Adaptive cruise control in stop and go traffic.
I used to have to deal with a six-speed manual transmission in stop and go traffic for an hour every day, and it was pure torture. I mean, sure, it was fun for a weekend drive in the mountains, but it sucked the rest of the time.
Oh, and as a side note, my new car with an automatic transmission and a 400+ HP engine accelerates from zero to 60 faster and smoother than any one of my previous cars. I will never go back! And I have paddle shifters, if I ever want to manually control the gears.
I truly believe that stop and go is caused by automatics. All of the brake tapping tends to bunch people up at the end of long lines forcing them to a complete stop. In a manual just let off on the gas a little and the engine brakes a little, no brake lights to create cascading braking
A simple hypothesis like this is easy to test: does stop and go traffic exist in places that are predominantly manual transmissions?
I live in Asia and I can tell you unequivocally that, yes, stop and go traffic still exists even when every single person has a manual transmission.
Like on a motorbike I tend to tweak slow speeds with the clutch only and leave the throttle in one position most of the time.
With an automatic car since the brakes are not binary and automatic gearboxes have often forward creeping I only tweak the brakes. Helps to force the gearbox into 2nd gear as well for even slower creeping.
In fact, I think automatic gearboxes reduces traffic jams as fewer parts to think of so less likely to accidentally make a mistake and cause congestion.
Wonder how many jams are due to accidental stalling a manual gearbox.
Traffic jams without an automatic gearbox is no fun. (or even less fun)
If, left in drive gear, yes. However, many cars have several options.
In my current car, a Honda, rhe lowest gear will just creep along, next gear up will slow the car rapidly on gas pedal release.
Both gears are very well chosen for traffic. I rarely apply brake.
Not with the regenerative braking in my hybrid.
The simple solution is to behave like an inductor in electronics; if the front car starts, take a bit of time to get going and don't try to maintain the gap. That way you average out the speed of the stop-and-go traffic more than if you were maintaining distance.
It might help to think of stop-and-go as a wave of stop-traffic through go-traffic where the reaction time of drivers shortens or lengthens the stop-traffic duty cycle. If a driver maintains enough distance to eat an entire stop-cycle without stopping themselves, they have effectively nullified the stop-wave. If they can't do the entire cycle they can still help in reducing the duty cycle of the stop wave.
I worry there's a sampling bias going on.
When I commuted to work, I'd keep the same tight pattern everyone else used, and it felt like any time I let up, some jerk would take advantage.
Then, for a while, I was suddenly paid to go between buildings on opposite sides of one of the worst traffic cities in the US. I always left with plenty of time and no urgency, so I would just stubbornly maintain plenty of stopping distance while everyone else was inches apart. Smoothing my braking pattern became a game.
If you constantly leave that much room people weaving in becomes rare enough that you barely care when it happens.
I feel like there's some bias affecting perception. Maybe it's a confound, or availability heuristic.
Confound - if you're trying to hug a bumper, and suddenly there's a gap, maybe that's because your lane is suddenly moving faster and someone's taking advantage of that. If you always have space, you'll have it even when your lane is less attractive. (ie, The space doesn't make your lane attractive, the pace does.)
Availability heuristic - if you care about people cutting you off and are adopting a strategy to prevent it, you will notice it more and put more weight on those occurrences than on all the seconds where no one is cutting you off.
Before I had that job, I would have read this comment and thought it was nuts though, so not sure if anyone will actually believe me.
I swear I've watched traffic clear up around me. Of course it's anecdotal, but it tends to keep things moving, even if slowly, rather than bringing everything to a halt.
Driving in traffic is a cooperative activity. The only times you don’t need to accommodate and be accommodated by other drivers are when there are hardly any around.
Almost exclusively these people will zip around a line and force their way in at the end. Even kindergartners are taught budging in line is not good.
Why is this the problem on the people actually being considerate and are in the correct lane at the appropriate time?
Zipper merging  exercises a different kindergarten skill, taking turns. Still, "lines" are a small minority of lane-changing situations, all of which involve taking the open space in an adjacent lane.
"Lines", to use your emphasis, are by far the major time component so for me this is a meaningless distinction. Normal traffic merges should of course be accepted gracefully.
