To cop out of manual lessons and go automatic? Any experiences or advice greatly needed

(119 Posts)
WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 09:26:59

So I've had about 16 hours of driving manually...and I absolutely hate it. Can't enjoy lessons at all because I'm constantly panicking about approaching junctions and making sure car is prepared to pull off and if I'm in the right gear..that my handbrakes up etc etc etc. then when I drive I'm a complete klutz at changing gear..think putting it into first instead of third on a busy main road.

I've just had enough of it. I just want to drive an effing car without thinking about clutch control and the biting point and all the other things that I clearly am unable to multitask. I have co-ordination problems as it is although thankfully spacial awareness and reaction timing is always good.

Anyway, can I have someone's permission to switch to automatic lessons? Already heard all the 'bad' stuff about automatics and how it's better to drive manual etc. anyone got experience in doing this? Or advice ? Anything?!

TWinklyLittleStar Thu 18-Apr-13 09:29:55

You have my permission. I don't see the problem unless you have a job where you'll need to drive a manual fleet car.

I take automatic lessons, in fact I have one in a couple of hours.

I love it, I love driving. I doubt I would if I had to worry about gear changing though (can't physically use gears anyway).

Go for it!

You will still need to remember the hand brake though obviously.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 09:32:06

Thankyou twinkly. I'm not working at the moment and will only need a car for short trips anyway. I have a baby due in July and am wondering if its at all possible to pass my test in 3 months. Prob isn't but I thought also automatic might be a bit simpler.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 09:32:54

Schro Tell me more about driving automatic as opposed to manual?!

TWinklyLittleStar Thu 18-Apr-13 09:33:43

Driving without gear changing is fairly simple, you have three months, some experience and plenty of motivation - go for it! Make your own life as easy as possible.

tabulahrasa Thu 18-Apr-13 09:34:18

16 hours isn't a lot you know though - I'm sure the average before sitting a test is wouldn't be as high as that if everyone had mastered it after 16.

For what it's worth I hated lessons, and in fact hated driving for a good year after I passed my test (I needed to be able to drive, it wasn't something I did because I wanted to) and now I quite like it.

toomanycourgettes Thu 18-Apr-13 09:35:06

Try and persevere with manual - it really should become as natural as breathing with time. Are you able to go for sessions with a friend in an empty car park or quiet road and just practise changing up and down gears for half an hour.

Automatic cars are ok if you live in America with huge freeways and everyone travelling at the same speed for miles and miles, but they really aren't great for any driving where you accelerate and decelerate a lot, and if you have to accelerate quickly they are shite.

DSil only drives an automatic and has been limited in her use of car because her DH will not drive an automatic, so they have a manual car, and many of the cheaper car hire companies don't keep a lot of automatics for hire.

Feminine Thu 18-Apr-13 09:36:53

I can drive both.

It takes away the worry (when you first start) of rolling and the gear changes.

But, you know, after driving a manual for a while it becomes second nature and is easy too.

If I was in your position I'd go automatic though, one less thing to worry about.

I fine that with an auto, the brake and gas seem to do more (if that makes sense) you don't have the gears to do any work!

Good Luck!

Feminine Thu 18-Apr-13 09:37:12

I *find

Convert Thu 18-Apr-13 09:37:24

I only learnt in an automatic because we had one and I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. I had 5, 1 hr lessons with an instructor, decided I didn't really like him and wasn't getting much from the lessons so I learnt in our car with DH and FIL. It took me less than two months of learning before I booked and passed my test. Piece of cake!

I would go for it, more and more cars now are automatic, especially family type cars.

BumBiscuits Thu 18-Apr-13 09:38:12

I have had both manual and automatic cars and my current car is automatic.

I massively prefer to drive an automatic. My last but one car was an auto. I had a manual for a couple of years in between and insisted that the new one would be auto again.

Saying that, I like having the ability to drive a manual when I need to.

The clutch and gears aspect of learning clicks into place over the space of one lesson and you wonder why you were fussed about it before.

My advice would be try another few manual lessons and if you still feel the same, go auto.

HeathRobinson Thu 18-Apr-13 09:38:32

Presumably you could always pass a manual test later anyway, and by then everything else would be second nature.

Why not try a lesson in an automatic and see what you think then?

lemontwist Thu 18-Apr-13 09:40:04

I drive an automatic at the moment though have held a manual licence for 10+ years. Didn't plan to buy an automatic, its just what came up but I love it and would definitely consider one again. I can imagine that if you had problems with gears you would find it much simpler.
It would limit you if you would ever have the need to drive other cars. I've borrowed cars on several occasions but never an automatic.
Go for it, especially if you want to get passed quickly although I'm sure you'd get the hang of gears if you persisted.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 09:40:11

I know I haven't had many hours at all but I want to make my life as easy as possible. Dh already said he will get me an auto at some point. I don't want to persevere with manual because I feel I'm wasting hard earned money on it. I want to go to my lessons and just get on with driving, not panicking and flustering all the time due to the clutch or fcuking the gears up.

tabulahrasa Thu 18-Apr-13 09:41:30

'I have a baby due in July and am wondering if its at all possible to pass my test in 3 months. Prob isn't but I thought also automatic might be a bit simpler.'

I passed my test 5 years ago, started lessons in the middle of June, passed on my 3rd attempt in the beginning of September. I did 2 or 3 (whichever I could fit in) 2 hour lessons a week.

I have no spatial awareness, my co-ordination is shockingly bad and I genuinely hated it to start with - I insisted on driving round an industrial estate for the first three lessons because I was too scared to go onto actual roads until my instructor very nicely told me to get a grip, lol.

I always say that if I could learn to drive, anyone can smile

freddiefrog Thu 18-Apr-13 09:41:42

I can drive manual but started off with automatic lessons

I had a few manual lessons but just couldn't get the hang of changing gear. Switched to automatic for a while and once I got the hang of driving and felt more confident, I switched back to manual.

I haven't actually driven a manual car for years though, the last few cars we've had have been automatic.

EasilyBored Thu 18-Apr-13 09:41:49

I struggled at first, but one day it just 'clicked' and changing gear is just natural now. I think sometimes the problem is just over thinking what you are doing, and after a while changing up or down is just a matter of muscle memory. I would try and persevere for a bit longer with a manual, as you can always drive an automatic after your test, and you have the flexibility to then drive pretty much any car.

