Generally in the USA, do normal road cars have automatic gearboxes?

I mean for your average car-owner in America, will they have to use a gearstick to shift gears whilst they are driving?

As I have heard, normal roadcars in US predominantly have automated gearboxes. Whereas in the U.K., the majority of normal roadcars have manual gearboxes (i.e. you must use the gearstick to change from 1st gear to 2nd… and so forth).

And if the answer is yes, then when you pass a driving test in the US, is it on manual or automatic?

For example in the U.K., you can (legally) drive a manual car only when you have passed the manual driving test. However to drive an automatic, you can pass either the manual or automatic driving test. So basically to pass the manual driving test gives you much greater flexibility.

However I have heard that in the US if you pass the automatic driving test you can drive both automatic and manual (stick-shift) cars. Is this true? And if so, why the hell do they do it? Isn’t it really really dangerous to allow someone to drive a car that they cannot fully operate? Or do they consider (Stateside) that if someone can drive an automatic they’re pretty much equipped to handle any roadcars?

And do these rules/regulations differ across state boundaries? Does what apply in California also apply in NY?

Oh, and on a more general note (for everybody) what the hell is the fascination in driving a manual vehicle anyways? Other than it being a little cheaper than an automatic, of course.

Manual also gets better gas mileage, has better acceleration and power in general, has cheaper repairs, is generally more reliable over the lifetime of the car, and is more fun to drive. You’re more involved with the proces of controlling the car.

But yes, most cars in the U.S. have automatic transmissions.

As far as I know, no special license is needed anywhere to drive a manual anywhere in the U.S. Certainly nowhere I’ve lived!

Most cars in the U.S. do have an automatic rather than manual transmission. I will try to look for the percentages but there are still a few manuals around. They primarily tend to be in:

  1. Sports cars
  2. Very inexpresive entry level cars
  3. Small trucks
  4. Utility vehicles such as larger pickup trucks used for hauling and of course commercial trucks (18 wheelers).

The average american family car or SUV however, has an automatic transmission and almost all rental cars do.

I know how to drive both.

I forgot to mention that cars with a manual transmission are also a bit less likely to get stolen.

Well, if you can’t drive a manual, you just don’t drive a manual. No big deal. It’s not that big a problem since most cars are automatic.

I also don’t think it’s that dangerous to drive a manual car badly. You’re probably not going to cause a bad accident by grinding your gears or rolling backwards while stopped on a hill.

Probably they assume that you just won’t try to drive a vehicle you don’t know how to drive. Or that if you are stupid enough to try to drive a stick shift without knowing what you’re doing, the big danger is that you’ll mess up that car’s transmission rather than that you’ll endanger other drivers.

There’s no special test for manual vs. automatic here in the US. There’s the driving test, period, and you can take it in whatever vehicle you feel most comfortable driving. (There are special licenses required for motorcycles, large passenger vehicles like limos and buses, and commercial trucks, and you have to take them in the appropriate vehicles, but they’re completely unrelated to the general drivers license.)

This doesn’t seem silly or dangerous to me partly because people aren’t going to be out driving a stick in traffic until they’ve pretty well gotten the hang of it, except under extreme duress. You know, emergency situations where you’re the only one who can drive and the only vehicle available is a stick. Let’s face it, the odds of that happening are really, really, really low around here. And even if you are driving a manual you’re unfamiliar with in traffic, the odds of you causing an accident are pretty low. You might tangle up traffic some with the herking and jerking and stalling, but you’re not likely to be running into people or getting run into. The risk just doesn’t seem worth the hassle of having two separate driving tests, driving licenses, etc.

As everyone said, most American vehicles are automatics. Most of my vehicles have been manuals because I enjoy driving them.

This may have been true a couple of decades ago, but it’s not true today. The modern automatic will generally outlive the rest of the car, needing no repairs at all in most cases before 200k miles. With a manual, you’re going to have to replace a clutch sooner or later, usually much earlier than 200k (though those have also become more reliable than they used to be - I remember the old VW beetles, which needed a new clutch every 60k miles or so).

The proof is that manufacturers’ long-term power train warranties always cover an automatic transmission, but don’t cover the clutch in a manual. They know what they’re doing!

