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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?!

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

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

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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 12:32:19

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.

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.

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

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 .

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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