I find it inconsiderate frankly, because it forces an arbitrary decision rather then just patiently using the available road as marked.
We should mostly be on bikes and scooters anyway.
That being said, in some European cities drivers are not very keen to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, even when pedestrians are already in the median "island." I haven't noticed any US city of a similar size that had drivers quite so negligent about crosswalks.
We were taught that squeezing in is forbidden unless you're heading for an exit or something like that.
Same thing with an automatic transmission. With DSG it's obvious why, but even with a torque converter you tend to have a clutch that locks up once there's no need for slip to improve efficiency.
If that’s the case then it should eventually be solved by a critical mass of vehicles with adaptive cruise control (assuming they optimize for fuel efficiency and/or smooth acceleration/braking)
I coast nearly as much with it as I did using a manual.
I find I'm usually able to keep rolling in gear, which doesn't use any more fuel than just idling, and not apply the brakes in most "stop and go" traffic.
But yes, if there is a smoking gun for the death of the manual in America, it would be our crumbling, congested roads and absurdly long daily commutes.
It was about efficiency and cost for ages though. That's why manuals were popular and why they aren't popular in the US anymore. Modern automatics (dual clutch, CVTs, even computer controlled single clutch and plain old torque converter slushboxes) are so much more efficient now that manuals don't make as much sense as they used to.
But when I still drove a manual it always felt like I was planning ahead, engine braking early at red lights (which often meant I could coast though it without completely stopping) etc, which you can't do with the lesser control on an automatic. Driving "lazily" in a manual means reducing shifting which often translates to more fuel-efficient driving. Driving lazily in an automatic is very different.
I'd love to see a study on hypermiling with auto vs manual in real-world condition. AFAIK all the efficiency numbers we have are just based on purely mechanical tests on a driving cycle on a dynamometer, and we all know what that kind of testing leads to.
Sure you can.
It's one the of the reasons the ZF8 transmission is used in everything from the new BMW 8 series down to the Dodge Charger.
Unless something has changed radically in the last few years, that's just not true. The torque converter will drop out of lock-up as soon as you demand sufficient acceleration (this will vary tremendously by engine - i.e. an inline four will do it regularly, a big V8 may meet most of your acceleration needs without dropping out of lockup) or tap the brakes. Torque converter with lockup have been around since 1950ish.
Having spent a decent amount of time with ZF8 speed the torque converter is almost always locked out. Throttle response and engine braking don't lie.
Edit: by the way, I looked up the ZF8 and it's available in a bunch of configurations. One of them is a wet clutch instead of a torque converter, which I imagine has to operate like an electronically controlled manual transmission. There's even an option to have an electric motor instead of a torque converter for hybridization!
That's true engagement! My plugin hybrid minivan with an e-cvt knocks the socks off of my old 5-speed Subaru wagon. A Minivan!
(Edit) The reason why is that it takes me about a second to shift gears. A modern automatic can rev up before I'd even move the shifter, let alone before I'd get the clutch back in. An electric car doesn't need the gears at all.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy stick. But the arguments you make are nonsense.
Only time I think about gears is in low range, when I'm in an off-roader.
Frankly, I wish it was completely electric... Also, I hate to say this... The minivan is just overpowered. I hardly press the accelerator and it's like driving a rocket. At least when I drove a Leaf I had to push down a bit when I wanted to go fast
The same reason I love(d) driving motorcycle. It's a full body engagement. Both hands, both feet, and super alertness and focus on everything around you.
However, I'm all for the aspect of automatic transmission changing gears at the right moment to get as much power out of the engine as possible. But it doesn't weigh up the disconnected feeling they provide on my behalf.
Speak for yourself. I have a manual (actually, I've never driven an automatic, come to think of it), and I couldn't care less about "connectedness with the car". My car is a device that takes me, and sometimes my family, from A to B as safely and conveniently as possible. It's a car, I'm not in a relationship with it.
I suppose I could have gone looking for one when we were buying a new car, but they're not exactly common.
I do enjoy driving a manual car, but I can't honestly say my preference is due to personal experience.
