I used to be very intimidated by the stick shift. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. When I was 18, some friends and I went on a road trip across the country from Ontario to Alberta. The car was a manual transmission and I didn’t take my turn at the wheel until the third day… it wasn’t pretty.
Then, one winter, I got a job in the Rockies, where all we had to drive were trucks… all of them manual. I had no choice… either get mocked for not being able to drive, or suck it up, get over the intimidation of it and learn to drive stick. I learned and I love it!
Why would people choose a manual transmission over an automatic?
Control – Many drivers prefer the enhanced sense of control that comes with the additional attention required to drive a manual transmission They also get better performance when passing, and better road feel when rounding curves and driving on steep hills, especially when they’re slippery. Many also believe that the more interactive style of driving helps them to remain more alert.
Save Money – Driven to full efficiency manual shift vehicles offer the best economy. The acquisition cost alone can save you $1,000 or more, plus the additional taxes and finance charges. Your fuel savings can vary from 10% – 15%, which could easily add up to several hundred dollars per year. Brake replacements tend to be less frequent and transmission repairs do not require a specialist.
Vehicle Choice – Some vehicles come available only in manual shift. This may be especially true of new sports cars during the early stage of their launch into the market. There are also those who derive tremendous pleasure out of driving a manual transmission correctly. For these people sheer joy of driving is unimaginable without a manual transmission. Once they drive one they will probably choose it for life.
There are other reasons, such as:
Travel – Traveling to Europe? Renting a vehicle is certainly a convenient way to wander off the beaten path and discover less well-known attractions. Renting a manual transmission can save you thousands of dollars and you have a wider range of vehicle selection. The fact is, most European rent-a-car agencies rent only stick shifts. Automatics are rare and very pricey. What’s more, even when you book ahead, you can’t be guaranteed of getting one.
Job Opportunities – Whether it’s landing a role in a film or being a hotel valet or a car jockey, knowing how to drive a shift opens up countless jobs.
Emergencies –You’re better able to respond to any emergency, especially if immediate medical attention is required. Possessing the skill to drive a manual vehicle can make all the difference. And save lives. Though less urgent, but equally as important, you can be the designated driver when a friend has had “one too many.”
There are many websites that will walk you through the process of driving stick shift, or you can contact a driving school… either way, I know driving a manual transmission has made me a better driver, and gotten me out of a few slippery situations. I suppose the general rule “Be Prepared” is a good one to take from my driving experience.
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