I actually struggled with an automatic when I was in the USA, I couldn't cope with the way it rolled forward unless you were braking and added to the whole wrong-side-of the-road nightmare, it was all a bit too much for me!

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 09:42:00

Thanks everyone for the replies smile

Sokmonsta Thu 18-Apr-13 09:42:22

I passed a manual test 7 years ago. But last year got a new car which happens to be automatic. I was terrified. I'd never driven an auto before and the first time was, well interesting. But I love it now. It is so easy and my fuel economy is much better.

If you want to pass your test sooner rather than later you have nothing to lose by going for an auto. But if you ever want to drive manual cars, you will have to take your test again. For that reason alone I would persist if learning in a manual car then get a automatic once you've passed.

I passed my test in a manual car, and drove a manual for a while. Then I stopped driving for a long time, and after DC2 was born I decided to try again. I had refresher lessons in a manual, and was able to drive our family car. When DC 1 started a new school, and I moved jobs to a new location, my MIL gave me her old automatic car as we needed two cars. I loved it! I do a lot of town driving, and I think it's fine.

I know people say you need to be able to use a manual if you want to drive, but I just don't get that. There are loads of functions that we trust the car to perform without us having to do it so I don't see why changing gear is any different.

The only thing I would say is that if you can only drive automatic then it does restrict you when buying a car, or hiring one.

I'm due in July too! grin

I haven't actually tried a manual so can't compare but driving an automatic is like driving a big bumper car, I like that I can concentrate on the driving part rather than worrying about gears and the clutch.

We've been doing the country roads for the past couple of weeks and it is so much fun, I look forward to every

CuriosityCola Thu 18-Apr-13 09:44:24

I would highly recommend automatic driving lessons. Ignore, ignore, ignore all the myths and rubbish that surrounds them. My first automatic lesson was amazing. For the first time I felt like I was in control of the car and that my awareness of everything around me was at the level it should be. Far more aware of hazards, than thinking about gear changes.

As a side note, I don't automatics are just suited to the US hmm. I live in a city centre and it makes driving much easier.

orangepudding Thu 18-Apr-13 09:44:30

It took me many many lessons to get used to using gears. One lesson it just seemed to click and become second nature but it was very close to my first test.
I did tell my instructor I wanted to change to automatic but he refused and said I would get there eventually and thank him later. Also we have a manual car which dh would not change for an automatic!

Hopasholic Thu 18-Apr-13 09:45:14

Well I passed my test in a manual car but.......... I found that afterwards I really struggled driving my own car ( an old one!). I stalled all the time and it really dented my confidence and I sold it & didn't drive for a year.

I now have an automatic yaris, it's really old but looks brand new & drives like a dream. My DH has since bought an automatic & he drives all over the country. His has an override option for accelerating ( on motorways for example). Mine doesn't but I can say I've had any problems. It's great!

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 18-Apr-13 09:45:14

I drive a manual at the moment but have driven lots of automatics too and much prefer them. The only proviso is that the automatics need to be slightly bigger engines in order to cope. So if you're likely to want a little car with a small engine, automatic would not be the way to go. If you're looking at a family-sized car with a decent engine capacity, automatic would be no problem.

CuriosityCola Thu 18-Apr-13 09:48:09

It is more than achievable to pass in 3 months. Just tell your instructor your aim and getting booking lessons, theory, test. You can cancel your test up to 3 days before and not lose your money. The waiting list around here is 8 weeks at the moment. Might be worth getting your theory done ASAP. Then trying a couple of automatic lessons to see if you like it before booking test.

grin at huge bumper car. This is how I described it to my instructor.

WilsonFrickett Thu 18-Apr-13 09:48:43

There is so much BS talked about automatic cars. I have an auto and I love it. My DP's last car was a BMW 5 series <not a stealth boast honest> which went like shit off a shovel - and it was an auto too.

The only issue with autos is you may pay a little extra if you have to hire one, and there aren't as many about if you want to buy one - especially in smaller engine sizes (I have a Fiat 500 and it was the only auto for sale in Scotland at that point) but neither of these things would make me go back to a manual tbh.

BegoniaBampot Thu 18-Apr-13 09:48:48

husband and I both drive automatics and wouldn't go back to manuals. don't agree with being rubbish here and stopping and starting - that is where they are great and for hill starts and queuing.

but they are more expensive, use more petrol and you are more restricted to what is available, cost more to rent etc. Glad i learned in a manual so I can drive both if needed.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 09:48:55

Schro grin Have you booked your test? Is your aim to pass before baby is due?

I live in London so no pressing need to drive, but what with three kids if would make my life easier to be able to take them out to further places occasionally as well as do the weekly shop in one day. Dh drives manually and I don't think it would be a bad thing if I could only drive an auto. I'm used to walking everywhere and getting cabs in emergencies or everyday life.

I've had 12 hours so far learning in a manual, and I only "got" the bite yesterday

For what its worth, I would advise persevering (sp) Get someone to take you to a quiet car park and just practice making the car move in first gear using the clutch. I did this for 10 mins or so yesterday with my instructor and all of a sudden it just clicked. I managed to travel in very slow traffic, up hill, without touching the brake. Its liberating once you get it!

Have you spoken to your instructor about it? (s)he should know by now if you're capable of driving a manual. If you live anywhere near me (Lancs) then I would definitely recommend my instructor. He is the most patient man I've even met, even when I bounced off a kerb and buckled his wheel! blush

LimeFlower Thu 18-Apr-13 09:51:09

I was in the same position a while ago(minus the baby),hated driving with passion.I stuck to manual and passed the test.Changing -the arse of-- an instructor and switching from petrol to diesel car helped me a lot.Diesels are easier because to reach the biting point you just have to raise the clutch-not coordinate accelerator and clutch (which I find nearly impossible to do).Good luck whatever you decide.

