How Reliable Are Manual Transmissions?


Quick Answer

If used correctly, manual transmission systems often work through the life of the car. The clutch, which is the most common part to fail in a manual transmission, can often last for hundreds of thousands of miles.

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How Reliable Are Manual Transmissions?
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Full Answer

One advantage of manual transmissions over automatic transmissions is their simplicity. There are fewer parts to break in a manual transmission, and they are generally easier to service if a part needs to be fixed or replaced. The cost of a clutch replacement is far less than the cost of replacing many components of an automatic transmission, and much of this difference is due to the decreased labor requirement. While newer automatic transmissions are considered to be more reliable than older systems, many cars with manual transmissions need only occasional transmission maintenance.

Some advantages of manual transmissions, however, have waned. Cars with manual transmissions used to get significantly better gas mileage than their automatic counterparts due to the planetary gear configuration of automatic transmissions. The slippage once though inherent to automatic transmission design has been reduced significantly, allowing some automatic transmissions to edge out manual ones. In addition, the waning popularity of manual transmissions means that they can be more expensive to produce, so drivers looking to save money may find that vehicles with automatic transmissions offer significant savings.

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