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Q for Americans and those living in the US - Can you drive a car w/a manual transmission? - Page 3

post #37 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by nevets88 View Post
Are automatics now as fuel efficient as manuals?

 

with the new technologies lately they are more efficient

 

but both work best when you just put them in cruise control - it's about constantly monitoring the fuel feed to maintain speed.  The human will always have just a notch more than needed.

 

sad this is an "Americans" thread, I try not to stereotype a group when it's hundreds of millions of people with nothing in common

post #38 of 61

Yes.  And I taught my wife to drive one.  And we're still married :)  We got a great deal on a used car from a colleague of hers.  WAY better car than anything else we could find in our price range, but it was a manual.  Was a sketchy period in there, and we needed to replace the clutch plate earlier than we would have if she hadn't burned it so many times while learning, but she ended she ended up a pro.  I even got her smooth using the start on the steep uphill using the parking brake trick!  I was proud of that.

post #39 of 61
Thread Starter 
I'm not trying to stereotype anyone. I asked for the US region because we're probably the country with the highest percentage of automatics. No one is stopping you from expanding the context to outside the US.
post #40 of 61

Yes. My first car was a 82 Dodge Charger 5-speed.  We have a Miata now, which is a blast to drive.  I told my wife to get it for her 50th birthday.  It is our summer car.

 

My Dad's Chevy truck was the hardest vehicle to drive as a standard.  It didn't really have 2nd gear.  You had to swear at it to get it in gear.

post #41 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdl View Post
 

Yes.  And I taught my wife to drive one.  And we're still married :)  We got a great deal on a used car from a colleague of hers.  WAY better car than anything else we could find in our price range, but it was a manual.  Was a sketchy period in there, and we needed to replace the clutch plate earlier than we would have if she hadn't burned it so many times while learning, but she ended she ended up a pro.  I even got her smooth using the start on the steep uphill using the parking brake trick!  I was proud of that.

I have taught an awful lot of people that trick! It's a good one, and you learn very quickly how to do it without the brake once you get the timing and the clutch's (dis)engage point down.

post #42 of 61

I took (and passed) my first test in a manual car, and drove a manual (stick) for years afterwards - mostly Volvo 740s, 940s and 850s. Lovely cars.

 

Having taken driver's tests in both the UK and a US state (Georgia), where I currently reside....well, to be honest, there is no comparison in terms of difficulty. The UK road test when I took it in the early 1990s was hard, and from what my relatives back home tell me about the recent experiences of their teenaged sons and daughters in obtaining a licence, the British test has become harder still over the years. My Georgia test was a parallel park in the parking lot in a space that could easily accommodate a bus, followed by 5 minutes around the block (all on side streets).

 

As regards automatics vs manuals. I drive an automatic these days, myself, but I'd have no problem if I chose to buy a manual car in the future - once you've mastered the skill, it's like riding a bicycle. If I'm honest, I have an automatic because my (American) wife can't drive a manual, has no desire to learn - but sometimes we find ourselves driving each other's cars, so it's easier if we both have automatics.

 

I have no strong opinions on slush-boxes vs stick-shifts, with one exception. I really do wish that Driver's Ed in the US was taught in cars with a manual transmission - even if the kids starting driving an auto as soon as they passed their tests. I often drive past the local High School and see they have three or four Corollas locked up in a compound covered in Driver's Ed stickers. I bet they are automatics, but I wish they were manuals, for one simple reason: I see so much distracted driving these days (people texting while driving, eating while driving, etc), it's horrifying - drivers being experienced with automatic transmissions, only, perpetuates this problem, I think. Learning that skill is needed to actually keep the car physically in motion, and it will easily stall or perform poorly if you neglect to pay attention to it, would be a valuable lesson in driving for many novice drivers, in my opinion.

post #43 of 61

I can drive a stick shifted manual transmission, both synchronous (on the left, normal clutch shifted) and non-synchronous (on the right, typically clutch not used, or floating gears).

