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Old 07-20-2014, 07:33 PM
3,046 posts, read 2,634,925 times
Reputation: 2122


Boy most on here would be really lost trying to drive a car with a three on the tree.
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Old 08-22-2014, 12:18 AM
1 posts, read 734 times
Reputation: 15
Most young folks in the U.S. today don't know how to drive manual (standard) because of the lack of access to manual transmission cars and/or people who know how to drive stick. I don't blame them at all, nor do I think that there's any shame to their circumstance. No ridiculing from me. They are the product of a society that does NOT readily avail its driving-aged youth with the option or opportunity to learn how to drive a stick shift. Yes, there are places that will teach you stick, or loan you a stick, but you would have to seek them out. Most kids may not be aware (or are only vaguely aware) of stick shift cars enough to inquire about learning how to drive one, as they wouldn't know what they don't know. I posit that most parents won't even offer up manual trans as a learning option for their 15/16 year old. Why would they? Most parents don't own manual cars. My parents both drove stick back in the day, but hadn't owned a stick shift in 10+ years. My dad taught me to drive in the family automatic Camry. The thought of tracking down a stick shift somewhere for me to learn on didn't cross his or my mind. Don't blame him or me. However, I would discover manual trans for myself eventually.

My story is bittersweet. During college, my parents bought me a new (used) automatic trans car at age 19. I had only tried driving a stick shift once (and failed badly) up to that point. Several months after getting the new car I had the opportunity to gain further exposure to manual transmission (I knew a person whose entire family drove stick, and there were 2 stick shift cars in the family for me to learn on, and older Sentra and Prelude). Thus began my strong strong lamenting of my auto-tragic new car, which I loved, and wishing and hoping that I could have a stick shift instead (a Miata would finally enter the picture, only 5 years later).

I learned to drive 15+ years ago. A few kids in my high school owned stick shift cars, and I was able to squeeze in one lesson then (one where I bucked the car trying to get it to move, and promptly gave up). I would bet that the average kid today in the U.S. would have a tougher time than I trying to track down a friend/family member who knows how to drive stick, let alone one who owns a stick. Ever tried renting a stick shift car in the U.S.? Exactly. There really isn't a place, short of Rent-A-Wreck (even they rarely have any stick shifts in stock) or luxury/sports rental places. What else could one do? Go to the dealership and sheepishly "test drive" such a car? Or do like me, and pony up a couple grand for a used Miata to learn on (highly recommend, great gearbox). It's a chicken an egg issue, one which has exponentially reduced the pool of capable stick shift drivers in the U.S. as time passes. Incidentally, the interest in stick shift in the new car market has started to turn around in the last couple of years. Stick shifts popular again, despite lower gas mileage

Originally Posted by britguy1 View Post
Just out of interest is the driving test different for manual vs autos in America as it is in the UK?


If you pass your UK driving test in an auto, you are only allowed to drive auto cars
If you pass your UK driving test in a manual, you are allowed to drive either.

Originally Posted by Drover View Post
Yes and no. Testing in an automatic and being eligible to drive a stick doesn't really matter since most Americans, and probably 80 to 90% of Americans under 40, don't even know how to drive a stick, have no interest in learning how, and consequently won't ever even attempt to drive one.
Regarding the universal U.S. license that does NOT distinguish between manual vs. auto, here's the problem that our licensing process may cause. If and when a licensed individual decides to learn stick, he or she can get in a manual trans car for the first time (e.g. new purchase at the dealership), and start driving away. Short of the person getting stopped for erratic driving, he may pose an imminent danger to the public if that's his first time on the road with a manual transmission car. And he would be perfectly legal, if not prudent, in his actions. I had driven stick 5-10 times before buying my Miata, and I was a quick learner, but I would bet that the first month or so on public roads I was a much higher risk driver (e.g. stalling in the middle of an intersection) than I would be in my automatic car. As a caveat, U.S. commercial vehicle licenses *do* distinguish between manual and auto, but not so for passenger vehicles.

Do most other countries have separate driver licenses for manual vs. automatic?

