Unlike Europe, North America hates diesel engines and manual transmissions in its cars. Both solutions are understandable.
Diesels are more expensive and noisier. Manual transmissions can be an annoyance – you always need to have a hand on the stick shift, with never a free moment to tap out a text message on your mobile or pick up the hamburger on the seat next to you (wait a minute…).
People seem to dislike stick shifts so much that even car thieves won’t steal them – because they would have a harder time selling them and also because, often, they can’t figure out how to drive them away once they steal them.
This is no joke — stick shifts only account for about 4 per cent of the market, so car thieves usually don’t have any practice on them.
While there is no government or insurance company data on stick shifts acting as theft deterrents, there is anecdotal evidence.
Time and again, newspapers around the country report on carjackings that literally stalled because the would-be thieves didn’t know how to shift gears.
Other practical Reasons Why Choosing A Stick Shift Over an Automatic Is Smart
Even if you don’t believe in the theft deterrent advantage of the stick shift, there are a number of reasons why you should consider buying such a car and learning how to drive it.
- Cars with manual transmissions are cheaper to buy and repair. They have simpler mechanisms, too.
- They are safer – cases of people who reportedly died in runaway cars in 2009 and 2010 would not have died if they had driven stick shifts instead. Even if their cars did accelerate uncontrollably, they could have simply stepped down on the clutch pedal and coasted to safety.
- If your automatic has a dead battery, you can’t jump start it. A manual transmission, on the other hand, is easy to push and jump start.
- People are still more intelligent than machines. If you know how to shift those gears, you can still manage far better fuel efficiency than an automatic. In these times of expensive fuel prices, this is no small advantage.
- Stick shifts are said to make people drive more safely. As noted earlier, a stick shift needs both hands at all times. It can be very difficult to text or do anything else when you drive a stick shift. If you are the parent of a young person, you are reasonably assured of your child’s undivided attention on his driving if you buy him a stick shift.
So, while a stick shift is more work than an automatic, there’s no denying its benefits…