Should You Learn to Drive with a Manual or Automatic Transmission?

The time has come for you to learn how to drive. You feel excited. You imagine gripping the wheel and revving the engine like the hero in your favourite action movie, and you can’t wait to have this experience for real. However, at the same time, you feel nervous. You hear about car accidents all the time, and you don’t want a silly mistake to ruin this exciting opportunity.

Since you feel so nervous, you’ve determined to analyze every aspect of the driving experience before you start. You’ve studied everything from traffic laws to focusing strategies. You’ve also deliberated whether your car (or your parents’ car) will give you the best driving experience.

No matter which kind of car you have access to, you can learn to drive successfully with the help of a driving school in Vancouver. However, you may have a different experience depending on whether you learn to drive manual or automatic.

Why Does the Transmission Type Matter?

Manual and automatic transmissions force their users to develop different skills. They require different attention spans and levels of coordination. They may also affect your fuel economy and driving enjoyment. One may prove more difficult for you than the other. Consider each type’s pros and cons carefully before making your decision.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Automatic Transmissions?

In North America, the standard car comes with an automatic transmission. This means that the car shifts gears (which it has to do to keep the transmission from breaking or overheating) on its own via an onboard computer. You don’t have to do any work. You simply push on the gas pedal and steer where you want to go.


  • Many drivers find automatics less distracting because they only have to focus on steering, braking, and accelerating. They can keep their focus on the road.
  • Automatics usually prove easier to learn how to drive, probably because of their simplicity.
  • Automatics shift gears faster than manuals, allowing for more uniform acceleration.
  • These cars often prove easier to drive in stop-and-go traffic.
  • These cars often prove easier to drive in hilly areas as well.
  • If you multitask while driving, such as eating with one hand and steering with the other, you’ll do better in an automatic.
  • Automatic transmissions give you more car model options. Again, standard North American cars come with an automatic, so you’ll have more makes and models to choose from.


  • If you learn to drive an automatic, you’ll have difficulty transferring to a manual in an emergency. You might not have the ability to transfer at all.
  • Automatics almost always have worse fuel economy.
  • Automatics almost always cost more than manuals.
  • Automatics almost always cost more to repair than manuals.
  • You have less control over the gear your car chooses, which can prove tricky in adverse weather conditions.
  • Driving an automatic may bore you because you need more power, speed, control, etc.
  • If you don’t want to deal with any of these cons, consider driving a car with a manual transmission instead.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Manual Transmissions?

Manual transmissions require the driver to switch gears instead of an onboard computer. This means the driver has to push down a clutch pedal (which sits next to the gas and brake pedals) and use his or her left hand to move the gear shifter (also called the stick) while steering with the right hand. To shift smoothly, the driver has to maintain a balance between the clutch and the stick—otherwise the car could stall.

Sound complicated? Manuals require more work than automatics, but that doesn’t make them worse to drive. In fact, they have many advantages over automatics.


  • If you learn to drive using a manual, you’ll have the skills to drive any kind of car, whether manual or automatic.
  • You have more control and power, and you can often accelerate faster than you would in an automatic car (at least in lower gears).
  • You have more control in adverse weather conditions, which makes driving safer.
  • Manuals almost always have better fuel economy.
  • Manuals almost always cost less than automatics.
  • Manuals almost always cost less to repair. You don’t have to maintain them as often either.
  • People who drive manuals often have more fun driving than those who drive automatics.


  • Many people have difficulty learning to drive a manual. It often proves too complicated or distracting.
  • If you start on a hill, you risk rolling backward into the traffic behind you depending on your experience.
  • Manuals can prove hard on your joints if you frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic.
  • You can’t eat or otherwise multitask while driving—you already multitask by using all four limbs at once.
  • Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons associated with each type, you can decide which transmission type works best for you.

Which Transmission Type Should You Choose?

Your choice depends entirely on your personal preferences. Do you want something simple that gets you from point A to point B, or do you want something slightly more complicated that’ll feel epic to drive? Consider carefully before choosing.

However, if you have to rent a vehicle or borrow your parents’ car, you should just accept what you have access to. Just keep the information above in mind when you buy your own car. North Shore Driving School offers GLP driving courses in Vancouver, where you can learn to drive on either an automatic or manual car.

For more driving tips, check out other posts on our blog by visiting.

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