A simples guide

Should I learn to drive in a manual or an automatic car?

Learning to drive is fraught with stress and sometimes you just want to get it over and done with as soon as you can. Manual car drivers are always waxing lyrical about the benefits of driving a conventional manual car – ‘you can really feel the car responding to you’ and ‘automatic driving’s not real driving’. But you know, we’re not biased so here we look at both, so that you can decide what’s right for you.

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So, what’s the difference between a manual and an automatic?

Ok, first up, you need gears when you drive a car, they’re pretty useful for changing speeds and creating enough force to make your car, go. In a manual car, you’re responsible for choosing the right gear – get it wrong and you could stall making every other driver behind you roll their eyes and swear. An automatic car, as the name suggests does it all for you so you never have to worry about whether you’re in the ‘right gear’ – just make sure you’re not in reverse.

Car driving into sunset

Which is easier to learn in?

Unless you don’t know your alphabet, an automatic is usually easier to learn in – all you need to do is put your car in ‘D’ for ‘drive’ and off you go. Manual cars will usually have up to five gears and you’ll need to make sure you’re in the right gear for the speed and road conditions you are driving in.

Manual drivers will tell you the ‘skill’ of driving a car depends on your ability to select the right gear and perfecting your clutch control. But if you’re not bothered about biting points and the sound of angry crunching gears hurts your ears, then learning in an automatic could be for you.

Because there’s less ‘to master’ in an automatic car, some learners may find it quicker to pass their test. And the quicker you pass your test, the less money you’ll spend on driving lessons. But, lessons in an automatic car may be more expensive than learning to drive in a manual.

learner driver L plate

Which type of car is better?

Whether your car is manual or automatic, each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. What you see as a benefit will largely depend on the type of driving you do.

If you drive somewhere with lots of traffic, constantly changing gear can be tiring. It can also be distracting whilst you’re looking out for pedestrians, negotiating around roundabouts, paying attention to traffic lights and of course, making a note of the speed limits. Some of the newer automatic cars are also incredibly efficient and can change a gear quicker than you could.

However, manual cars will generally be quicker off the mark and you’ll have more control over the car in conditions like snow and ice. Manuals are also generally less expensive to buy as they don’t use as much complicated tech compared to an automatic car; the expense of automatic cars can also be mirrored in the cost of repairs and servicing for the same reasons.

The decider?

The one big point to make, that might see you persevere with learning to drive in a manual car, is that if you pass your test in a manual, you can also drive an automatic. But if you pass your test in an automatic, and decide you want to drive a manual later on – you’re going to have to re-sit your driving test in a manual car.

Deciding which to learn in, is a bit like buying a bag of 6 doughnuts vs 1 doughnut, with your bag of 6, you’ve got options for later. If you go for just one and decide you want another, you’re going to have to go all the way back to the shop – and can you really be bothered?

Plus, sometimes getting hold of an automatic can be a faff if you need a courtesy car or hire car. Automatics aren’t always readily available and you might need to (for example) defer your service for a bit until they can find one for you.

Decisions, decisions

What you decide to learn to drive in will be down to what’s best for you, but before you get in your car, manual or automatic, you’re going to need insurance. So, grab your doughnuts and a cuppa and start comparing the market. Start a quote telling us a bit about you, your car and your driving history, we’ll do all the leg work for you, all you need to do is find the policy that exactly matches your needs – simples.

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