Yup, most all cars are auto unless you specifically order them in standard/manual transmission, same with vans, SUVs and light trucks=\

Which seriously SUCKS as I would love a Touareg, but they dont come in stick=( <insert lots of creative invective here at american automobiles and autos for the US market. BLEEP VW for not making it , or making it available in the US :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: >

hijack: what kind of penalty is there in the UK if you drive a manual with an automatic license? As bad as driving w/o a license at all?

Last time I read the statistics, something like 90% of all new cars sold in the US were automatics. Many models simply do not offer a manual transmission, or only offer one with the smaller engines because they don’t have a manual that can handle the horsepower. There’s just not much of a demand for stick shifts, lots of stop-and-go driving is a pain with a stick.

With modern 5 and 6 speed automatics, the advantages of stick shifts are going away. Computer controlled slushboxes with manual override are probably going to eliminate the manual transmission.

I still drive a stick shift. :cool:

We just had something in our local paper about manual vs. automatic transmissions. I liked the author’s comment that the only people that will be driving stick shifts in the near future are those that don’t have enough to spend on a car or those that have way too much to spend on a car.

For me, I learned to drive on an automatic, but within a year had learned how to also drive a manual for a job I had working in a U-Haul dealership. I’ve owned both types over the years, and will pretty much stick with an automatic now because of the reliability issue so eloquently explained by Early Out above, and because I hate getting stuck in traffic driving a car with a stick.

Personally, I don’t see why anyone would want to drive a manual. It seems lile it would be more trouble shifting in traffic than is needed. Autimatics meem like they would be much easier to drive.

(For the record, I drive an automatic, never driven a manual, have no idea how to use a clutch, or shift gears.)

Yes. If you drive a manual, and you don’t have a manual license, you will be treated as if you don’t have a license at all.

Only to the cars transmission.

I love my manual. I don’t care for automatics, tho’ we own two. Any car I buy for my primary vehicle most likely will be a manual. And if it isn’t offered in a manual, I won’t buy it. Since I’m really not interested in mid-level sedans, I don’t see that this’ll be a problem.

Female and American.

As for the question as to why people would want a manual. As it was said before you feel more in control, and better power.

Example: My wife and I were car shopping (we both drive manuals). She founf a suberu Forrester she liked (like a smallish SUV on a car chassis. Safe, great gas milage, etc.

We test drove the automatic, and even going up a slight incline from a stop it seemed like we could get out and WALK faster uphill. Now this wasn’t some olf fashioned automatic, this was a brand new 2004 (at the time). So it had the latest automatic transmission. It seemed to take forever for it to go up the hill.

We settled on the manual, which with changing gears and proper accelleration you have much more power.

This is because there is a loss of power in the automatic due to the viscus coupling, and due to there being usually one fewer gears vs the manual. While it’s clearly not there on this Subaru, the improvements on many family sedans which have much more power than the Suby to begin with, make the problems for the most part disappear.

But I still bought a manual Subaru Outback for the reason that in snow I feel that I have better control of applying power to the road/ice/snow than I would with an auto.

This is the wrong way to look at it.

An automatic requires more expensive maintaince and a failure is 5X as costly than a manual.

This is how I look at it:

An auto generally requires ATF changes in the 60K KM range (going by what I remember of my dreaded 92 Voyager). An ATF change is roughly $45 (for a 5L pan change) to $200 (CAN) for a complete flush (12L plus filter and new gasket) with a fancy machine. Although the basic requirement was a pan change, the flush is a much better choice but much more expensive.

My 6 speed requires gear oil every 44K KM. $40 for synthetic 75W90. No filter to change.
After even 1 interval, an auto will cost more to maintain.

And once an auto fails, stuff gets expensive. Just the tranny computer in my 92 Voyager was $800 CAN. More than a new clutch for my Matrix.

I think it’s also going to skew the numbers for the manual because more manual drivers are “car people” than slush box drivers (in general). I’m fanatic about changing my fluids where as your average joe doesn’t care. Although I drive my 6 speed hard, I expect it to last much longer than my past autos.