Last edited by gabe90034; 08-22-2014 at 12:50 AM..
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Old 08-22-2014, 01:01 AM
3 posts, read 3,132 times
Reputation: 10
For whatever reason, around 20-30 years ago there started to be a massive switch from manual to automatic. I am guessing this is in response to the consumer market. As a result, most 20 somethings and teens don't know how to drive manuals.

When I went to driving school in the mid 90's - all of the cars were auto.

Old auto's were basically garbage. New auto transmissions, especially in the higher end market (BMW / Audi / etc...) are ridiculously good and far superior to manuals in pretty much every way. They get better gas mileage (in eco-mode), and post much faster 0-60 times.

As a die hard manual fan, I effectively see no reason to get a manual in the higher end market. If you drive any of the higher end cars with auto transmissions I think you will be very impressed by them. Gear changes are completely seamless, and they do an excellent job of knowing when to up/downshift. This solves many of the common complaints people had.

So really it starts to boil down to: If you are going to drop 40-60k+ on a car, why would you want to get a manual when it has worse gas mileage and is slower? These cars typically have sport paddles or tiptronic transmissions which allow you to manually shift if you desire. For me it was a novelty at first, but now I just leave it full auto and swap out transmission modes depending on my need.

I've messed with it and... the auto does an amazing job. If I want aggression, just drop the car into one of the sports modes - the response is instantaneous and the difference is amazing. Dropping my car into sports mode takes less time than it does to perform a gear change on a manual transmission.

Lower end cars - I haven't really looked to see how their automatic transmissions are. I suspect that many of them don't offer any sort of sports mode and thus they would feel very sluggish and not responsive. In that case I would still roll with a manual.

But for the higher end market? Yeah. Automatic transmissions blow the manual ones out of the water. This is a big reason why most of the exotic car makers have dropped manual transmissions (like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc...).

So tl;dr - If you care about response / control / power and you are looking at older cars, or lower end market - I'd recommend getting a manual. If looking at newer cars / higher end - chances are you can't even find a manual and it's for good reason. You will be very surprised at how amazing the new transmissions are.
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Old 08-22-2014, 01:36 AM
Location: London
3,885 posts, read 3,323,425 times
Reputation: 1638
Automatic cars make lots of sense and the USA has got that right. They are less stressful. Manual cars are fun on European winding roads. I love throwing my manual around English lanes in hills. It gives a real buzz. Manual shift will disappear as electric drive comes in.
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Old 08-22-2014, 01:39 AM
Location: London
3,885 posts, read 3,323,425 times
Reputation: 1638
Originally Posted by gabe90034 View Post
Most young folks in the U.S. today don't know how to drive manual (standard) because of the lack of access to manual transmission cars and/or people who know how to drive stick.
That is why the military Hummer was auto. Most British buses are auto or semi-auto and have been for about 45 years.
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:51 AM
Location: San Diego
32,798 posts, read 30,025,534 times
Reputation: 17682
Ever row a 3/4 ton truck in heavy traffic? You'll have a huge left quad from all that rowing.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:43 AM
Location: Vermont
5,439 posts, read 14,324,626 times
Reputation: 2609
Americans are lazy... that is what it comes down to.

There are good applications for auto. Plow truck drivers seem to insist on auto. UPS is going auto. Garbage trucks I guess I can see it. But I have never had an auto I preferred over manual.
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Old 08-22-2014, 12:21 PM
Location: North Port, Florida
774 posts, read 1,825,751 times
Reputation: 844
1. There are plenty of roads in the U.S. that are well suited to driving a manual transmission car.

2. By charging $1200-$1500 a pop for automatics, manufacturers figured out long ago that it was in their financial interest to push them.

3. Large full size cars were ideally suited to automatics as drivers saw it as a feature they wanted.

4. I've owned countless stick shift cars and never once can I remember saying: "damn, I wish this was an automatic".
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Old 08-22-2014, 02:46 PM
3,280 posts, read 3,542,348 times
Reputation: 3966
Because they suck.

That is the answer from an average American.

I agree.

Give me a Charger Hellcat with an 8-Speed Auto any day over a manual anything.
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Old 08-23-2014, 05:33 AM
Location: London
3,885 posts, read 3,323,425 times
Reputation: 1638
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
Americans are lazy... that is what it comes down to.

There are good applications for auto.
Like most. Electric drive will mean all are gearless.
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