Ricola Thu 18-Apr-13 09:51:44

i would say go for it. i faffed about 10 years ago trying to learn in a manual car...failed the test and that put me off for 10 years!!!!!!! so last year i took automatic lessons and loved it! i am happy to say i passed the test in october last year!! best of luck

slipshodsibyl Thu 18-Apr-13 09:53:46

Automatic is much easier, in any driving conditions, than manual. I travel a lot though and hire or borrow cars which are generally manual. If this doesn't apply to you I can't see any point in struggling with manual as it will take a lot of driving practice for manual to become second nature and if you don't keep using manual occasionally, you will lose that ease of use anyway.

I haven't booked my test as my instructor said the average lessons needed is 2 per year of your age? I have done 10 hours so far and think I would get bored after nearly 50! I would love to sit the test before the baby is born.

I live on the outskirts of Glasgow (hence all the country road lessons), a bit out of the way from anything so really need to learn.

piprabbit Thu 18-Apr-13 09:58:14

Can you not book a one-off 'taster' session in an automatic? See if you feel significantly more confident in the auto and then book more lessons on that basis?

Hugglepuff Thu 18-Apr-13 09:59:17

I passed my test years ago in a manual car but now drive an automatic. ( cos I got a bit nervous about changing gears - no idea why !) I love automatics but am sort of glad that I can drive both , just in case I ever need to drive DH's car. If you don't think you'll ever need to drive a manual , stick to automatic - Go for the one you feel most comfortable with smile

elah11 Thu 18-Apr-13 10:00:35

I agree a lot of people talk crap about automatics, they are perfectly fine to drive, I have been driving one for years grin. If thats what you prefer then go for it and dont mind any nay sayers.

gordyslovesheep Thu 18-Apr-13 10:02:39

I felt like you and I did try automatics but I went back to manual quickly - I felt really unsafe in the automatics, like I was not in control.

I passed after 18mths and 3 goes - I love driving now and using my gears is second nature. If you learn automatic you will never know the joy of engine breaking grin

BlingLoving Thu 18-Apr-13 10:05:52

YABU. If you were already good at it after 16 hours, I'd be completely shocked. Learning to drive is not something you just pick up quickly and do. It takes a lot of practice before it becomes automatic. Please do not give up. There is absolutely no reason you cannot learn.

However, I would say that if you're really struggling, you should take a step back. I was not allowed by my father (who was my driving teacher) to even go onto the road until I had mastered the basics of clutch control. And I was taught how to do that in a large empty parking lot for a few weekends in a row where I only had to concentrate on gear changing and not worry about traffic, road markings etc. It's unrealistic to expect to be able to learn all the skills you need at once.

Think of it like you would learn the piano - you don't learn to play two different things with both hands in the first few lessons. YOu start with just one hand, then you add a second hand doing something really simple and then over time, you add extra complications to both hands.

sudaname Thu 18-Apr-13 10:14:27

I passed my test in a manual so am still licensed to drive one but unfortunately my first car was an automatic and eventually after many years of driving an auto l just cant cope with gears now. But it doesn't affect my quality of life and on the plus side it is one less thing to think about when driving.
Downsides are - cant drive DHs car or most other peoples cars if a situation arises where that would be useful, higher petrol consumption and automatic cars are generally more expensive than their manual counterparts.
I wish really l had kept my hand in with driving a manual tbh.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 10:15:42

Like I've said Bling, it's about making life easier for myself to be honest. I was admittedly fine in the manual but didnt like how I felt which was panicky and unsafe a lot of the time.

StanleyLambchop Thu 18-Apr-13 10:17:14

Is there any problem with availability of automatics if you had an accident and needed a courtesy car? If so, I would be careful of ruling out manuals altogether, I know everyone always thinks it won't happen to them, but even when I had a small bump my car was in the garage for 5 days, and I would have had great difficulty without a courtesy car. Insurance policies often do not guarantee like for like courtesy cars, you mainly have to accept whatever the garage can supply- and that would most probably be manual.

sudaname Thu 18-Apr-13 10:20:04

Yes good point Stanley it is more difficult to get an auto courtesy car.

<goes to book refresher lessons in manual>

BlingLoving Thu 18-Apr-13 10:25:09

That's fine Waynetta. but you asked if YABU and IMO, you are.

I find it frustrating that you never hear a man say, "oh dear, I really don't think I can drive a manual so I just won't" and I'm afraid I think women who choose to do this just reinforce the stereotype of women as bad drivers.

On a practical level, I agree with all the comments above about things like hire cars and other emergency situations. DH and I currently drive an automatic, but on our last holiday we were borrowing a car from family so it was manual. If we weren't able to drive a manual, that would have been a real problem and would have cost a fortune in hire cars.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 10:28:27

Stanley point taken, but as I stated earlier, it would never be an actual problem if I couldn't drive or hire a car for however long. School is 2 mins walk over the road, cab service and buses here are fantastic and I don't work at the moment anyway. I would just like to be able to take the kids out a bit more as well as do the food shopping in one day. I wrote this all above earlier. Family all nearby too! Maybe I'll do manual in the future just to have it, but for now easiest option is auto.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 10:30:40

Bling loving What on earth has this got to do with women being perceived as bad drivers for choosing automatic?!

Really strange comment there. You should start another thread if you want to air opinions like that.

woozlebear Thu 18-Apr-13 10:31:06

I give you persmission. I'm absolutely terrified of learning to drive (really ditzy about understanding how roads and traffic works, so can't cope with idea of worrying about gears as well), and I plan to learn auto.

You can always get an auto license and then when you feel more experienced go for more lessons to learn manual and change your license.

I think people in the UK can be really snobby about manual driving. I don't know enough to comment about the issue of acceleration in autos, but really, what kind of driving are you going to be doing? Are you a boy racer? hmm My DF drove automatics most of his life out of sheer preference, and DH has been converted after we got given a second hand car of DF's. The only practical downside I think is that hire cars will be much more expensive, you won't be able to drive most other people's cars in an emergency (how often does that happen though?). Surely no insurer would give someone a car they couldn't legally drive, though?

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 10:31:56

I do hope you're aware that many men as well as women opt for automatic over manual grin

Bling Lots of men drive auto too.

I would also say that the people who choose auto because they don't think they can drive manual/don't feel safe are actually smarter than those who keep driving manual when they don't feel safe doing it.

I know I would rather be in a car with someone who is confident and not terrified!