 

 

It seems like drivers education companies report everything from 0 to 15% of students request to be taught in cars with manual transmissions, possibly depending on where the companies are located. Likely most anyone over 50 knows how to drive a stick shift manual transmission. New car sales with manual transmissions are reported being from around 3% to over 5% depending on who is reporting it. So even if there are 25% that know how I would guess that only 10-15%  actually do now days, totally just guessing though.

 

I wonder how SMG, SMT, DCT type transmissions (electrohydraulic shift manual transmissions) are classified. In the context of this discussion those types don't count since they are computer shifted but they are manual transmissions.

post #44 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by flopster View Post
 

I got a funny story about stick shifts even though some of you may have had something similar happen as well. 20 years ago I owned a little pickup with a 5 speed and my owned a Nissan sentra  ser model with auto, anyways anyone that knows about that model sentra is that it's the sport edition with of course 4 wheel disc and ABS on a car that weighs less than 2500 pounds soaking wet. Well one day I was driving her car for one reason or another and I was almost home and for some reason lifted that left foot of mine and MASHED that pedal to the floor . . . could not breathe for about 15 seconds after that, I swear that car went from 35 to 0 in about 6 feet.

That reminds me of my driving test. I learned in a stick but for some reason decided it'd be easier to take the test in my grandma's auto… so anyways, we get to the DMV and as I reach the parking lot exit I start to break and instinctively went to press in the clutch which obviously wasn't there and I slammed on the breaks. The evaluator told me to turn the car around and park and I failed without even making it onto the street. I went back a couple weeks later in the stick and passed it no problem.

post #45 of 61
Warning: OT (Click to show)
Quote:
Originally Posted by tristanhilton85 View Post

That reminds me of my driving test. I learned in a stick but for some reason decided it'd be easier to take the test in my grandma's auto… so anyways, we get to the DMV and as I reach the parking lot exit I start to break and instinctively went to press in the clutch which obviously wasn't there and I slammed on the breaks. The evaluator told me to turn the car around and park and I failed without even making it onto the street. I went back a couple weeks later in the stick and passed it no problem.

When I took my test, there was some deal that the drivers ed company had with the RMV where you could go on a saturday and take the test with an MA state trooper (so already, somewhat intimidating). I was the first to go, and for some reason we were sitting in the car waiting for like 10 minutes, me in the driver's seat. My feet must have been playing with the pedals, because at some point the trooper reaches over, turns the key for me, and the car redlines. Thankfully we were in park. I quickly took my foot off the gas, convinced myself I could do the test with urine coating one leg, and somehow managed to pass easily.
post #46 of 61
Thread Starter 
@ScouseJohnny what makes the UK test harder? Can you describe some of the test?

Isn't one advantage of manual is that you can downshift if your brakes die on the highway?
post #47 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Jones View Post

I have taught an awful lot of people that trick! It's a good one, and you learn very quickly how to do it without the brake once you get the timing and the clutch's (dis)engage point down.
Yea, it's not hard once you develop the feel of your vehicle, but there are times I still use it.

There's a traffic light at the top of a hill on the way to a job site I worked at for months, and you always get caught at the red. Since most drivers here drive automatics, they always pull up very close to my car. Some even like to gradually roll forwards in anticipation of the green light even though they can't go anywhere. Safest thing to do is to not roll backwards at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nevets88 View Post

Isn't one advantage of manual is that you can downshift if your brakes die on the highway?
You're still pretty screwed, but I guess relatively less than if you were driving an automatic. It's really the engine braking that matters.
post #48 of 61

At face value, US and UK driving tests look similar - written (theory) tests with multiple-choice answers, followed by a road test where an examiner sits beside the trainee driver and deducts points for minor errors and immediately fails the candidate for major errors. The only difference in this basic description is that the UK now includes a third test - reactions/hazard perception. On paper, therefore, the tests look similar.

 

But they are not...as the low pass rate for the British test (around 43%) shows.

