Standard vs automatic??? Standard Of Course!

Apr 8, 2001

The Bottom Line Unless you have physical limitations, buying a standard is the best choice in almost all situations

So, you’re thinking about buying a new car… standard or automatic? Not an easy decision!
There are many reasons to favor the automatic… easier to drive, in certain vehicles a better resale value, more sensible if many people drive the car and more appropriate if you have medical conditions limiting your ability to use a clutch and stick shift. For people with severe arthritis and decreased mobility or paraplegics a standard is out of the question. As well, with a standard transmission car, you’ll find eating breakfast or talking on the cell phone in traffic almost impossible (none of us do these things anyway, do we?). However, for most other people, a standard transmission equipped car is just the smarter and more appropriate choice in almost all circumstances. Let’s begin!
1. Standard transmissions are cheaper! You can save $800.00 to $1000.00 as compared to the price of a similarly equipped car with automatic transmission. As well, mileage is usually better on the standard transmission vehicle. There is a down side and that is the automatic transmission equipped vehicle may be easier to sell and will command a higher price. Certainly, if you're planning to unload the car in a few years, you should consult with the car dealer regarding the projected resale value. If like me, you buy a car with the intention of running it into the ground, this is not a major issue.
2. Driving a standard transmission vehicle is more fun! Once you’ve driven a standard, driving an automatic is boring! If you don’t know what I mean…you have never driven a standard!
3. Standard transmission is eminently more practical. If your battery dies, with an automatic transmission your only next step is to get a boost or call an tow truck. With a standard transmission, you can get a push start and drive to the next gas station (or next state if you want). Driving in winter, if you try to rock an automatic transmission out of the snow (that’s going from forward to reverse repeatedly) you’ll burn out your transmission. Not so with a standard!
4. With a standard transmission, you won’t have as many people asking to borrow your car. It has always astounded me how few people do know how to drive a stick.
5. Better performance. On the highway, a standard with a 5th gear will be eminently quieter than an automatic doing the same speed in 3rd or 4th. As well, you’ll be running at lower RPMs doing the same speed so the wear and tear on your engine will be less.
Thus, for me there is no question which is the right answer in this dilemma….buy a standard! It does take a little time to get the hang of coordinating the shifts to the clutch and it requires a bit of finesse to let the clutch out without either stalling the vehicle or riding the clutch and burning it out. However, in the long run, you’ll enjoy driving much more with the standard and reap the financial benefits associated with it.

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