FreudiansSlipper Thu 18-Apr-13 10:36:34

I can drive both started manual went over to automatic

much better for driving if you are in a city. my auto goes off far quicker than my manual did it is fast for a non sporty car

down side is you have less options when buying a second hand car

cherrycarpet Thu 18-Apr-13 10:36:46

YANBU and I feel your pain!! I passed my test in a manual but I much prefer automatics. Unfortunately, after driving an automatic for 11 years, we've now got a manual (long story) and I'm in the process of trying to get used to it. I absolutely hate it and I just can't get to grips with the clutch control at all. It's causing me so much anxiety that I'm avoiding all hills at the moment. Ridiculous I know, especially as we live in a very hilly part of the world!

In a nutshell - I actually enjoy driving an automatic and we're on the verge of trading current car in for one. I would much rather be concentrating on the road rather than worrying about clutch control and gear changing.

My advice - switch to automatic lessons and get rid of that bit of stress in your life! Good luck.

everlong Thu 18-Apr-13 10:37:58

Only read your OP.

Ditch the manual lessons today

Driving an auto is easy. It takes the stress out of driving, you can concentrate on the road instead of worrying about clutch control and hill starts etc.

I have had no trouble hiring an auto car either.

Honestly just do it.

Longdistance Thu 18-Apr-13 10:40:54

If you take a test in an automatic, you'll only be able to drive an automatic.

However, I have a manual licence, but omg why oh why am I driving a manual.
I borrowed my fil car in the summer for a few weeks, but it was the best ever.

Go for it. It's less stressful to drive.

curryeater Thu 18-Apr-13 10:41:00

I think it's just hard to learn to drive and you have to decide whether you have the mental energy to deal with it right now. If you do, do it, and nail it - ie get your licence for a manual car - because it's just done then. But it is not something you learn overnight. But don't beat yourself up about it if you hate it and dread lessons (I did too but I forced myself through it, I had no other responsibilities really, feckless 20-something, so it was ok to have one thing on my plate - up to you to decide whether you want this on your plate if it is like the 20th thing)

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Thu 18-Apr-13 10:50:15

Automatic cars are ok if you live in America with huge freeways and everyone travelling at the same speed for miles and miles, but they really aren't great for any driving where you accelerate and decelerate a lot, and if you have to accelerate quickly they are shite.

This makes no sense whatsoever...!

Surely if you're driving on a freeway at the same speed for miles and miles - in the same gear - you might as well be in a manual as an automatic...? You can get into gear, and then just leave it there.

Why is a manual easier, if you're in a situation where you have to change gear all the time. confused

If you have to spend your entire time accelerating and decelerating, then surely you're better off in an automatic, so that you're not getting RSI from changing the gear up and down every 5 seconds.

I live in a very hilly city with loads of narrow, twisty, turny roads (the exact opposite of an open road freeway) and everyone drives an automatic. Of course they do - otherwise you'd be changing gear every other second and doing tricky hill starts all the time.

We imported our manual with us from the UK, and have bought an automatic as a second run-around, and the automatic is so, so much more practical and easier. I drive both comfortably but totally prefer the automatic here.

everlong Thu 18-Apr-13 10:52:57

I passed in a manual. Took me 4 attempts. I hated driving and as soon as I passed didn't drive for years.

Someone suggested having a few lessons in an automatic. OMG. I loved it. Went and bought a auto car and never looked back..

MrsDeVere Thu 18-Apr-13 10:57:34


I spent twelve sodding years trying to learn to drive a stupid manual.
Failed four times.
Miserable, nervous driver too scared to take my hands of the wheel to change gear, terrified of rolling back on hills and that feckin 'biting point' hmm

Switched to a automatic, passed first time. Whoopeee!

I have been driving for 9 years and have never had to worry about driving a manual.
One downside is that it was a bit trickier replacing my first car when she died. Our mechanic didn't get so many suitable automatics in. But I got one after a couple of weeks.

thenightsky Thu 18-Apr-13 10:59:35

Go for it OP. I passed in an auto in 1985 and have NEVER had any issue hiring cars, finding cars to buy, or feeling restricted in any way. I've driven big 4x4s and small sports cars. Most models now come in with an auto option and there are loads of semi-autos, which you are also allowed to drive... you can drive anything without a clutch.

DD has tried and failed in a manual and lost all confidence. She is starting learning again next week in an auto.

Jossysgiants Thu 18-Apr-13 11:02:22

I drive an automatic even though I ( just about) passed a test in a manual car. I started driving automatic when living in the us after having not driven for years since passing my test. I love it! I do drive my husband's manual sometimes, but I find I don't drive as well in it. With the automatic I can just concentrate on the road. I found the whole gear change thing more than I could handle as well as handling what is going on around me. I would go for it- you could take a manual test further down the line if you want.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Apr-13 11:05:26

I originally got only an automatic drivers licence. My parents only ever drove manuals, didn't know anyone with a manual, and saw no reason I would ever voluntarily drive a manual. Got my licence on my 17th birthday after six months of learner driver (mandated by law here) and only three driving tests. To this date (nearly twenty years of driving) I still have never had any reason to (although I do have a manual licence now as you automatically get given one after ten years of holding an automatic licence in this state). I've only ever owned an automatic, and can guarantee that I will never buy a manual. I've rented cars in at least ten different countries, and never once not been given an automatic car.

I don't think it's really such a bad thing for people to get an automatic licence first then apply to a manual later. It gives them the chance to learn confidence and road awareness with one less thing to worry about changing gears.

BlingLoving Thu 18-Apr-13 11:10:49

I feel I should bow out here because clearly you are looking for people to tell you it's okay. I think YABU for the reasons I've stated - my heart sinks when I hear women talk about not being able to drive manuals, or saying they won't drive on the motorway or using phrases like, "really ditzy about understanding how roads and traffic works" because you just don't hear men saying that, or at least, very very seldom. Driving is a skill like walking or swimming, everyone can learn. It just takes a little time and patience and practice.

But, you're right, it's your right to do what you like. Although maybe next time don't put the question in IABU? grin

smupcakes Thu 18-Apr-13 11:11:52

I have an automatic license and have done for 10 years, I've never had a single issue smile

UniS Thu 18-Apr-13 11:12:08

Mum went for an automatic licence after trying and failing to learn in a manual car. They owned an auto, and have continued to own Autos. Mum was in her late 40s when she learnt to drive. She doesn’t miss driving manual, But her being able to drive has been very useful. I think she is actually a better driver than Dad.

sashh Thu 18-Apr-13 11:13:17

People will tell you you don't have much choice when buying a car but shhh

Exmotability cars are sold either at auction or fairly cheaply. And a lot are automatic.