I don't have anything against automatics per se, I can well see myself getting a car having one in the future.
It's still "increasing engagement" which is what GP claimed to want. How about a persistent pull to the right in the steering? That's continuous and increases engagement. How about occasional "death wobble" as found in many Jeeps? That will really sharpen your focus and keep you engaged.
And no paddle replaces the sheer joy of rowing your own.
That's a purely subjective statement.
Not to be a jerk, but there's a big difference between a Dodge Dart and a Dodge Viper or a Chevy Cruze and Chevy Corvette. Cars that are designed to provide the driver with mechanical feedback and tight handling are not something that manufacturers are concerned with in most of their vehicles.
Even among sports cars with "automatic" transmissions (most likely dual clutch), the transmission is programmed very differently from the regular models. Take an automatic BMW M4 for a spin and compare it to a regular 4 series. The M4's transmission will be far jerkier and rougher shifting despite having mechanically identical components. It's programmed for faster shifts for better performance while sacrificing comfort.
Wasn't aware they dropped it for the F8X's, the E9X 335i's had the option for a DCT.
Now I have two cars, one for rough traffic trips. I realize this isn't practical, though, so I don't hate anyone for their automatics.
Good- I'd rather you focus on the world around you.
There are some situations where driving a manual incorrectly is more dangerous (clutch coasting) but others where the extra control is better (Ute off-road).
Adding arbitrary other things requiring focus doesn’t seem like it would help prevent accidents.
A manual car sort of kicks you in the butt every now and then: “hey, you’re in the wrong gear. Stay sharp, and upshift!”
Other benefits, when I think about it, are that an automatic frees up one foot and one hand. I can drive with my cup of tea or coffee without having to shift, which is great. I don't know if it directly helps with awareness, but it helps me stay awake.
It's a burden if you're stuck in bad traffic, if you've got a heavy clutch, or if you're crawling up a hill. Worse if you've got more than one of those compounding factors.
For me, motorcycles in traffic has been painful due to having to hold a heavy clutch in with your hand.
I really don't get what the issue is. Maybe my ADHD benefits focus-wise from having another thing to do? I rarely even use the cruise control unless I'm on a 3+ hour trip.
The same applies to pretty much everything in driving, of course. Initially, when learning to drive, the information flow overwhelms people, because the brain tries to understand and process everything. Eventually, routines take over and the low-level things like how to turn the steering wheel, or how to handle brakes or shifting, is done unconsciously.
It's useful on the track you say? Maybe, and I have no doubt I'd rather a paddle shifter for outright speed and ease. It's probably safer to learn to drive at high speed having removed one of the variables at least at first. That said, I'll never be Michael Schumacher.
Bottom line when you buy a performance car: what are you trying to do? It can't be "win" or see the limits of the car, so what is it? Clearly it's to have fun. And I think it's hard to argue that driving a stick is more fun, except perhaps in traffic. In the end I'd rather endure minor annoyance in traffic and in the city in exchange for the fun that comes elsewhere. I've put my money where my mouth is, own 2 cars, both stick.
There is a rough measure of power going on with these status symbols. Everyone would be driving Ariel Atoms and Caterham Lotus 7 cars or Mazda Miatas if 'good nimble sports car' really satisfied what was allegedly wanted.
So the 'what do you want, what are you trying to achieve' aspect of owning that fancy car that can do silly speeds has to have more to it than that thrill of acceleration. It is about where you see yourself in the world - status.
I may as well claim that because bicyclists are always wearing spandex and carrying helmets around, there must be more to it than the alleged enjoyment of cycling - they don't actually like riding bikes, but only want hipster-fitness lifestyle points.
(Besides, it's not like most use them "legally" all the time)
Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go support is not really the same as cruise-control in free flowing traffic. I rarely use cruise-control in normal traffic, but the stop-and-go cruise control is a luxury I never realized I wanted until I had it.
That doesn't seem like a bad drive. Try two hours from Western SF to the Golden Gate Bridge (roughly six miles).
Agreed 100%. About the only time I drive within the Bay Area is if I'm going outside the SF / Oakland / Berkeley urban core. This Labor Day I was going to Marin and planned poorly (driving the day of instead of leaving earlier).
