When it comes to learning or driving a car in Singapore- we have two choices. Manual transmission cars or automatic transmission cars. Some people swear by to drive manual cars where as some love the convenience of automatic cars.
However, given the emotions and desires of the car enthusiasts as well as considering the car market in Singapore, should you opt for manual or automatic cars ? Let’s have a detailed look at what are the pros and cons and what you should invest your time and money in.
What is manual or automatic transmission ?
For the beginners amongst us, lets have a look at what is a transmission. To explain it in simple words, your car engines has to be connected to the wheels to move the car ahead or back.
Engines have different gears and their sizes vary so as to make the car move smoothly at lower speed or higher speed. Thus if you need the engine to move the heavy weight of your car from stationary position, you need a gear of different size v/s when the car is already in motion and you are making it go faster.
Based on the speed and various dynamics, the gears need to be changed. These gears needs to be interchanged while driving the car at different speeds, thereby transmitting the engine power to the wheels at different speeds.
Now this changing of gears and transmitting of drive can be done manually by the driver or automatically by the car. Hence the definition of the manual transmission or automatic transmission.
When cars were first designed, the drivers had to always shift gears manually. However, as technology has evolved , the car have been designed smart enough to detect your speed and switch gears appropriately for you.
This is a convenience for some , however some of us dislike this as this disconnects you from the real feel and joy of driving. Let’s have a look at how manual and automatic transmissions work, so that we can gauge which ones would be better for you in Singapore.
How does manual transmission work ?
As we saw the engines’ selected gears needs to be connected to the wheel for the car to move. In manual transmission , one starts the car by disengaging all the gears. This makes sure, when the engine is switched on- it does not transmit power to the wheels right away. Once all the checks are done, the driver manually presses the clutch, which makes the gear ready to be engaged.
As the engine is already moving its parts, and the wheels are stationary- you need to make sure the clutch and gears are bought into contact slowly and gradually. If done perfectly, the car starts moving. If you let the clutch go quickly, the difference in the speed of the gears in engine and the stationary wheels makes the car stall.
As the car attains speed, the driver manually presses the clutch and shifts gears with the stick. Thus the driver has the control over which gear he or she wants to engage with the wheels. Off course, if you are on higher speeds one needs higher gears, however, he or she has the control. Say if you are driving at the speed of 20km/hour, you could either choose the second or the third gear if you desire although not efficient.
How does automatic transmission work ?
In an automatic transmission, one starts the car by engaging the breaks. As soon as you disengage the breaks, the car starts moving. The car’s computer has automatically selected gear 1 for you and moved the car. One then presses the accelerator or the gas pedal and the car moves ahead. You need not worry about pressing the clutch, selecting the gears and engaging the engine’s drive with the wheels. All was done for you by the car.
Benefits and Pros of manual transmission cars
- Cheaper cost of purchase: As we learnt, in manual transmission cars, the driver shifts the gears. Thus the module in the car which shifts gears for you is not required. This reduces the initial cost of purchase.
- Lesser maintenance cost : Manual cars have lesser expensive parts as compared to automatic, which relates to lesser maintenance costs as well.
- Fuel efficiency : Manual cars gives the driver the ability to control the gears. In Automatic cars, the computer is designed to stay on a safer gear and not necessarily the best gear. Thus as a driver, you could improve the fuel efficiency of a manual car.
- Theft chances : Although the car thefts in Singapore are rare, we would consider this as an advantage here. Given the introduction of automatic cars, a whole generation has passed who do not know how to drive manual cars. A person who looks to steal your car must know how to drive a manual 😀
- Control to the driver : Manual cars give more control to the driver on various terrains like steep climbs etc.
Cons of manual transmission cars :
- Steep learning curve: In order to learn manual car, one needs to understand the mechanics of how a car works and how to engage and disengage clutches. This results in to a steep learning curve for newbies.
- Increased risk of stalling for newbie : As a newbie, one needs to practice and learn more about the biting points and releasing the clutch at appropriate times. This might lead to lots of stalling if one does not grasp this technique quickly.
- Higher manual intervention– When one is driving manual, one has to pay attention to the steering wheel as well as gear stick frequently. This requires more manual effort from the driver. This could be a problem for newbies when they would like to focus only one task at a time.
- Long drive is a problem when no one else can drive : If you plan to go one a long drive with couple of your friends, and not many can drive a manual- it would lead to a hectic drive if you are the only one who can drive a manual car.
Benefits, Pros of automatic transmission cars
- Easier to use and learn : In automatic transmission, one does not spend much time to master the smooth engagement of gears and releasing of gears. The focus is mostly on learning other bits like starting, managing the steer etc. Thus compared to manual transmission, automatic transmissions has a smaller learning effort.
