears over the course of your ride without any additional driver input. All an automatic driver has to do is shift out of park at the start.

Equally Matched?

In the early days, manual transmissions were more fuel efficient, but today, automatic transmissions have improved their efficiency to the point where mileage differences really are no longer a factor. Some sport enthusiast drivers prefer driving stick to have a better control of engine performance based on the driving situation at hand.

There are many different types of manual and automatic transmissions. The first manuals typically had three forward speeds and reverse. In more recent times, manual transmissions have gone to as many as seven or eight forward speeds.

Automatic transmission technology has kept up with this gear increase as well. Many INFINITI drivetrains come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The advantage to driving a car with more gear ratios (whether manual or automatic) is that additional ratios can better match the engine to the driving conditions needed to move the car, helping to improve fuel economy and drive feel as a whole.

manual vs automatic transmission

Driving Stick and Engaged

Driving Some drivers enjoy the challenge associated with driving stick. Being in control of each speed shift puts you in tune to the driving experience more than driving an automatic. Safety bonus: If you’re operating a manual correctly with both hands and feet, chances are you’re less tempted to be checking your smart phone mid-shift. New manual transmission vehicles also tend to be a little cheaper starting out, since automatic drivers paying a bit extra for the added convenience.

Automatic Advantages

Operating a manual transmission is definitely a more tedious process. Controlling the clutch is an art form that may seem difficult to master for many automatic drivers. Because of this, many new drivers learn to drive a car with the ease of an automatic. If your daily travels tend to put you in a lot of stop-and-go city traffic, an automatic’s ability to shift for you really can’t be beat.

We hope our local drivers in Denville, Rockaway Township, and Parsippany-Troy Hills now have a better idea of the differences between automatic and manual transmissions. If you have any transmission-related questions or ones about INFINITI transmission maintenance, contact our highly skilled auto experts at Salerno Duane Infiniti.

Learn about the warning signs of transmission failure and schedule an appointment with us today!