If I'd had the money I could have paid £1500 to buy my car, a 3 year old Chevrolet lacetti.

Because the motability contract includes annual service/mot/everything they are well looked after cars.

everlong Thu 18-Apr-13 11:16:21

bling my dh has an automatic. He's been driving 25 years. Passed in a manual and is a really good driver.

He was hesitant in getting his first auto but the particular car he wanted was for sale in an auto only. He says he will never buy another manual car.

Automatics are good for drivers lacking in confidence who need to build it up. They help your learn to drive.

MidniteScribbler Thu 18-Apr-13 11:17:07

BlingLoving, I don't think that you can necessarily correlate not driving a manual with being a nervy or ditzy driver. I've never driven a manual, but I also now drive a big 4WD, which I can park better than many fartbox drivers, do a lot of long distance driving without even thinking about it, have driven in at least ten different countries, including a year tooling around on the LA motorways in the US (which I did the same day I arrived in the country, despite having to drive on the other side of the road!), tow a caravan, which I can reverse first time, every time. Only ever been involved in one accident which was someone running up the back of me when I was stationary at the lights. I consider myself an excellent driver, despite not driving a manual. They are two completely different issues.

Nervy and ditzy drivers will always be nervy and ditzy drivers, regardless of what they are driving.

StanleyLambchop Thu 18-Apr-13 11:17:30

Stanley point taken, but as I stated earlier, it would never be an actual problem if I couldn't drive or hire a car for however long

You say that now, but it is surprising how you come to rely on a car without even realising it, and then when you suddenly don't have access to one it hits you just how useful they are!

tillytrotter11 Thu 18-Apr-13 11:17:41

Thenightsky - just out of interest, what is a semi automatic? I've been driving an automatic for the past 20 years and I'm just intrigued to know!

YANBU at all. I am about to do this myself and am attempting to save for an automatic vehicle. Grew up driving an automatic in the USA, stopped driving when I moved to Scottish cities, desperate to be driving again and not feel reliant on my husband for rides to places, the late-night grocery runs, and pretty much flipping everything.

Manual lessons have so far been a semi-disaster. My issue is getting going again after I've stopped. Lots of stalling at busy city roundabouts. Lots of driving instructor trying to psychoanalyze me when I got worked up about my mistakes - never mind that a bad mistake in a car can be fatal (I don't work with him now). DH has managed to take me out in his manual car a few times successfully, but not without one very, very frustrating session (and as we are still married following that session, it seems he is indeed The One).

You can always do an automatic lesson and switch back if you prefer manual. But I think you'll find that you really don't need a manual car for typical city driving. I've found manuals are handiest for pulling onto the highway - you get more oomph from the engine - but they're a pain in the butt for the typical "stop-decision-go" that you'd do on a typical school or grocery run through town.

Honestly, no one will hand you a medal for learning manual instead of automatic. I don't understand why so many people in this country put a premium on it. Better to drive an automatic than not drive at all. You will gain a lot of independence being able to drive in your own car, and that independence is gold.

WaynettaSlobsLover Thu 18-Apr-13 12:28:35

Thanks everyone for all the advice and experiences smile I will def be switching to auto. Just want to concentrate on the road and enjoy driving basically smile

MrsDeVere Thu 18-Apr-13 12:38:59

I was a nervous driver but I am certainly not now.
Learning in an auto allowed me to get over the nerves that were stopping me learning.

I drive as part of my job now and will happily drive down the motorways alone (don't want a medal for it but I know loads of people who won't).

The month after I passed my test DD got sick so I was pretty much plunged in a the deep end. I had to drive in all types of conditions at all times of day and night.

Thank God I did switch to auto and pass the test!

hodgiebreeder Thu 18-Apr-13 12:47:16

I was exactly the same! So ridiculously panicked all the time when learning on a manual that I gave up multiple times. Well, the good news is I have since conquered my fears and just passed my test... On an automatic! grin

I'd say for me it was definitely the way forward. I found I could relax FAR more and actually concentrate on not killing anyone else on the road (!!) rather than being absorbed with what was going on inside the car. With that taken care of I could slowly build my confidence and now actually (almost) enjoy driving. You can always go back and learn on a manual at a later date once you're more confident with the other aspects of driving.

Good luck!!

WilsonFrickett Thu 18-Apr-13 12:48:25

You are right bling you don't often hear men talking about difficulties in learning to drive, feeling nervous, feeling 'ditzy'. However, the single biggest fatal accident group in drivers is young men, so maybe they should talk about it a bit more and find strategies to deal with any problems they have as the OP is doing rather than women shutting up about it.

wundawoman Thu 18-Apr-13 12:51:16

If you only intend to drive an automatic car, then just go for Auto license, it's much easier grin. I supported my dd in this decision because she did not like driving manual. Some people said this would be an issue if she needs to hire a car, but you can always request an auto hire car.

MyDarlingClementine Thu 18-Apr-13 12:59:01

I passed in manual and now drive automatic, its wondrous! I do not understand peoples problem with it unless formula one driver.

I control speed with lifting my foot on and off the accelerator, I can concentrate much more on whats around me, and I am usually able to pull away really quickly.

MyDarlingClementine Thu 18-Apr-13 13:01:30

Everlong I am same as you, passed in manual but didn't drive for years, now we have auto and its brilliant, I was able to get in and drive straight away in-spite of not actually driving since my test!

ruledbyheart Thu 18-Apr-13 13:06:22

I am learning in an automatic, I drove my partners manual for about 3 months and absolutely hated it so when it went bye bye to the scrap yard we bought an automatic so much easier, my confidence behind the wheel is considerably better and I'm happy to drive in public now, yes it does make car buying harder but not impossible and if something goes wrong it can be more costly to fix but to me it's definitely worth it

Icanhasnickname Thu 18-Apr-13 13:12:03

I was like you, so my husband would 'drill' me in gear-location! I would be blindfolded and would have to do things like go from 1st to 5th to 3rd, then he would put it in a gear and I would have a second to feel the stick and guess the gear! Sounds silly, but it really helped.

vivizone Thu 18-Apr-13 13:15:38

Automatic Automatic Automatic ALL THE WAY! l can't recommend it enough. I have tried manual for years and couldn't get with it. I have now had about 20 lessons in automatic with the AA and in process of booking test. The instructor is absolutely brilliant. It's pricey at £28 per hour (I have 2 hour lesson every weekend) but it so worth it. I never thought I would be able to drive but his support and complete faith in me (taking me on motorways/large roundabouts on second lesson!) have been invaluable.