Once you get out of that urban core (or if you're traveling late at night) public transit nearly evaporates. Without traffic that would have been around a two hour bus ride. However there are no dedicated lanes for buses along 19th / Park Presidio so that would've been easily a 3-4 hour bus trip with a few untimed transfers thrown in for good measure.
At an average of 40 miles per hour that's not particularly bad. The people complaining about driving in stop-and-go traffic are almost certainly in much worse traffic than that.
The example I gave of getting from one end of San Francisco to another happens pretty much every holiday weekend. Average speed? About 3 mph. The worst part is the uphill approach to the GG Bridge.
Or you can look at the other SF bridge. In traffic (which has gotten so bad you'll see it like this on pretty much any weekend afternoon) it'll easily take an hour to get from the 280/101 interchange to the Bay Bridge approach (about 7 miles).
Traffic like that is why I rarely commute by car, but also why many people simply don't want to drive a car with a manual transmission.
I gave you the time it would take if you drove at mid-day, not at rush hour (hence the "without traffic" qualifier). A lot of people commute to New York, as you might imagine (and you have to go through toll booths and there was non-stop construction), but my hours were variable at that particular job so I didn't always get the same experience. It wasn't part of my normal commute, but I assure you the George Washington Bridge isn't any better than the Golden Gate, and I have also driven over that in heavy traffic.
Anyway, I've done that and I've commuted on Massachusetts highways (allegedly among the worst in the country). I didn't enjoy it but my point is that driving an automatic car didn't make it any better.
Here are some other car models with full range adaptive cruise control:
And here's what looks like a more complete list of 2018 models supporting it:
I love manuals, and everytime I drive an automatic I just hate it. It never does what I want.
The car in question was a used Audi A8. In "S" mode it would shift pretty much the way I'd shift my manual Audi S4. In D mode it was more sedate, but if I needed to downshift in order to be ready when a gap opened in traffic, I could pull on the left paddle twice and it would downshift. I thought that worst case if I hated it I could just use the paddles or the same thing on the shifter. It had a mode where it would not shift unless you told it to as well. I tried that a few times, but in the end just used D most of the time and S for the twisties.
Now I'm not sure what I have. Is a Tesla a Automatic or a Manual? It is direct drive, so you don't touch it once you "shift into gear", but it isn't making gear changes for you either. Hmmm. :-) It's also fast and smooth and absolutely no lag, either through induction/turbo or through gear changes. I worried as a car guy that I would find it too isolating, but the things I like about good cars, this has in spades (smooth, responsive, powerful engine).
I would never put my manual in neutral unless I am about about to set the parking brake. It represents a mode shift in my attention and vigilance. I always did this startup sequence (and its reverse for shutdown): foot on clutch, foot on brake, start engine, release parking brake, transmission into gear, foot off brake and over gas pedal, feather clutch to pull away.
Like many on this long thread, I eventually compromised and got an automatic because of the narrowing options in the new car market here in the US as well as to make my wife comfortable sharing the car.
I am learning to enjoy the extra gears and the aggressive automatic shifting program that gives a quiet, comfortable cruise. With a manual, I would never shift my way so close to the idle speed when cruising, because my ear would be telling me it is time to downshift. But, knowing that the computer is handling it means I enjoy the comfort and can be impressed by the fuel efficiency in this mode.
I do miss the engine braking though. I think automatics are tuned to an irritating preference for coasting. I'd much rather have to keep the gas pedal depressed in order for it to sustain speed, and to have it automatically downshift and slow the car when I start to raise my foot. I'd like the automatic to do this all the way from highway speed down to the slowest crawling speed in the lowest gear, without any other inputs.
It really depends on the type of car you're driving though, I guess. Driving a sports car with a grippy clutch is going to be painful. Driving a $750, 20 year old Mazda with a 2 L engine and a soft clutch isn't too bad at all, you just sort of ride the clutch (which I am aware isn't great for it).
I think that there is nothing that beats driving a stick shift in winding hills. Autos and paddle shifts just don't feel the same. There's just something about the mechanical action of shifting manually that I love.