 

One principal difference is the length of the practical driving test (45 minutes). That's quite a long time for a novice driver, under the stress of test conditions, to drive in a manner that demonstrates competence with no significant errors. Also, the test will include major highways (there may be some exceptions to this, I admit - a test centre on the Scottish islands or in rural Wales perhaps) - but if you take your test in any large British town or city, you will end up in heavy traffic, on busy highways.

 

The examiners are very strict. They are fanatical about proper observation. Simply put, it is very easy to lose points and fail your test. Everyone in Britain could probably regale you with stories about how they, or a friend or relative, failed. My nephew failed because he indicated too early leaving a multi-lane roundabout, realized his mistake, and turned off his signal before waiting for the exit the examiner had told him to use, and signaled again. Instant fail (classified as "dangerous" - (had he just left at the exit he signaled for, the examiner may have been annoyed at having to adapt to a change in route, but technically it would not have been a fail). Yellow-box junctions are a favouite, too (these control right hand turns at busy intersections, the equivalent to a left hand turn in the states - the idea being that they enable drivers to drive up into the intersection and wait to turn in instances where there is no turn arrow). I have known many people who failed their test because of yellow box junctions. Too timid to pull into the intersection at the proper time? You fail. Too bold, and you enter the intersection before your exit road is fully clear? You fail.

 

There are three maneuvers (turn in the road, parallel park, reverse round a corner). These are performed on the road, in traffic - not in a parking lot. Again, the examiners are strict. Bump the kerb however slightly...fail - although most people who fail on the maneuvers fail for inadequate observation.

 

There is also the usual stuff - hill starts, emergency stops. However, the test now includes an "independent driving" section. Driving a route shown to you by the examiner, without waiting for his instructions to, "turn left at the next light," etc. You don't fail for minor mistakes in the route, but the idea is that independent driving shows how people genuinely drive (especially in terms of lane changing, etc), when they are driving to accomplish a journey they have in mind - a different mindset to an instruction to make a particular turn, delivered in a timely manner that allows the candidate to respond to it in a formulaic way.

 

If you pass your test in an automatic in the UK, your licence is endorsed "automatic only." You'd have to pass the test again in a manual car to be allowed to drive a manual.

 

As I said, on paper the UK and US test look very similar. The difference, really, is in how the tests are administered. Teenaged learner drivers complain that the government is picking on them, doesn't want them to drive, the tests are hard so the government can make money from the test fees, that old people are the real danger and they should be tested too, it's just learning to pass a test and you'll probably drive differently once you've passed, etc etc etc - all the usual stuff I probably also said when I was 17 and learning to drive. The aim, however, was to reduce carnage amongst young drivers, and this seems to have worked, to an extent (accident rates for teens are falling). That said, the UK can learn from the US, too. The next idea is graduated licensing (as, I believe, is used in Maryland), with restrictions placed upon the first year or two of driving: curfews, limits on the number of people a new driver can have in a car, and a lower toleration for penalty points before a licence is revoked and the driver must be retested.

 

All a bit wordy, I know, but you asked so I tried to answer your question.

 

Here is something interesting though, a short article by an American grad student studying in the UK, who recently took a UK driving test, and was surprised at the differences between driving tests in the two countries: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/uk-driving-law-versus-us

post #49 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by nevets88 View Post

@ScouseJohnny what makes the UK test harder? Can you describe some of the test?

Isn't one advantage of manual is that you can downshift if your brakes die on the highway?

 

In theory, but if a person hasn't practised the technique and/or doesn't understand how to use engine braking effectively, under a stress situation I doubt it would matter. The exception being a car with some kind of computer shifted manual like @hacker101 has in the BMWs. In that case the computer knows how to engine brake and won't panic, just hammer the paddles (or whatever type selector), the computer won't shift down till it is safe (for the engine) to do so.

 

However, most cars here since sometime in the 90s have redundant braking systems so to experience complete brake failure, while possible, would be highly unlikely. But again the problem is similar to above in that many people don't understand (or know) how the system works (can't really practice this though) so in a stress situation with limited time sometimes people don't realize they still have brakes and claim to have experienced "complete brake failure" - which is ironically partially true.