I am Dyslexic and all that remembering on gears etc was killing me. I am desperate to have my own independence by driving. Sometimes I am on the road and I just get this WOW feeling - like I am ACTUALLY DRIVING! ME?!

Give it a go OP, you will not regret it. I promise you. If I can do it, ANYBODY CAN. Good luck.

Chandon Thu 18-Apr-13 13:17:06

I learned automatic, can't see why not, or why it is considered "lesser".

I liked it as I learned to drive in a big crazy city (Rome) and liked having both hands on the wheel at all times and being able to respond quickly.

Why do you need anyone's blessing, OP? Just do what suits you. you don't have to justify this kind of decision to anyone else.

chris481 Thu 18-Apr-13 13:18:10

The dual-clutch automatic gearboxes that started coming in over the last several years mean that the main disadvantages of automatics have been solved. Automatic's performance and fuel consumption is equal to (sometimes fractionally better!) than the manual equivalent. For someone buying a new car, the only reason for preferring a manual is the £1000 saving on the price, and I'd say that's definitely a false economy, as an automatic is so much nicer to drive.

I commute through London. I recently had a manual Fiesta as a courtesy car, I couldn't believe how tedious all the gear-changing was. I did drive a manual for the first ten years and didn't think it was a problem at the time, but there's no way I would go back to one now.

MrsBourneUltimatum Thu 18-Apr-13 13:29:02

You have my permission!

I didn't drive until I was 25- had had what added up to quite a few hours of manual lessons on and off and couldn't do it. I persisted because my dad, grandad and boyfriend at the time were all die-hard "manly men" and thought driving "properly" was important and that basically I think, it came easy to them so it should come easy to me. I really thought I was a terrible driver and that I would never pass my test ever.

I then met my now husband and he said "Why don't you try auto?" which I had genuinely never considered before because of the attitude of the domineering men folk in my life. I found an amazing instructor through a friend and after only 12 lessons and a mere 6 weeks I passed first time. I now drive through central London every day and do far more challenging drives that many people I know who have been driving for years.

I have got a few (male) friends who say things like "MrsBU drives a bumper car!" and my best friends partner is always taking the piss (he bullied her into taking manual lessons and it took her two years and 6 tests to pass) but WHO CARES? I can drive! grin

MrsBourneUltimatum Thu 18-Apr-13 13:30:40

Oh and my dad still says even now "When are you going to do it properly and take the manual test?" Er, never!!

I have the number of an amazing instructor if you are anywhere in the Essex/East London area.

I'm just back from my lesson and we're aiming for me to take the test at the start of July!

You wont regret switching. grin

valiumredhead Thu 18-Apr-13 15:31:49

I did - I never regretted switching.

Both my dad and my dh are experienced drivers, both were HGV drivers and both drive an automatic and would never drive anything else. The days of automatic cars being inferior are long gong. Pretend you are American, in fact I am stunned that we are still using gears, it's such a drag and unnecessary!

thenightsky Thu 18-Apr-13 19:32:39

tillytrotter11 A semi-auto is one where you can opt to change gear if you want, but you have no clutch. You can push the gear lever to + for up and - for down, or you have up or down paddles on the steering wheel. Look at a Smart Car controls - they are semi-autos. My little Brabus roadster is a semi-auto (pic on profile) I just touch a little button on the side of the gear lever to switch instantly between auto and semi-auto. It makes getting away fast at junctions easier.

PrincessScrumpy Thu 18-Apr-13 19:52:39

I've always driven a manual and never had an issue but we just got back from holiday where we hired a big American car - most of which are automatic. I now have no idea why they make cars with gears. My next car might well be an automatic a loved it so much.

ZillionChocolate Thu 18-Apr-13 20:31:13

You're not driving for all of womankind, you're driving for you. As long as you don't blame your difficulty with gears on your vagina, I don't much care what you do!

My experience is this, passed at 17 in a manual, found it ok, but painful on legs. Have only ever had very regular access to autos (parents for 4 years, then my own for 10ish). I do drive a manual from time to time because it's useful to practice (mainly because it's hard for me if I leave it for a year). In my experience European hire cars are usually manual, American/Canadian are usually autos. Courtesy cars are usually manual and if you request an auto (I always do) it's often not possible/can't be guaranteed.

I love my automatic car (which is fast as fuck). I'd never buy/lease a manual but appreciate being able to drive one for the rare occasions it's needed. If I couldn't, I guess I'd get a taxi.

corinthian Thu 18-Apr-13 20:31:58

I only have a licence for an automatic (after maybe about 70-80 hours of lessons on manuals and several failed tests). I found it much easier and have no regrets - much better only being able to drive an automatic than not being able to drive at all.

It does limit you a bit when buying a car and rental cars are more of a pain (and I've never managed to get an automatic courtesy car) but once you've bought a car, unless you are planning to us rental cars a lot, then it's not really a problem.

ZillionChocolate Thu 18-Apr-13 20:35:00

I can't imagine that having passed in an auto (m)any would later take a manual test, but I might be wrong. I'd imagine you'd just live with the additional expense/occasional inconvenience.

MissBetseyTrotwood Thu 18-Apr-13 20:35:16

I hate driving. I did pass on a manual but have not driven one for about 10 years, driving only automatics now. Wish I'd stopped flogging the manual thing ages before I did.

evansthebread Thu 18-Apr-13 20:40:08

I'd definitely persevere with manual. It does become more natural for most.

If it makes you a safer driver, though, go for automatic (but please learn to put the car in neutral with handbrake at traffic lights and don't blind the people behind with your brake lights!). With this in mind, please don't flame me after you've read the next paragraph...

