The real difference between an automatic transmission and a manual transmission is the way that the vehicle shifts through gears. On an automatic the driver shifts the gear to drive (or lower set gear) and hits the gas, as speed increases the transmission automatically steps up the gear to keep RPM’s under red line. However, on a manual, the driver is responsible for shifting between gears to as speed increases to keep from red lining.
Automatic transmissions are preferred amongst the common driver, because of it’s ease of use. A manual transmission requires coordination between the clutch, throttle, and shifting of gears to provide a smooth ride and not damage the transmission. However, there are some performance incentives for both automatic and manual transmissions, depending on what role is required.
Automatic Transmissions For Drag Racing
Most bracket drag racers prefer an automatic transmission. This is because in bracket drag racing consistency counts more than specific times. Elinating factors like clutch speed and shift speed a racer is able to lay down consistent runs in the quarter or eighth mile runs. Furthermore, most racing automatic transmissions are equipped with stall converters, which allow a high rpm drop into gear, emulating how a manual transmission would react to immediate high RPMs.
Manual Transmission For Racing
Manual transmissions are preferred for traditional racing applications, where quick gear changes are required to exit turns quickly. In most cases an automatic transmission could not keep up with a skilled driver using a stick shift. Properly navigating turns, following the driving line, and exiting fast requires foot work on the clutch and throttle and being able to keep high RPMs no matter the speed. It truly is an art that requires practice and training.
Difference Between Automatic and Manual Day to Day Driving
It boils down to personal preference on what kind of transmission you would want in a daily driver. I prefer driving a manual because I feel that I have more control over the vehicle’s direct performance. For some, like myself, driving a stick shift is an enjoyable experience and comes second nature.
Manual cars and trucks will typically get better gas mileage than an automatic. That’s because instead of a catch all RPM shift, manual drivers can shift early, to keep RPMs down, thus driving more efficiently.
This has been a post into a series of articles on explaining entry level questions to automotive enthusiasts.
Other Difference Articles: