Learning to drive can be challenging; for many of us, our initial lessons involved awkwardly stalling at traffic lights or changing into third gear when we needed first. To avoid this, young drivers are ditching manual and opting to learn to drive an automatic car instead. In 2020, 80,000 driving test passes were in automatic cars, a compound growth rate of 12% compared to five years prior. In fact, research predicts that automatic cars could surpass manuals as the preferred choice for learner drivers by 2038. In London, the shift to automatic is predicted much sooner in 2030. To help you decide between traditional manual driving lessons or those in an automatic car, we’ve explored the pros and cons of both to help you make an informed decision.
Pros of Automatic Cars
1. Less to Learn
Many individuals opt to learn to drive an automatic car because there is less to master. Rather than managing several gears in a manual car, automatic drivers simply decide between ‘Drive’ and ‘Park’ and so it’s usually quicker to pass an automatic test, meaning less money must be invested in driving lessons or retakes.
2. Less Distractions
Constantly changing gears can be distracting, especially when you are driving somewhere with heavy traffic, roundabouts and pedestrians. Automatic cars remove this stress so the driver can focus on the road.
3. Reduce Wear and Tear
Contrary to popular belief, automatic cars are usually cheaper to maintain. As the car automatically controls gear changes, there is less chance of wear and tear on the gearbox due to incorrect clutch control. Although replacing an automatic gearbox can be expensive, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to pay for these repairs.
4. More Efficient
Automatic cars always choose the optimum gear for your speed and road conditions so that you can make the most of your fuel. An additional benefit when you opt to learn to drive an automatic car is they allow the driver to creep forwards or backwards with ease, making parking and pulling up to traffic lights much smoother compared to manuals.
Cons of Automatic Cars
1. Less Control
Although it can be considered an advantage, the ease that comes with driving automatic cars also brings its own set of downfalls. Manual car drivers have control over their gearbox, which is particularly beneficial during adverse weather conditions like snow, heavy rain and ice.
2. More Expensive
Automatic cars require advanced technology to control the gearbox, which usually makes them more expensive than manual cars. For the same reasons, servicing and repairs on automatic cars are often more expensive.
3. More Limitations
One of the biggest downfalls if you learn to drive an automatic car is that you can only drive automatic cars in the future. To switch to a manual car, you must invest in additional driving lessons and pass a manual driving test. However, if you gain a manual driving licence first, you can choose between automatic and manual cars.
4. Too Easy?
Journeys in automatic cars can be easier, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are safer. Drivers of automatic cars run a greater risk of operating on autopilot; their attention may wander, which could result in a road traffic accident.