As an ex-driving instructor, I have seen the odd few that have never managed to become decent drivers, maybe eventually passed their test after several attempts - and then, HOW I'll NEVER know! I still see them on the roads on a regular basis and am frankly shocked that they haven't killed themselves or others.

Good luck :-)

evansthebread Thu 18-Apr-13 20:44:41

PS Autos ARE fab, plus the newer ones are have MUCH better fuel economy.

Count me in of the opinion that I also have no idea why they still make manuals (but I am an old fuddy duddy now so prefer comfort and convenience to "driving" a car through it's gears like some sort of macho rally racer)!

ShowOfHands Thu 18-Apr-13 20:53:52

evans, my driving instructor says it frightens him how many instructors teach people to pass a driving test instead of how to drive safely. He takes on a lot of people who have failed with other instructors and they just haven't a clue about how to drive a car in any aware, safe way. He also agrees that some people are never going to be good drivers and some of the best drivers struggle to pass a test whereas a crap driver can be lucky and sail through.

So my tuppence worth is that you learn in whatever car makes you a safe driver.

I started learning in February. I have my final lesson before my test tomorrow. Test is v soon. If I can learn that quickly, anybody can. grin

BegoniaBampot Thu 18-Apr-13 21:03:30

it's a snobbery thing in this country. I've heard people say (who have never even tried automatics) that they are for lazy or wimpy drivers. the fact that america seems overrun with then confirms the point that it's for the less able or lazy. I learned in a manual and drove one for many years and had somewhat the same mindset. Tried my husbands automatic and that was it, it's a no brainer. i think they actually make you drive more calmly and slower, they are just so fucking civilised and pleasant to drive. I don't know many folk that once they have driven automatic, would go back to a manual.

DoTheStrand Thu 18-Apr-13 21:07:59

I passed in my 20s in a manual then didn't drive again until my late 30s when I had some refresher lessons in an automatic and then bought one. If it's a choice between not driving at all or driving an auto then go for the auto lessons - they are easy to drive and leave you free to think about what's happening around you rather that what's happening with the gears.

I haven't had any problems with hill starts, and certainly in the UK I've never not been able to hire an auto. Loads of large family cars are now automatics so if you end up being a two car family there's no reason you'll be restricted to just 'your' automatic. I'm sure there are times when it would be useful for me to be able to drive a manual but they are outweighed by the times it is more useful for me to drive than not to drive.

In your situation I would probably have a couple more double lessons in a manual, maybe with your instructor focusing on gears, but if it's not clicking with you then cut your losses and go for the auto.

Sorry, I think yet again I have said in three long paras what everyone else has said in one grin ShowOfHands good luck with your test.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 19-Apr-13 06:04:44

You are right bling you don't often hear men talking about difficulties in learning to drive, feeling nervous, feeling 'ditzy'. However, the single biggest fatal accident group in drivers is young men, so maybe they should talk about it a bit more and find strategies to deal with any problems they have as the OP is doing rather than women shutting up about it.

Repeating WilsonFrickett's comment, because it's so pertinent.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Fri 19-Apr-13 06:12:02

Just to add, I'm a Kiwi and automatics are de rigeur here.

And our roads couldn't be more different from US roads.

Outside of the cities, ours are all single lane, windy, up mountain and down range, through gorges and all sorts of terrain. The sort of roads that if you were in a manual, you'd be changing gear all the bloody time. It makes so much more sense to drive an automatic on roads like ours.

And quite honestly, if you don't do much more than drive in the town or city - stopping for lights, given way, changing lanes, letting traffic in, slowing down and speeding up constantly - then again an automatic makes much more sense. All that gear changing avoided.

To my mind, manuals are better suited to motorway and freeway driving; not automatics.

MarjorieAntrobus Fri 19-Apr-13 06:27:02

You want to learn to drive.
You want to pass your test before July.
You hate all the gear-changing.

Change to automatic. It is fine. Just do it.

BookieMonster Fri 19-Apr-13 06:28:08

Go for it. I started learning in a manual and just could not get it. Switched to automatic, passed my test first time and have been confidently driving ever since. If your aim is simply to be able to drive from Point A to Point B, why bother doing it the hard way?

valiumredhead Fri 19-Apr-13 08:38:38

If it makes you a safer driver, though, go for automatic (but please learn to put the car in neutral with handbrake at traffic lights and don't blind the people behind with your brake lights!). With this in mind, please don't flame me after you've read the next paragraph...

You aren't taught to drive an auto like that - the whole point is you don't need to touch the gears grin Blinding by brake lights? Surely every car has brake lights on when at traffic lights confused

imour Fri 19-Apr-13 09:44:32

if you feel more comfortable and safer go for it , cant see reason to stick with manual when you hate it so much , there is good and bad in both manual and automatic cars .

extremepie Fri 19-Apr-13 10:53:24

-I find it frustrating that you never hear a man say, "oh dear, I really don't think I can drive a manual so I just won't"-

Actually DH has insisted that he won't drive a manual when he restarts his driving lessons soon :D

theodorakisses Fri 19-Apr-13 12:01:40

I left the Uk years ago and nobody I know has a manual, I don't really see why british people do. Mine accelerates very well away from signals (although to be fair it does has a 5.9l engine) but that is another bonus of automatics.

WMittens Fri 19-Apr-13 12:32:19

A few years ago I would have recommended trying to stick with manual unless it was completely prohibitive (it's true that it becomes natural with practice); however, more and more cars are being sold with automatic, semi-automatic or auto with manual selection gearboxes - you may be eligible to drive those on an auto licence, and possibly even an automated manual gearbox (as there is no clutch, and it will shift automatically).

Manufacturers have started offering cars without a manual gearbox option (and I think this is the way it is going to go, for all but specialist/enthusiast cars), so you are unlikely to be restricted by an auto licence.

WMittens Fri 19-Apr-13 12:38:02


Automatic cars are ok if you live in America with huge freeways and everyone travelling at the same speed for miles and miles, but they really aren't great for any driving where you accelerate and decelerate a lot, and if you have to accelerate quickly they are shite.

