If it was up to us, every driver should drive a manual transmission, and drive it well. It’s worth making the distinction that, we’re not referring to the computer-controlled flappy paddle gearboxes, or the faux manumatic (an automatic stick that can go forward and back to select gears). We’re talking about a real stick shift where the shift knob has a hard, physical linkage with a cog of gears, and a clutch must be gracefully danced along with the flywheel.
For some, the sight of three pedals under the dash is far too much, but we’re going to step out on a limb and argue that it’s not. Furthermore, it should be necessary for all drivers to possess the skill and experience of driving a truly manual transmission. Here’s a few reasons we think everyone should drive a stick:
You Better Understand Your Car
First and foremost, to really be able to drive a stick shift well, you need to understand some of the basic mechanics of how an engine and transmission work together. As you learn more about how your automobile functions, it puts you in a better position to be able to manipulate it, and control your vehicle.
It’s A Good Life Skill
This is just common sense to us here at Motoring Brigade, but you need to know how to drive a stick. If you’re ever in a situation where an automatic car isn’t available, and you’re forced to drive a manual, you need to know how to do it.
Improve Safety & Efficiency
Another important point is that with a manual transmission, it gives you another layer of control over the vehicle. Automatic transmissions drain power from the engine, thus decreasing efficiency. They also offer you fewer choices in controlling the speed of the engine and vehicle. Automatic transmissions cannot predict the next hill, a car slowing down in front of you, or obstacles ahead. With a manual transmission you can instantly prepare your vehicle for what’s ahead. You can downshift before that hill, or use your engine speed to help slow your vehicle, and ultimately achieve better control and efficiency.
It’s Just More Fun
This point isn’t really a ground-breaking one, but we think it’s important. There’s something challenging and exciting about mastering the art of the stick-shift manual transmission. Think of it as a way to have more (legal) fun at the wheel. You can’t quite put it into words, but it just feels more substantial and amazing to drive a stick-shift. We submit that (almost) any car is made better and more fun by adding a manual transmission.
If you can’t drive a stick-shift, learn to do it, now. Driving a stick-shift puts you more in touch with the vehicle. You can feel the slight changes and vibrations. You can more quickly detect mechanical issues as they arise. As you are more in tune with your stick-shift vehicle, you will become more in tune with what’s around your car, which can lead to making you a safer, more alert driver.
We honestly believe every state in the US should require you to pass the driving test while driving a stick-shift. We think everyone should at least know how to stick-shift, and we’re not alone. Check out two great articles at Autoblog and Petrolicious on driving the stick-shift.