Better Gas Mileage
Although better gas mileage is not always a guarantee, with some new cars having advanced fuel economy features built in. However these are the exception not the rule, and most of the people that are looking into buying cars are not purchasing a new car. If the car you are checking out is more than a couple of years old, then having a manual transmission is one of the largest factors in improving your gas mileage.
This is because when you are driving a manual, you can shift sooner than an automatic would. You can also skip gears, contrary to an automatic where you have to cycle through each one.
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This may seem like an odd advantage, as often times you hear automatic transmission drivers say that they are not interested in learning manual because it seems like "too much to think about".
It's true that driving stick as opposed to automatic is more to think about, but in this case, it's a good thing. Once you are used to driving manual, you put about as much thought into shifting and working the clutch as you do putting on a turn signal- which is to say nothing. It's just something you do by feel, and on instinct. However, the fact that you are paying more attention to driving is overall a good thing. Typically when you are driving automatic, you may feel more confident with the car cruising in drive, and may feel more inclined to do some sort of distracted driving. Obviously it is still possible to text and drive, and things of that nature, while driving stick, but you are less likely to be considering poor decisions like that. After all- you've only got two hands, and one of them is on the wheel and the other on the shifter.
Fair enough- driving a manual transmission will not magically allow you to both get better gas mileage and have a faster car- it all depends on how you drive. However, in the off chance that you are in a situation where you want more speed, traditionally stick is faster than automatic. Shifts are more swift, and pull outs are faster, assuming that you are competent with the clutch.
This is not always true of course, as many modern car manufacturers have developed automatic transmission that can now shift faster than a manual (BMW is particularly known for this.) There are also tiptronic transmissions or "flappy paddle" gearboxes that can be faster than a traditional stick shift. Therefore it is important to remember that a faster car is not guaranteed. Just like with gas mileage though, if you are not looking at purchasing a new car, then it is almost guaranteed that it will be faster than an automatic... for those times when you need it.
Cheaper maintenance is probably one of the most popular reasons behind driving a manual. For one, generally manual transmissions simply do not go- they are built to last long, unlike automatics which have a tendency to fail in high mileage situations.
If you do ever have to pay for work on a manual transmission, it is more likely just the clutch getting replaced. Typically, there you are looking at hundreds of dollars, as opposed to thousands of dollars like with an automatic. Stick shift is simply simplier.
One thing that is very important to keep in mind here in relation to cheaper maintenance is the cost of an automatic transmission replacement. If you are buying a cheap car, say, you are only spending $4000 on something with a lot of miles on it, then a transmission replacement would be worth more money than the value of the car. In cases such as this, buying a manual should be a lock. There is no reason to buy an automatic when purchasing a cheap car with high mileage, because one of the most valuable parts, the transmission, could start to go bad at any time, rendering the rest of the vehicle useless, and with repair bills costing more than the value of everything else.