Manual vs. Automatic
Thanks for publishing my letter (Mailbag, Apr. ’18). I totally agree (sad to say) about the unpopularity of manual transmissions. In regards to the reliability/durability part I have to respectfully disagree. I realize that people with a lack of knowledge or who are abusive can shock load a manual transmission–equipped driveline. There is no torque converter to protect the vehicle from them as there is with an automatic. Thus, the reason to use detuned engines to preserve the drivetrain. Having said that, look no further than Jp a few years ago about automatics versus manuals. The article spoke to having to beat shoe leather when an automatic was bashed on a rock and lost fluid. A manual can most likely be limped home per the article.
Personally, I have owned a good number of manual transmission– equipped vehicles. Everything from cars to 10-wheel tractors. I’ve never had trouble with any of my manual transmissions, and only ever replaced one clutch (in a car where the rear engine seal went and oil soaked said clutch). I’ve only owned one automatic, in a Chrysler van. Despite regular maintenance, it eventually needed to be rebuilt.
Folks looking for that automatic experience should be in for a treat in the future. Self-driving Jeeps will take them over the trail of their choice, while they sit in the passenger seat and take photos. I hope that my manual-equipped ’02 SE outlives me.
Rick Passan Bethlehem, PA
The manual versus automatic transmission debate has always been and still is a constant ongoing battle with fewer and fewer manual transmission supporters every year. Don’t get us wrong, we love our manual transmissions, but automatic transmissions have their place too.
In all actuality, it’s very likely that future automatic transmissions will fundamentally be more like manual transmissions, but with dual-disc clutches and electronic shifting mechanisms. Today’s common fluid coupler–style automatic transmissions just aren’t all that efficient. There are probably some fuel economy gains left on the table that could be attained with a manual automatic as the technology becomes more affordable. These manual-automatic transmissions are already out there in several high-volume production cars.