Stick Shift Myths

The stick shift hasn’t become extinct yet but it’s on the endangered list.

As of model year 2014, just 3.7 percent of new cars were equipped with manual transmissions.

Despite the low numbers, though, defenders of stick shifts still cite plenty of data to bolster their argument of superiority.

Problem is that much of it isn’t supported by facts. In that light, here’s a few myths for you to consider.

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Cars with manual transmissions get better fuel economy

This was true in the past but not so much today. The reason that manual transmissions used to be better is that they were more efficient and had more gear ratios than automatics did. Automatics used to have things called torque converters which transferred power from the engine to the transmission via a fluid coupling. The problem was that in the conversion that a lot of energy was lost as heat. Today’s automatics have “lock up torque converters” Kayser ( explains that lock up torque converters eliminate that tendency at cruising speeds. Automatics today also have many more gears than they used to have so the efficiency argument isn’t as true anymore. Bottom line: on many of today’s vehicles, the automatic version gets better gas mileage than the manual version! Some people, even those that work in the automotive industry, find this hard to believe but its true.

 The best sports cars only come with manual transmissions.

Well, this depends on your definition of “best sports car.” The seventh-generation 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and 2015 Porsche 911 offer a choice of a manual or automatic transmission. Many would argue that these are both pretty nice sports cars. So the fact that high-end sports cars come with both types of transmissions should be an indication that manual transmissions aren’t superior to automatics, just different.

 A car with a manual transmission costs less. 

Does a car with a manual transmission cost less than the same car with an automatic transmission? It depends, most of the time this fact is true, the manual is cheaper, but this isn’t always the case. On many of GMs automobiles the two options are the same price. It depends on the car and the dealer pricing.

Buying a car for a teenager? Teenagers want to learn to drive stick shifts. 

Better run this one by your teen. Many parents say this isn’t true. This may be because there are so few manuals out there, young people don’t get exposed to them, and so they have little interest in learning how to drive them.

Stick shift cars are stolen less

The theory is that because fewer people know how to drive stick shifts these days, cars equipped with them are less likely to be stolen. It certainly makes for interesting discussion but there aren’t statistics to back this up. There are individual stories of thieves who have abandoned theft attempts when they discovered that a car was a standard, though. Its kind of humorous so the media tends to publish these kinds of stories when they occur.

Source: Kayser Chrysler Center

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