This is 100% back to front - on motorways and open dual carriageways when you are driving at the same speed for miles and miles you have no need to change gear - a manual is no different from an auto in those situations. The benefit is in stop-start town driving, where you're going from N-1-2-1-N-1-2-3-1-N-1-2-N all the time.

Accelerating quickly is down to the engine and the gearbox type - if it is a true auto with a torque converter the response is poor (I didn't like it and prefer a manual), however it will become natural with practice, just like changing gear.

If you have a reasonable sized engine with a slushbox auto then it will accelerate just as quickly - it may even be an advantage if someone is completely shit with their clutch control and sit there spinning the wheels in their manual.

WMittens Fri 19-Apr-13 12:40:51


Blinding by brake lights? Surely every car has brake lights on when at traffic lights

Brake lights only come on with the foot brake; hand/parking brake doesn't activate them. With LEDs being common now some people do feel they are painful to look at - it's one of those things that divides opinions. Either way, I think it's more pleasant for the driver behind if brake lights aren't on during a long stop.

TarkaTheOtter Fri 19-Apr-13 12:44:32

"You're not driving for all of womankind, you're driving for you. As long as you don't blame your difficulty with gears on your vagina, I don't much care what you do!"

This from zillion is exactly what I wanted to say on the matter but couldn't think how to put it.

I have a manual licence and drive an automatic. Agree with pps, all new are will have an auto option soon IMO.

musicposy Fri 19-Apr-13 12:54:05

One of my cars is an automatic and one is a manual. I love the automatic for short journeys where I would otherwise have lots of gear changes, or if I'm a bit tired. I prefer our manual for longer journeys, but it's a bigger car whereas the automatic is a micra, which I suspect is more behind my reluctance to take it a long way than the automatic thing per se.

The automatic burns a lot more petrol than the manual when I drive. However, I'm good on gear changes, don't rev, don't brake hard. DH gets half the petrol consumption I do from our manual and I suspect he would be better being insured for the automatic which changes gear for you and would stop him trying to pretend he's a racing driver. grin

My DBro failed his manual test lots of times. I lost count but it had to be 6 or so. He just couldn't get the gears. For a while he accepted he would never drive but then someone suggested automatic lessons. He passed then with no worries. Of course, he only has an automatic licence but apart from restricting his second hand car choice a little, he's never felt any need to get the manual also.

I'd swap if you don't like the gears. If you're only running around town I think you'll like driving an automatic better anyway. Go for it! smile

WMittens Fri 19-Apr-13 12:58:20

DH gets _half the petrol consumption_ I do from our manual and I suspect he would be better being insured for the automatic which changes gear for you and would stop him trying to _pretend he's a racing driver_.

That doesn't make sense - surely he'd get twice the consumption (or half the economy/mpg if he's revving it hard.


Vagndidit Fri 19-Apr-13 13:00:37

Op, I could have written your post word for word yesterday. I've had about 18 hours of lessons and seem to be getting worse with each one. My main issue is that I'm coming with 20 years experience of automatic car driving, on the other side of the road, so the combo of trying to learn a completely new system plus controlling the gears is just throwing for a massive loop.

I also cannot tell if it's just me being over sensitive to criticism or my instructor just isn't a good fit. He seems a bit too fixated on protecting his tires and gearbox over letting me learn from mistakes. I get a lecture about bloody "green" driving during every lesson---whatever that is.

I absolutely dread the days I have my lessons. The roads and traffic do not scare me, but not being able to feel comfortable in that car surely does.

musicposy Fri 19-Apr-13 13:21:19

Yes, WMittens, that's what I meant. Mathematical brain fails again blush

<but I can get good fuel economy from a car> grin

Cakecrumbsinmybra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:22:59

I did learn to drive in a manual (in 3 months, whilst pg OP, like you, but I had tried - and failed- learning to drive about 10 years before that), but we were buying an automatic car anyway. But I felt I "should" learn to drive in a manual and it was fine.

However, since then we have stuck with automatics which DH and I both love. They are just brilliant. The downside is that I really, really struggle to drive our second car, which we've recently switched to a manual.

I think if you have a baby on the way, you should just go for the automatic option - you certainly will not have time to have driving lessons after you've had the baby, for a good while.

Cakecrumbsinmybra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:26:14

Acceleration is no problem whatsoever - our automatic accelerates as fast as a regular car. We've also just upgraded and it has 'stop/start' technology (or something), meaning that the engine stops when you've braked for a certain length of time, cutting fuel consumption, fumes, etc.

Blistory Fri 19-Apr-13 14:52:55

I do rally driving as a hobby - have a manual Subaru for that which I adore but will be replaced with a semi automatic when the time comes.

However at home, automatic every time. People who bang on about manuals as being a superior driving experience usually over rate themselves as drivers or haven't driven a car with a decent auto box. Yes, you can feel more engaged with the driving experience, yes it's easier to get the tail out and yes, it's easier to control the engine speed but who really drives like that every day ?

Doesn't mean you're a better driver just because you can slot a gearlever into place. That would mean anyone who drives an old car without syncromesh and has to double declutch is a much better driver.

If you're better able to concentrate on the road ahead when you're not worrying about gear changes then go for it. There will come a time when the majority of cars in the UK are automatic and we're well on the way.

Good luck with the test when it comes.

valiumredhead Fri 19-Apr-13 15:40:13

I have a Subaru Blistory they are bloody fab. I had the last one for 10 years and nothing ever went wrong with it, the only reason we part exchanged it was because we wanted air con, leather seats and dh wanted to put a tow bar on the back so it made sense to upgrade. If we had the room to keep it we would have as it was still going strong.

We were the only people out and about in the recent snow because of our fab snow gears grin

Jammybean Fri 19-Apr-13 15:59:22

I also second keeping at it. It took me a good 25-30hrs to actually get the hang of the clutch/changing gear without getting flustered. I eventually passed second time round after about 50hrs of lessons. It was expensive but definitely worth it. I'd also recommend changing instructors if you're not totally comfortable with the one that you have at the mo. I also found that having just 2 hr lessons a week meant that I often forgot what I had learnt the previous session. I ended up doing 2 or 3, 2hr lessons each week and I passed in no time. I can recommend a really good instructor if you're London based.

valiumredhead Fri 19-Apr-13 17:25:54

If you are London based even MORE reason to drive auto!

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