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Automatic vs Manual: The Facts

Automatic vs Manual: The Facts

If you or your child are thinking about learning to drive, one big decision to make is whether you want to learn manual or automatic. Many driving instructors are only taking on automatic pupils, with long waiting lists for manual instructors. This is because it is quicker and easier, therefore cheaper, to learn to drive an automatic car and, although that limits choices at the moment, with the production of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars ceasing from 2030, driving a manual will soon become an obsolete skill.

However, despite the phasing out of manual vehicles, most people in the UK still opt for the more complicated route, with around 40,000 automatic driving tests vs 680,000 manual driving tests taken per year.

So, is it still worth learning to drive a manual vehicle? Here’s what you need to know.


While it may take a little longer to learn to drive a manual, you do have more flexibility. If you learn to drive manual, you can drive either a manual or an automatic in the future, whereas if you learn to drive automatic only, you won’t be able to switch to manual without taking another test.


For many learner drivers, cost is a significant issue. So it may help to know that, in general, it is usually cheaper to insure a manual car than an automatic. This is because automatics tend to fall in a higher risk category. This isn’t because automatic drivers are considered more likely to crash, but because it usually costs more to repair an automatic vehicle; something which insurers have to consider when setting premiums.

Purchase cost

Unless money is no object, for most first time drivers, vehicles will tend to be a low-powered, lower-cost second hand car. Because manual cars are much more popular in the UK, it makes sense that the market is stronger and there are, therefore, more second-hand manual vehicles on the market. More availability = more choice and more bargaining power, meaning that usually manual cars are a fair bit cheaper than their automatic equivalents.

Ease of learning

When you learn to drive an automatic, you don’t need to learn gear changes and clutch control; two elements that can often be a sticking point for learners. This means that you will probably need fewer driving lessons than if you learn in a manual. However, automatic lessons tend to cost a little more, so if your primary motivation is money, it is worth working out average lessons and cost for both types of test and comparing that alongside the cost of buying and insuring a new car.

Unless you are struggling to learn in a manual car, or you have a medical condition that means that you need to drive an automatic, by learning to drive a manual you will give yourself much more freedom to choose which car you want to buy and drive, both now and in the future. For more information, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or check out our directory of local, reliable driving instructors near you.

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