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Automatic v manual - help please!!!!

(38 Posts)
DrivenNutty Tue 26-Mar-13 14:19:37

Hi all,

I have recently started taking driving lessons in a manual car. The instructor is great and she says I am making good progress. This is my second attempt at learning to drive - my first attempt was back in my youth (I am 31 now) and it scared the life out of me. I made my excuses to stop the lessons and never went back. I have never felt the need to drive and not into cars one bit. So why learn? I hear you ask.

Well, my husband and I recently separated after 10years of marriage and he was the driver. Now it's just me and my two boys and I am sick and tired of having to rely on friends and family to take me grocery shopping and we live 1.5miles away from the school, so everyday, it's a 3 mile round trip for me and my boys in ALL weather. I don't mind walking - in fact I think it's great the kids are getting exercise on a daily basis, but the last straw came the other day when it was pouring down with rain (when is it never?) and by the time we got home, we were soaked through.

So I applied for my provisional and signed up for some lessons. The thought occured to me that I am wasting time trying to master the clutch and gear changing etc etc when I could be learning in an automatic and have all that done for me!! I have already spent 4 hours (that's £96) on trying to change gears smoothly and I am still not there yet.

Am just thinking, should I switch to auto? I know if I did, then I'll only be able to drive an auto, apparently they are more expensive to run and to buy with less availability. I literally only want to learn to drive to get my groceries and the school run when the weather is really ghastly.

Any adivce?

P.S sorry for this essay!!!

CarpeJugulum Tue 26-Mar-13 14:26:02

I'd persevere with the manual - it is less restrictive, and there is nothing to stop you getting an automatic if that's what you want.

FWIW it took me about 6-8 lessons to get gear changing smoothly; it then clicked and I've never looked back.

Talk to your instructor about it though - they may have suggestions to help you feel more confident.

Sparklebum Tue 26-Mar-13 14:33:02

I would stick with it. I found it really frustrating at first with the gears but it does eventually fall in to place. Although learning auto seems easier short term it really restricts you and can mean paying more for a car or never being able to borrow either peoples cars.

FWIW I took lessons at 18 and hated it so chucked it. started lessons again at 31 and now at 33 I love driving!

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Tue 26-Mar-13 14:46:32

I've had both types of car, I have an auto at the moment, DH likes it so much he has swapped over too- very simple to drive, never found them more expensive to buy and running costs seem the same. It's great for us as we live in a hilly area and no need for hill starts.

DrivenNutty Tue 26-Mar-13 16:47:21

Hi All,

Thanks for all your replies.

One part of my head is telling me to stick with it (I know I'll get there in the end, more choice of cars and not restricted to just driving an automatic car) and the other part is telling me to switch (because it seems silly fluffing about with clutch control, biting point, gear changing when I really don't have to).

I guess what weakens my resolve is that along with learning to drive, I am juggling two courses (about to start a third at the end of April), the sole carer of two boys, looking after a house, jobsearching and dealing with a potential divorce.

I guess some would say I have a lot on my plate at the moment and to me, anything to 'lighten' the load makes sense. I just want to feel like I am 'cheating' myself or jumping ship when it gets a bit tough. . . . . .

DrivenNutty Tue 26-Mar-13 16:52:32

Sorry, I mean "I just don't want to feel like I am 'cheating' myself or jumping ship when it gets a bit tough . . . . . ."

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Tue 26-Mar-13 18:30:44

Could you not have one lesson in an auto? If its drastically easier, then you could switch. If you find it's not helping you as much as you thought, then stick with manual.

buttercrumble Tue 26-Mar-13 18:35:00

Keep going with the manual i nearly gave up with it when learning because i couldnt get the hang of uphill so glad i stuck with it i wouldnt be happy driving an automatic, have heard a few stories about people ending up crashing into walls and things.

DrivenNutty Tue 26-Mar-13 18:43:40

That could be a possibility. After all, I don't actually know whether it will in fact be 'easier'. I am just assuming and going by what some people have told me. They make it sound so simple - put the car in 'drive' and off you go. No more stalling or worrying about clutch control etc etc . . . . . . It's great having other peoples' opinions on here - you have made such an obvious point that I didn't even see!!!! thanks! ;)

Have so far not heard any horror stories hehe. My sister who has been driving for years (15+) learnt in a manual but started to drive an automatic about four years ago. She said that automatic is much easier but warns of the higher cost and availability of cars. Thank you for your reply smile

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Tue 26-Mar-13 20:50:09

A a seasoned driver, I can categorically say that autos are easier. It's a bit like a bumper car, stop and go. I have never crashed into any walls grin.

DrivenNutty Tue 26-Mar-13 22:01:59

haha! Am glad to hear you have managed to avoid those pesky walls.
I really am sooooooo tempted to switch to an auto. I am looking to make my life easier right now, not harder. I think I might give manual a couple more lessons at least and see how I feel then.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 26-Mar-13 22:05:12

I did persevere and eventually passed on a manual, nearly twenty years ago. I have never driven one since. Automatics all the way for me. I wish I had just gone for the automatic licence in the first place. Learning how to drive a manual was a waste of my time, money and effort.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 26-Mar-13 22:07:04

Not sure how you would accidentally crash a car into a wall just because it has an automatic transmission. Can someone explain...?