I don't drive in stop-start traffic, so I don't know how well it would work, but my manual VW Golf MK VII has adaptive cruise control. If you need to shift up or down, you just do so and cruise control re-engages.
I'm pretty much always in 6th gear when I've got ACC enabled.
Obviously manuals have had normal cruise control for decades.
that said, I'd take it oven an automatic anyday.
Yes, automatic transmissions have a big advantage in acceleration which is why they're so common in drag racing. The torque converter means there's an "extra low gear" to provide more torque from a standstill, and there's no need to operate a clutch that can take repeated slipping without quickly wearing out --- cars can "slip" the torque converter at full throttle for a moment and launch with the engine already running near the optimal RPM for peak power.
In fact, one of the most popular transmissions in drag racing is a two-speed automatic from the early 50s:
It removes the need for your fellow drivers to feel a tension when it is time to switch lanes, to not have to make a risky maneuver. You get to relax when driving because now you aren’t competing to get to your destination, and you can feel more confident others are not going to accidentally hit you in a desperate attempt to go where they are going.
That impatient driver behind you? They will get around you and play the rat race. Let them. Most drivers don’t do that unless you are much obviously slower than traffic flow. Let people win the game they are playing. You are making it generally safer, and your consistency on the road helps them make decisions easier.
I’ve been doing this for about 10 years. No accidents, no cause of accidents, no angry honkers, none of that nonsense. Try it for a week! Give others space to move. Watch traffic jams ease up a little around you. It’s very neat. My space clears spaces so I can move easier after people get in front of me. I’ve seen others follow my example (or be their own example).
I think this wsj vid may contain excerpts from the original:
If everyone could just relax out there, some of those traffic standing waves would diffuse away to nothing. Ahhh...
When I get in bad traffic and struggle against the urge to tailgate I play a game where I try and give enough space to where I just roll up to the car in front of me as it is starting to move again. This gives me a time-local goal to aim at instead of fixating on supposed "bad actors" I might want to judge instead.
Edit: I found it! (from 2008 it appears)
I find the problem isn't people merging into your lane in front of you, but doing so badly (ie not leaving a safe amount of space behind their rear bumper and your front bumper).
Semi drivers have this even worse.
That's the worst problem I see around here -- cars in the freeway running bumper to bumper, and then a block of 3 or 5 cars also running bumper to bumper trying to force their way in, but none of the cars really leave enough room for a smooth merge, so the cars on the freeway end up hitting the brakes when the merging cars force their way in.
There are some advantages to driving a semi in traffic:
- Lots of gears to choose from and massive torque in order to find that perfect 'idle forward' speed.
- Far more comfortable ride then a car, it's not even close.
- Radio communication with trucks ahead, so you know what's happening ahead and which lane to be in long before the cars figure this out.
- Visibility over the top of vehicles in front (except another truck, obviously).
I think the only thing better than a semi for heavy traffic might be a luxury car with adaptive cruise and a little roof-mounted drone-cam that you could launch to check out the view ahead (though this sounds like something Homer Simpson would dream up). Your own little personal traffic copter/R2D2, with a recharging dock on the roof. Someone please tell Elon Musk to make this a priority for new Teslas. It could even check out side streets in cities and find quicker routes.
Heavy load = longer stop distance = lengthier minimum safe following distance
Minimum safe following distance > 1 car length = motorists darting in front of semis
Rinse and repeat. Assuming a heavy load and ignorant motorists, there's no way to avoid constant unsafe situations. As soon as you create a new safe gap, someone slides in.
So, no. It's terrible. (And I'm not even mentioning the additional gear shifts)
I do appreaciate when people drive densely packed and I try to do the same (up to a safety limit). For merging there are turn signals.
At the same velocity. It's quite possible that with the increased gap and increased flow (less stop & go), you could get higher velocity out of it to compensate. Maybe not 3x the velocity, but 2x gap and 2x velocity seems within the realm of possibility (a 60mph road that slows down to 30mph because people are driving stupidly).
Edit: on the low end, this seems quite possible. Increased gaps raising the mean velocity from 5mph to 15 or 20mph.
