It’s an issue we have to deal with every day at Ralph’s Transmission. Obviously, we work with all types of cars, trucks, work vehicles and RVs. We handle just about every make and model you can imagine. However, all automobiles will fall into one of two categories: automatic transmission or manual transmission. As a consumer, it’s important to understand the basic differences between the two and how these differences affect your car’s day-to-day performance and your ongoing transmission maintenance needs.

How Gears Are Shifted

The basic function of shifting gears is essentially the same when comparing automatic and manual transmissions. The primary difference is in how the gears are shifted. With a manual car, the driver will use the stick shift and the clutch to manually shift between gears while driving. It takes practice and a good understanding of when gears should be shifted up or down for ideal driving performance.

Automatic transmissions have what’s called a torque converter and some other components that perform the shifting of gears internally. The driver just needs to put the car into “Drive” or “Reverse,” then all the shifting occurs automatically as the vehicle accelerates or decelerates. It’s a simpler process for the driver, which is why most average people will prefer automatics.

Which Should You Buy?

All things being equal, manual transmissions will generally provide better fuel efficiency than automatic. Of course, with the growth of hybrid, electric and other eco-friendly solutions (most of which are found in automatic vehicles), this is becoming less of a factor for consumers when deciding what type of transmission they want. That said, a manual transmission car is almost always less expensive at the dealership compared to the exact same car with an automatic. This may still influence your buying decision.

Manual transmissions (aka stick shifts) are definitely more complex to drive. The percentage of drivers in the United States who know how to drive a stick is getting lower every year. However, depending on your driving needs, where you drive and how you drive, a manual transmission may provide better performance.

Transmission Maintenance

Regarding maintenance, manual transmissions are usually easier to work on because their gear boxes and internal shifting systems are less complicated. Some mechanics will charge more to work on automatic transmissions, depending on the problem. Otherwise, general maintenance like changing transmission fluid, filters, gaskets and seals are required no matter what type of transmission you have. Things wear out with more use and time, so it’s important to keep your transmission maintained for optimal driving performance.

At Ralphs’ Transmission, we charge a single flat rate fee for all custom transmission rebuilds we do in our Modesto shop. Whether you have a large or small vehicle, foreign or domestic manufacturer, or automatic or manual transmission, we’ll take care of it for the same affordable price. We dismantle it, replace any bad components, rebuild it piece by piece, reinstall it and thoroughly road test it to make sure it is running like new again. We are very thorough and every transmission we rebuild is backed by our 3 Year, 100,000 Mile Warranty. We are committed to quality and we want to get you back on the road. It doesn’t matter if you have an automatic transmission or a manual transmission. You can bring your car to Ralph’s Transmission and count on a commitment to quality!