 

From my experience when one system fails the pedal will go what feels like all the way to the floor with no pressure then engage the backup system. At that point press the pedal  progressively harder, and the car will stop. It won't stop fast because only half the brakes are working and likely with little or no power assist ... which is a good thing because the brakes will either be split diagonally front to back or either both front or both back, none of those configurations is too "stable" in a panic situation.

post #50 of 61
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the detailed explanations, Scouse and M2R. 

 

I don't know if it's just my limited experience, but I found driving in the UK compared to the US more pleasant. People flashed their lights to let me know I had the right of way, they let me lane change on the highway  (where I drive, a signal to lane change means for the other guy - speed up, narrow the gap, don't let the enemy get in the lane) and I don't think I ever encountered sudden unpredictable moves or rage driving. I'm sure there is, but it seems like there's less of it in the UK. In the US, I can immediately identify an ADD rageaholic let the world burn driver and there's lots of them.

 

I think we take driving and easy driving conditions for granted here.

 

Any stick shift drivers here in San Francisco or Pittsburgh?

post #51 of 61

I learned how to drive a manual when I got a job as a delivery driver to refineries right out of HS (won that job in a golf match, but that's a different story).  Didn't drive one from 1994 until 2010, when I bought a 1995 BMW 325i with a 5-speed.  That was a really fun car to drive.

 

Last spring I started looking for another car, and I found a 2-yo Audi A3 with a 2.0T and 6-speed manual on Craigslist.  Wife absolutely did not want me to buy it because she wouldn't be able to drive it.  I had to though--it was SOOO CHEAP because people in the US won't buy a car with a manual tranny.  Got such a great deal on it I was able to pay for it in cash, and it is SO FUN TO DRIVE.

 

I won't be going back to an auto anytime soon.

post #52 of 61

I can drive a MT.  The first car I ever owned had a manual: '85 Toyota 4Runner SR5.  Id say that fewer people nowdays can drive a stick simply because not many cars have manual transmissions anymore.

post #53 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by GaijinGolfer View Post
 

I can drive a MT.  The first car I ever owned had a manual: '85 Toyota 4Runner SR5.  Id say that fewer people nowdays can drive a stick simply because not many cars have manual transmissions anymore.

Quote:
Id say that fewer people nowadays can drive a stick simply because not many cars have manual transmissions anymore.

 

No disrespect, but I can't entirely agree with that statement. Most mainstream models made by the big Japanese manufacturers are made with manual transmissions for the European market, European cars (Volkswagens, BMWs etc) are all most definitely made with manual transmissions, Ford make the Focus and cars like that with manual transmissions for Europe (although I don't know if a manual transmission is available in the models sold stateside), GM products sold internationally are manufactured with manual transmissions.

 

Worldwide, I'm sure that the number of manual cars manufactured still exceeds the number of automatic cars manufactured.

 

But you are right, according to this discussion by a motoring journalist only 36% of new car models currently sold in the US market are available with manual transmissions. Subtract from that high performance cars and other specialty offerings, and chances are your average, new 4-door sedan is slushbox only. This makes sense, when I think about it. A friend of mine recently went in search of a 5-speed Camry. He found one, but he had to travel to an out-of-town dealership.

 

I guess my point is that manual cars are still made in huge quantities. All those Asian cars alone, Nissans, Toyotas, Hyundais, etc - the same models sold in the U.S. or facelifts of those models with a different badge, made in vast quantities for the international market....

 

It's not that manual cars are uncommon, it's just that automakers don't seem to want to sell them in the U.S. That can only be a market-driven decision, which no doubt someone with more familiarity with the U.S. auto market than I have could explain.

post #54 of 61
You are correct with your observation. In the US, all markets are driven by customer demand. It doesn't make sense to try and sell anything if there is no demand. In the US, most people prefer automatic transmissions. The racing community has proven that the performance and gas savings are not significant between the two. The auto companies are now producing 10 speed automatic transmissions.
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