This is super interesting! As kind of expected, there's a middle zone that balances out density and velocity. In the context of what we were talking about, the fourth "Basic Statement" jumps out at me: "If one of the vehicles brakes in unstable flow regime the flow will collapse."
Following too closely removes any margin for error and so requires you to either mimic every change in speed or create dangerous conditions.
Come over to Los Angeles and take me to work for a week and we'll see how well you can make that work.
As someone who drove a stick shift far too often in LA traffic jams, I understand your point and agree with it. You have to try really hard to juuust get to the car in front as it's starting to accelerate or you will burn the heck out of your clutch.
However, if you leave the appropriate gap, someone WILL jump into it in LA. And the people behind you will start frothing at the mouth.
It's really hard to be nice to a clutch in Los Angeles.
Yeah you can smooth things out and inject a bit more zen into your experience by accelerating and decelerating more gently and leaving a larger than normal gap, but stop&go simply exists and is a pain even with an automatic.
Adaptive cruise is a godsend.
Adaptive cruise control is easy to achieve no matter the car, and without any technology doing it. You just do it yourself.
The whole purpose of cruise control is to not do it yourself.
There will always be stop and go traffic once the carrying capacity of the road is reached. Once the capacity of the road is reached, it's actually most beneficial for everyone to be as close to each other as possible, and fill gaps as quickly as possible, since there's a finite amount of road at any given time, so only way to maximize is is to fill up as much if it as possible.
Also why you should use all lanes available and create zipper merge at the very end.
Unless you can control the behavior of adjacent lanes there is no achievable amount of buffer space that eliminates stop and go. The best you can do is increase the glide time between stops. At times you will see, e.g., semis lining up side by side to help keep a zipper merge flowing, etc., but those cases are rare and not understood by other drivers.
Do you understand what causes traffic? That harder you brake, the bigger and longer the wave of people braking behind you will be. By braking less hard, you are causing less traffic.
And yes, 99% of people driving in traffic are idiots who don't know how to drive or they wouldn't be tailgating and slamming the brakes every 6 feet wasting thousands of hours of people's collective time by causing needlessly large waves of braking behind them due to the fact that those people are also following too close, amplifying the problem.
See http://trafficwaves.org/ for further reading
Do you understand traffic? I pretty much doubt it.
No, 99% of people driving in traffic aren't idiots. About 5% are, and that's all it takes. My most pleasant finding from all those years of driving was to note that the vast, vast majority of Houston daily commuters were absolutely pro drivers when it comes to congestion.
A good friend of mine and I have a standing argument about proper behavior when, driving, one encounters a "lane closed ahead" sign. He insists that the right thing to do is to abandon the to-be-closed lane as soon as feasible [tangent: he also gets mad at drivers who want to merge later, describing them as "cutters"], while I maintain that the best way to minimize the effect of a lane closure is to use whatever lanes are legal/open for as long as possible -- because leaving an open lane of travel unused only exacerbates the problem.
Disclaimer: I grew up driving in the Boston area (yes, among other "Massholes"), and my philosophy is "try never to use your brakes on the highway, and try even harder never to require anyone else to brake unnecessarily".
But that's a big "if" -- too many drivers are like your friend, and work themselves up into a blood-boiling rage at the thought of someone "cutting" by engaging in proper zipper merging. Tell your friend the problem is he's thinking of the merge as a competition with a "winner" (person who ends up in front) and "loser" (person who ends up behind), instead of looking for the option that maximizes efficiency for everyone.
I agree with you. Fully packing an 'ending' lane until it actually ends is most efficient from a road usage point of view.
(I have lived for 10+ years in the Boston area but did not grow up there.
If everyone merges early, the cars that could have been in that mile of unused lane, will instead be in the full lane, moving the entire queue backwards a mile, clogging up more exits and onramps, and making the jam worse.
Use all available road, that's what it's there for.
I define stop and go traffic as when I'm in 0-15mph traffic during rush hour on the Interstate.
If I leave a large enough gap so that I don't constantly have to press the clutch from stalling then someone else will move in front of me and then I have to hit the brakes as well.
No thanks. Automatic for me.
I don't know what to tell you. Works on my machine.
