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Is A Manual Transmission More Reliable?

Is A Manual Transmission More Reliable?

On any vehicle, problems with the transmission can not only be costly but also keep your vehicle off the road for quite some time. 

Though not as common on today’s newer vehicles as in years past, manual transmissions are still favored by many drivers. 

Is a manual transmission more reliable than an automatic? Let’s learn more about this!

If you have ever driven a manual transmission vehicle, you probably did not enjoy having to constantly shift gears as you were driving. 

Most automotive experts agree that manual transmissions are more reliable than automatic transmissions. Along with being far less expensive to maintain, manual transmissions also have a much lower risk of developing problems or failing altogether.

Perhaps best of all, should your manual transmission vehicle develop a problem, it is almost always much cheaper to fix a manual transmission issue than one associated with an automatic transmission. 

If this has convinced you to drive a vehicle that has a manual transmission, the bad news is that you may have a hard time finding a vehicle with this type of transmission.

Believe it or not, statistics show that only five percent of vehicles on the road today have manual transmissions, and only about 10 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. even offer manual transmissions as an option. 

Manual Transmission Reliability

When it comes to reliability regarding automobile transmissions, we’ve found it’s hard to beat the reliability of a manual transmission. 

When compared with automatic transmissions, most vehicles containing manual transmissions last far longer. In fact, you can generally expect your vehicle to last several years longer or even more if it has a manual transmission. 

Since issues with manual transmissions are somewhat rare, chances are you could drive your vehicle for well past a decade and never experience any transmission problems. 

When it does come to repair and maintenance issues regarding vehicles with manual transmissions, the most common issue involves replacing the clutch. But when compared with the various problems that tend to arise with automatic transmissions, the overall cost savings are substantial, since replacing a clutch is relatively inexpensive in most cases.

As for how many miles a manual transmission will last in a vehicle, we have found the consensus seems to be anywhere from 100,000-150,000 miles. 

However, if you take good care of your vehicle by properly operating the gears and clutch, many owners of manual transmission vehicles report driving their vehicles 200,000 miles or more with little more than maybe a clutch replacement.

Are Manuals More Reliable than Automatics?

Generally, manual transmissions are viewed as being more reliable than automatics. Of course, how you take care of your vehicle in other ways will also determine how well your transmission holds up in the long run.

If there is one knock against manual transmission vehicles, it is that you will likely find you’ll need to replace the clutch before you would need to have anything done to a vehicle that has an automatic transmission. 

Unfortunately, when it comes time to repair an automatic transmission, the cost can sometimes be several hundred dollars or much more!

In fact, it’s not uncommon for automatic transmission repairs to cost $1,000 or more, depending on the severity of the problem. If the problem is too bad, you may wind up being better off if you buy a new vehicle instead of going forward with repairs.

When properly maintained, a manual transmission gearbox will give you few problems and can be expected to last well beyond 300,000 miles or more under the right conditions.

How Long do Manual Transmissions Last?

As you have determined by now, manual transmissions tend to last quite a long time. In fact, it is more likely that your vehicle will experience many other problems along the way well before it would have a transmission issue. 

To make your manual transmission last as long as possible, there are things you can do to make this happen.

First, take good care of your clutch by not riding it excessively. In other words, only have your foot on it long enough to shift gears. 

If you continually keep your foot on the clutch when you’re driving, you’re doing nothing but creating excessive wear and tear on the clutch, which will result in the need for a new one sooner rather than later.

Next, use your gears correctly. 

When it’s time to shift up or down, do so. For example, if you are in second gear but going fast enough so that third gear is needed, staying in second gear increases stress on both your vehicle’s engine as well as the gearbox. 

Finally, keep an eye out for any oil leaks that could be impacting your transmission. 

Also, make sure you always have transmission fluid in your vehicle.

If you don’t or the levels are too low, you may notice a burning smell, which could indicate your transmission is overheating. 

Are Manual Transmissions Easier to Fix?

Without a doubt, manual transmissions are much easier to fix than automatic transmissions. 

This is due to their simplicity. With an automatic transmission, there are many more parts that come into play that may fail. Not only does this make it more difficult to determine the problem, but also usually results in a much higher repair bill. 

As noted earlier, if an automatic transmission is too far gone, the cost to repair may not be much less than it would be to purchase another vehicle. 

Mechanically, manual transmissions are extremely simple, and thus are easier for even beginning mechanics to fix. Requiring much less work to maintain, the biggest repair that usually arises with a manual transmission is replacing the clutch plate. 

Can Manual Transmissions Fail?

Like anything else on your vehicle, it is always possible your manual transmission could at some point fail. 

If your manual transmission is experiencing problems, there are some things you will start to notice.

When a manual transmission is getting worn out, one of the first signs will be a difficulty when attempting to shift gears. 

Also, you may find your vehicle jumps out of gear, gets stuck in one gear, or cannot get into a certain gear. 

Fortunately, most of these problems are relatively rare. Unless you have not properly maintained your car with proper lubrication, have abused it by riding the clutch or stripping gears, or your car has a very high amount of mileage, chances are you will never have to deal with these problems.

Manual Transmission Replacement Costs

If the time comes when your vehicle would need to have a manual transmission replacement, you can expect it to cost anywhere from $1,500 to upwards of $3,000 or more. 

While this sounds high, consider that an automatic transmission replacement usually costs a minimum of $2,000, and most of the time easily exceeds $4,000. 

But as you’ve probably realized by now, there is very little chance you will ever need to have a manual transmission replaced. 

By doing a minimal amount of maintenance and driving with common sense in regards to your clutch and gears, the most you’ll probably ever need to worry about is replacing your clutch at some point along the way.

If you don’t mind shifting gears and using a clutch while you’re driving, having a manual transmission vehicle offers many benefits. From better fuel mileage to greater control on slick roads, it’s hard to beat the reliability of a manual transmission.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!