- Less restrictive to drive : While driving an automatic transmission car, your hands are on the steering wheel most of the time. Compared to manual cars, you reach out to the gear sticks quite frequently thus handling the steering wheel with one hand. This can be problematic for some. It also boils down to safety for beginners.
- Reduced risk of stalling : Since the automatic transmission picks the right gear for you every time you stop or move the car, there are very less changes of stalling for an automatic transmission.
- Better in heavier traffic : In order to manually change gears, one has to keep on pressing the clutch pedal and release it slowly to engage the gear when the car is moving from stationary. In heavier traffics, cars tend to spot and move frequently and hence one may have to keep changing gears frequently. Thus creates fatigued and sore legs for some drivers. Automatic transmission cars are better and easier to drive in heavier traffic.
Cons of automatic transmission cars:
- Higher maintenance of automatic : Since the car changes the gears for you in an automatic transmission car, the module comes with a cost. The components that determine the appropriate gear based on speed and managing it for the driver is costly and has an increased maintenance cost compared to manual transmission cars.
- Little bit of higher fuel usage : The automatic transmission cars usually try to keep the driver safe by deliberately choosing a safer gear. Thus not always the car would be moving in the best optimal gear. This causes little bit of higher fuel usage as compared to manual cars.
- If you have a automatic only license you can’t drive manual: This is a con towards who are thinking of getting and automatic only driving license. In most countries, owning a manual car driving license grants you the right to drive an automatic transmission car. However if you do have an automatic only driving license, you may not be allowed to drive manual transmission car.
Why people like manual cars.
Given all the pros and cons, some people swear by manual cars. Some of us love to drive manual transmission cars. This is all because driving an manual car gives the driver control over the car as compared to automatic transmission. In an automatic transmission, the driving part may get monotonous and boring for some.
A best analogy for manual v/s automatic transmission cars would probably be food. Since we Singaporeans love our food, we would best understand this.
Driving an manual car is like getting the right ingredients and cooking your food to your taste and liking. You do add and remove ingredients as you wish and at the end of the day eat what you cooked as per your liking.
On the other hand, driving an automatic transmission car is something like buying pre cooked food from seven eleven and heating it. All the ingredients are pre determined, all you are doing is heating the food.
Manual v/s Automatic Car market in Singapore
When it comes to buying or learning to drive an manual or automatic car in Singapore, it might have other factors to consider as well.
In Singapore, majority of the cars are automatic transmission. You’ll find very few manual transmission cars. Having said that, based on the demand and supply rule of economics, the market for automatic car is more in singapore.
Thus if you do own an manual transmission car, you might end up have a hard time in the resale market too.
Should you buy automatic or manual car in Singapore
Now that we know all the pros, cons and market of manual v/s automatic car in Singapore, what should you buy?
We would ask the below questions to help you determine.
- Do you love manual transmission? If yes- buy an MT car.
- Are you ok with the after sales market scenario? If yes buy a MT else an AT.
- What would be your usage of this car ? Would you be driving in heavy traffic ? If yes- we recommend an automatic transmission car vs an manual transmission car in singapore.
Should you learn to drive manual or automatic in Singapore
If you are new to learning to drive and plunging upon the thoughts of learning to drive a manual or automatic transmission in Singapore, answer the below questions and hopefully, these will help you decide what you should learn.
- Will you just drive in Singapore or overseas too? If you do foresee yourselves travelling often or staying abroad for a while, where you may not have access to automatic cars (is rare, but may happen). If so, it is better to learn manual.
- Are you a car enthusiast who likes the feeling of shifting gears ? If you are an enthusiast , you know the answer to this. We bet you would prefer learning manual transmission cars.
- Do you foresee yourselves driving Class 4 or higher ? If you ever see yourselves learning to drive higher classes automobiles, the requirements for those is to know how to drive a manual transmission car.
- Do you need to learn and drive in Singapore quickly ? Are you only planning to only drive in Singapore and need to learn to drive quickly. If so, automatic transmission would suffice. Most cars in Singapore are automatic transmission cars and learning an automatic car is faster.
- Do you believe in being flexible ? If you are an advocate of being flexible and prefer to have the right to drive both manual and automatic with one license , go for manual transmission car lessons.
Hope this article has cleared all the doubts of manual or automatic transmission cars in Singapore.
If you are new to the world of cars and car insurance to be specific, consider our article to learn more about various types of car insurance in Singapore. If you do know about car insurances in singapore, consider learning more about ways to save on car insurance in Singapore
Once you have mastered the manual or automatic transmission car in Singapore and you intend to buy your first car, do have a look at continental v/s asian cars in Singapore.
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