Manual Transmission Cars — Are They Worth It?

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Manual Transmission Cars — Are They Worth It?

Tarn Bregman, Assistant Editor

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With only eighteen percent of today’s Americans driving manual transmission cars and only three percent of the cars currently sold in the U.S. being a stick shift, the question many face is if manual transmission cars are worth buying and learning how to drive.

Speaking from experience, I can say that stick shift cars are both a challenge and a joy to drive. I would highly recommend learning how to drive one because the entire experience is a fun challenge.

There is no better feeling than shifting between gears and feeling the car react to you, the driver. The feeling of driving any car can be liberating and for some it acts as a stress reliever; personally, I find this true. However, I think that feeling is heightened when driving a manual transmission car.

Manual transmission cars have a greater gas mileage than most automatic transmission cars and are cheaper to purchase, making them sensible to buy and affordable to keep.

On top of this, they are easily more fun and distraction-free than automatics. The constant need to shift gears keeps the driver alert and focused while still keeping driving fun.

When driving a manual transmission car, the driver really feels the car. The driver can feel the car’s acceleration in their feet, hands, and seat. As the driver shifts between gears, it gives a heightened sense of control because the driver has complete control of the car, unlike some automatics where the Engine Control Unit (ECU) can limit or control the driver’s actions, making the driving experience feel inauthentic.

If you are on the verge of getting your license, or even if you are an experienced driver, I highly recommend learning how to drive a manual transmission car. Being able to understand and control the car’s performance depending on the gear truly makes anyone a better driver.

Going to an empty parking lot and trying to learn how to drive a stick is one of the most tedious and frustrating tasks, but once you get it down it is an amazing feeling. When the car stutters or fails to start as you try to learn how to shift gears, it can feel hopeless. Once you ease into first gear and find yourself smoothly driving down the road you are overwhelmed with gratification.  

If you have friends with a manual transmission car, don’t be afraid to ask if they can teach you. They are becoming harder to find amongst high schoolers, but there are still La Salle students who drive them, many of whom share a common love for driving stick.

“Honestly, I like [driving a stick shift] because it is easier to manage your speed,” senior Noah Gorretta said. “It is easier to keep an eye on your speed, which means you won’t get pulled over as much.” 

Manual transmission cars give complete control to the driver. For example, the driver picks how fast the car goes, depending on the selected gear. Selecting a low revolution gear can allow you to cruise at low speeds, making it easier to stay under 20 mph in areas like school or construction zones.

“I like driving stick shift because it gives you a lot more control,” said junior Trevor Gray. “It is just super satisfying.”

If you can learn to master a manual transmission car, you can drive any car, and driving cars with manual transmissions is much more fun. Once you learn to drive a manual transmission car, it opens up a huge variety of new cars that you can enjoy getting behind the wheel of.

Driving can be more than just a tedious way to travel. It can be an experience. Car rides are made by long conversations, good music, laughs, and the sense of adventure. Learning to drive a manual transmission car can make this experience not only faster, but also safer, cheaper, and more fun. Having the control that a manual transmission offers is the greatest way to experience driving.