MadameJosephine Tue 26-Mar-13 22:15:24

Like you I failed to learn to drive in my youth, i then got married and we could only afford to run one car anyway so he was the driver. Fast forward 8 years and I found myself divorced with a 5 year old and really needed to learn to drive quickly do I took my test in an auto thinking I could always go back and do it again in a manual later if I needed to. That was 11 years ago and I haven't bothered, still drive automatic and tbh I can't see why anybody would want to mess about with gears when you can just have one pedal for go and one for stop lol

DrivenNutty Wed 27-Mar-13 09:18:45

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 26-Mar-13 22:07:04
Not sure how you would accidentally crash a car into a wall just because it has an automatic transmission. Can someone explain...?

Obviously, I am no driver, but I would have thought that crashing into a wall would be due to the driver's lack of skills/carelessness and not much to do with the car (whether it be auto or manual) . . . . . .

DrivenNutty Wed 27-Mar-13 09:23:23


I totally agree with you and it is reassuring that with our similar life experience, you have come out the other end (along with the driving). So I know that it can be done. smile

MadameJosephine Wed 27-Mar-13 11:22:18

It definitely can be done, good luck (with the driving and everything else)

DrivenNutty Wed 27-Mar-13 13:19:13

Thank you smile

All the best to you!

SneakyNinja Sun 31-Mar-13 10:27:18

Depends how quickly you need to drive to be honest. Manuals do have a slight advantage in the fact that you can drive any car/ more selection etc. So if you have the time, motivation and money to persevere then by all means stick it out.

I tried for 4 years to learn to drive manually, eventually I was so desperate to drive, I tried auto, passed my test after just 5 lessons and have never looked back. Do what works for you.

DrivenNutty Wed 03-Apr-13 00:22:46

I want to drive asap!!! MY mind really isn't in it to continue learning in a manual - this might sound really bad, but I can't be bothered to learn about gears and then selective gears, when to change gears . . . . . and what gets me is all this business with clutch control i.e. biting point and not stalling!!! My feet have to do one thing, my hands have to do another and all this whilst I am trying to remember the order everything has to be done in . . . . . . . uh oh.

I actually have a taster lesson booked on Thurs so I can experience for myself how it feels to drive an auto. Will see how I go . . . . . .

Lomaamina Sun 14-Apr-13 16:02:16

I wonder how you got on DrivenNutty? I learned to drive a manual abroad in my 20s, passed at fourth attempt, but never had the guts to go solo. I relearned on an automatic in the UK in my 30s and never looked back. In my experience as a rather nervous driver, an automatic gearbox means you can focus on being safe on the road, rather than worrying about coordinating hands and feet as you change gears.

GreenLeafTea Sun 14-Apr-13 16:11:20

Just switch to an automatic! You know you want to!

I learnt to drive on an automatic around 20 years ago and have no regrets at all.

tribpot Sun 14-Apr-13 16:15:15

I drive an auto. I don't think they have higher running costs, although arguably the fuel efficiency isn't quite as good as a well driven manual because it's less responsive to changing gears. I drove manual for c. 20 years and only got the auto after being given an automatic to drive for a hire car a few years ago. Seemed like a good idea - one less thing to think about and a few extra neurons to put to other, more valuable purposes grin

I think it would be an absolute arse to not be able to drive manual, but I can quite see why it's not a priority for you right now. Passing your test is. I would talk over your options with your instructor. Could you go back and do some kind of manual test when you've already got the automatic licence?

I think the reference to crashing into walls is because autos are like bumper cars.

Dededum Sun 14-Apr-13 16:24:00

Another automatic driver here, learnt on manual many years ago but have been driving automatics for about 20 years. The only time has been a problem when hiring cars abroad, but not recently.

Automatics are more expensive, but loads of second hand options so shouldn't really be an issue.

Never crashed into a wall, best of all no having to worry about hill starts..

DrivenNutty Sat 20-Apr-13 20:03:55

Hey All,

Thank you for your further replies!

Well my taster lesson in an auto has been and gone and I have to say, "wow!" how much easier is it?!?!?!? In that one lesson, I spent more time on the road, gaining road experience than I did in my nine hours in a manual (I in fact didn't venture onto a road apart from the road I was practising on)! I stopped at traffic lights, did left and right turns, went round roundabouts . . . . . and all without worrying about clutch control, biting bite, when to change gear etc etc.

I actually found myself so much more relaxed and was able to concentrate on the road a lot more. So I have to admit that I have ventured over to the dark side haha and have switched completely to auto. I have also found that driving isn't dominating my daily thoughts any more.

Before, I was so nervous about learning to drive that I couldn't relax if I had a lesson coming up. The day before my lesson would be worse, but not as bad as the morning of the lesson. I would constantly have butterflies in my belly, couldn't think of anything else, and just felt sick really. Now all that has gone away and it is so lovely to not have that burden any more.

I do occasionally get a pang of, 'have I made the biggest mistake of not persisting with a manual' but that only lasts for a fraction of a second when my thoughts turn to biting point and clutch control!! hahaha

My instructor thinks I'll be ready for a test next month - in a manual I was looking at September time. So that's a bonus too.

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