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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!!!

monsterchild Tue 30-Apr-13 21:44:11

I live in the land of the automatic transmission (USA) and they are not more expensive to maintain. If the clutch goes, you're sunk in either car, really. And if you have kids it's easier in an auto as you can hold something and drive without using your knees to steer.

that said I have a manual and I love it, but appreciate the ease and utility of the auto. There's no shame in either.

tyaca Tue 30-Apr-13 21:43:59

if automatics had been invented first and then manual introduced, say, ten years ago, no-one would switch over.

My ILs think i'm bonkers for only taking any auto test. i still haven't heard a convincing reason otherwise. the best they have is that i then won't be able to drive a manual. er, ok then. i'll just make sure my car is an automatic then.

DrivenNutty Tue 30-Apr-13 21:41:30


Thank you for your reply smile

I don't envisage a scenario where I would have to hire a car . . . . I think . . . . . . . uh oh, hope I haven't just jinxed myself . . . . hehe . . . . . I love the fact that biting point, clutch control and all that other yucky stuff is a thing of the past for me smile

DrivenNutty Tue 30-Apr-13 21:37:26


Yes, autos are indeed "amazing"!!!!! I am glad that I saw the light sooner haha . . . . . . .I wasn't hoping to have mastered the gears in the few hours of manual lessons I did have, but as I was flaffing about with them, it just occurred to me that the hours I spent driving up and down the same road trying to master gears and clutch control, I could have been actually driving on the proper roads, getting some important road experience. And I was right in the sense that in my first auto lesson, I drove on the roads - something in my 9 hours of manual I never achieved!

Good luck with your lessons and your eventual tests smile

Branleuse Sat 27-Apr-13 14:38:21

it took me a lot longer than 4 lessons to master gears. you might be hoping for too much too soon if you thought it would be that quick.

I've recently gone over to automatic lessons and wish I hadn't wasted so much time with a manual. automatics are amazing

CiderwithBuda Sat 27-Apr-13 14:32:22

Only saw thread but would have recommended switching to the auto! I spent a fortune on lessons in manuals and I did finally pass on my third attempt but I hated driving. We moved overseas to a country where expats didn't drive and I didn't drive again for about 8 years. Then came to having to drive. We had an automatic at that time and DH took me out a couple of times. OMG. So much easier.

Yes its more expensive to hire cars but how often will you do that? I do it lots and DH moans occasionally so I'm considering trying a manual again. But can't see myself enjoying it. So much more to go wrong!

DrivenNutty Sat 27-Apr-13 14:29:04


You will absolutely be amazed at how easy it is to drive an auto! Wth your accumulated hours of road experience, you'll be whizzing around in no time smile Good luck with your lessons and eventual tests. I am now loving my lessons - I even managed bay parking all by myself in my last lesson!! Next lesson will be paralell parking. Instead of being nervous and feeling sick to my stomach, I am looking forward to my lesson smile

DrivenNutty Sat 27-Apr-13 14:24:23

Hey all,
Thank you so much for your kind and positive words. I am feeling the love hahaha smile

I was having quite a sh*tty day, just generally feeling sorry for myself really, logged onto here and all your words have put a genuine smile on my face. So thanks all!

Right, now I am going to attack the pile of dishes in the sink and might even give the bathtub a scrub! haha!

By the way, I have booked my theory - so am currently swotting up and just can't wait to be driving (something which I never though that I would ever say). It seriously is like a heavy weight has been lifted from me, not having to worry about clutch control etc etc! smile

OrbisNonSufficit Thu 25-Apr-13 09:44:25

Absolutely stick with the manual. Such a hassle to be restricted to an auto forever - cost, hire cars etc etc. Also I think driving a manual teaches you more about cars and makes you a better driver. The trick is to learn how to sense the clutch point without having to worry about all the other stuff like traffic. When I was learning my mum took me to a local car park (deserted) with a slight slope and made me practice hill starts for ages. Do you have a friend with a car you can practice in for a few hours?

BornInACrossFireHurricane Thu 25-Apr-13 09:39:02

Glad I have come across this thread! I've booked an automatic lesson in the next cuple of weeks- I have had manual lessons (with different instructors) and a fair amount of road experience in the past but I keep giving up. I need to pass quickly and I'm too sleep deprived with two toddlers to faff around.

Hope your lessons are still going well OP!

Lomaamina Sat 20-Apr-13 20:47:20

Thanks for the update driven - I'm so pleased to hear you've joined the chosen few who know that driving is more than manipulating a stick grin. You're well on your way to a licence now.

LunaticFringe Sat 20-Apr-13 20:23:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ImpatientOne Sat 20-Apr-13 20:10:30

Great news Driven smile

Although I have a manual licence 3 of the 4 cars I regularly drive are autos - mine is the only manual and when I next change my car I will be going auto!

Good luck with the lessons and test!

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.

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..

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.

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.

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.

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 . . . . . .

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 27-Mar-13 13:19:13

Thank you smile

All the best to you!

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 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

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) . . . . . .

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

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