Why Are Manuals More Fuel Efficient?
Manual transmission cars, or stick-shift cars, have been around for a long time. Even with the advent of automatic transmissions, manual transmissions still remain popular among a subset of drivers. But why do some drivers prefer manual transmission cars? One of the main reasons, and perhaps the most significant, is that manuals are more fuel efficient than automatic transmissions.
How Manual Transmissions Work
Manual transmissions rely on a clutch pedal and gear stick to shift gears. The driver must engage and disengage the clutch pedal to switch gears, which means they have direct control over the engine’s RPM (revolutions per minute).
This direct control means that a driver can adjust the engine RPM as needed, depending on their driving conditions. For example, if a driver is driving uphill, they might need to downshift to maintain the appropriate speed and keep the engine from overexerting itself. With a manual transmission, the driver can do this with ease.
How Automatic Transmissions Work
Automatic transmissions, on the other hand, utilize a hydraulic system to shift gears. The driver simply has to press the accelerator and brake pedals while the car does the rest. The transmission will shift gears automatically based on the car’s speed and the driver’s inputs.
While this may seem convenient, it means the driver has little control over the engine RPM. This lack of control means that the car is less fuel efficient than a manual transmission car.
Why Manuals Are More Fuel Efficient
The ability to directly control engine RPM gives manual transmission cars a significant advantage in terms of fuel efficiency. By keeping the engine in the optimal range for fuel consumption, drivers can extract the most energy possible from each gallon of gas. Automatic transmission cars, by contrast, don’t allow drivers to adjust the engine RPM as precisely. As a result, they consume more fuel.
Another reason why manuals are more fuel efficient is that they tend to have fewer gears. For example, a manual transmission car might have five or six gears, while an automatic transmission car might have eight or ten gears. Fewer gears means there is less friction between gears, and less friction means less energy is lost as heat. This translates to better fuel efficiency.
The Bottom Line
While manual transmission cars require a bit more effort to drive than automatic transmission cars, they offer significant fuel savings over the life of the car. This is especially true for drivers who do a lot of city driving, where stop-and-go traffic can take a toll on fuel efficiency. If you’re in the market for a new car, it might be worth considering a manual transmission car to help you save money on gas.