It’s a pretty common question people have when purchasing a car. Assuming you know how to drive stick (or are willing to learn), you always have a choice between an automatic transmission and a manual transmission. Some people will see the sticker prices on new cars and wonder why the ones with manual transmissions are usually less expensive. Yet, manual transmission vehicles seem to be getting more and more rare, at least in the regular passenger car world.

Well, we’re to answer your questions and help you understand the key differences between automatic and manual transmissions.

What Does the Transmission Do?

First, it helps to understand what the transmission does in a vehicle. In a basic sense, it takes the power being generated in the engine and transfers it to the wheels. Different gears and components in the transmission enable you to control the speed of the vehicle. Whether the transmission is automatic or manual, its purpose is exactly the same.

Driver Control – Automatic vs. Manual

The main difference from a driver’s perspective is how the transmission is operated while driving. In this case, the names say it all. A “manual” transmission requires the driver to do the shifting between gears. There will be a clutch pedal and a gear shift that you have to operate. Some drivers prefer having this type of control and there is a reason why truck drivers, sports car drivers and offroad enthusiasts will always choose a manual transmission.

The “automatic” transmission, by contrast, basically does all the shifting work for you. You put the car into Drive or Reverse, hit the accelerator and it goes. As you drive, the car’s computer determines when shifting up or down between gears is necessary. It’s very simple from a driver’s point of view.

Mechanical Differences

Naturally, the simpler it is for the driver, the more complex it is inside the transmission and overall drivetrain system. Automatic transmissions will utilize a torque converter that does all the shifting work that you would have to do yourself in a manual transmission. An automatic transmission will also have what’s called a planetary gear system. A manual transmission will have a flywheel attached to the engine’s crankshaft and a clutch disk that is also important. So, there are some different components at work in each type of transmission.

Transmission Maintenance and Repairs

When it comes to maintenance, both manual and automatic transmissions require the same kind of care and regular servicing. Transmission fluid and transmission filters need to be changed periodically. Gears, clutches, gasket seals, pans and other components can get worn out over time. When your car doesn’t seem to be running right, it may be a transmission problem and it is best to get it checked out by the transmission specialists at Ralph’s Transmission in Downtown Modesto.

It’s true that some manual transmission vehicles may need maintenance and repairs more often, and that is usually due to the driver’s habits. If you are really hard on the clutch and like to grind the gears a lot, components will likely wear out quicker.

What’s Your Preference?

Ultimately, manual and automatic transmissions both perform the exact same function in any vehicle. Usually, it just comes down to the driver’s preference. Some people like having the extra control and the feeling of shifting the gears manually. Most people are just content to let the automatic transmission do all the work.

Whatever type of transmission you have, trust your vehicle to the team at Ralph’s Transmission for all transmission repairs, transmission services and transmission maintenance. We have your needs covered with a commitment to quality and an excellent warranty program. Call us today at 209.526.1909 or schedule a service appointment online.