Maybe it's because I don't do it in the left lane but I never see 4+ people force their way in front of me at the exact same time with no time to decrease my speed. The occasional one will buffer out so it works for me.
Don’t think I’d be able to keep my sanity if it was an auto - at least I could focus on something other than the miserable drive and crazy work/study hours.
Priorities change, but if I was making a choice today just for me - manual all the way!
Now if I could only find a car without electric power steering... or any power steering at all... (Those old NSXs were a blast to drive!)
You want a Lotus. It's a glorified go kart. Even the radio is optional.
Of course, in city traffic the adaptiveness is not very useful with manual transmission.
CC on stick shifts works fine at steady highway speeds over a consistent grade.
but i never had the cramping problem and love driving it in stop and go traffic. keeps me entertained / sane with something to do. recently noticed my left calf is bigger than my right
As one of my friends with the same car said "it's a heavy clutch. It's not that bad to use if you are a tall guy, but if you are a short woman who weighs less than 120 pounds, you are going to have to stand on it or pull the steering wheel to use it"
He has the Saabaru, and his GF can't drive his car at all because of how heavy the clutch is.
Now that I only use my car for errands in the city I wish I had the manual, but I am so glad I didn't have it when I had a 1 hour commute each way in stop and go traffic.
There were other times during fast up or down shifting that the car would get confused and pause before figuring out what to do.
Also, these newer automatic transmissions still do not give you anywhere near the level of control you get over the car, which I found to be really annoying whenever it snowed.
I'm sure these systems have improved, but last year I sold that car and bought a manual instead. It was hard to find, but I'm glad I switched back.
Nope, I was bored out of my mind and the paddle shifters were no replacement. Sold it after 6 months, bought a manual again and am never going back to automatics. Yes, they're slower and less fuel efficient but they're so much more fun; like Hammond said "changing gear is a vital form of self-expression".
Probably helps that I don't drive in traffic, only for fun.
I have two manuals and an auto, the auto is used for the commute to work while I have a racecar and a four wheel drive (to take the racecar to the track). The auto is lovely when you have a coffee on the go, and the manuals do a far better skid.
They all have their merits, it's purely down to individual choice and don't see any need to try and justify it.
Well theres your problem, you wouldn't take a tractor on a track day why would you take a sports car into stop and go traffic? buy a small manual, sit in second problem solved, will pay for itself with the petrol you will save.
I have owned manual my entire life and IMHO after the first month driving switching becomes something your brain does automatically, pretty much like biking.
But yes, automatics are just so much more comfortable during rush hour.
You're just not worthy of a stick. I'd get a crash box if they offered one. Synchromesh is for wussies.
Automatic transmissions are therefore regarded as either boring, or for people who do not have the skills to drive a manual.
I drive a car with an automatic transmission and people always ask me why I'd drive a 'boring' car. Then I explain it is actually 'sporty' because it has paddle shifters (which I never use), and suddenly it becomes acceptable again.
Some of the older automatics were also hilariously bad, with clunky gear changes and noticeably long delay on kick down. Perhaps American drivers were more tolerant of this because they drive such long distances, so a relaxing drive was more important than an engaging one.
Nowadays the ZF automatic transmission from Germany is one of the best around. Thankfully my Grand Cherokee has an 8 speed ZF instead of an unreliable Chrysler 5-speed.
Also I quickly checked, it seems that if you're willing to buy from dealerships' inventory, the sticker price is a moot point. Let's say you want a Golf 1.5 TSI (which is probably the most popular compact car over here in Switzerland), I find 14 of them with a manual transmission, and 96 with a DSG, and it seems trivial to find the exact same model for a similar price, or even cheaper.
1. These automatic transmissions are still the weak spot on most vechicles.
2. They still use clutch bands that wear. The trannies are anything but simple. Most mechanics farm out rebuilding a tranny. I would recon that a malfunctioning automatic transmission us the number one cause of junked vechicles, besides wrecked vechicles.
3. It's straight forward weekend job to replace a clutch.
4. We all know modern engines can put close to 300,000 miles on them. Manufacturers know it. There's a reason they only give 70-100k on the tranny.
5. A modern automatic transmission is not a simple fix. Even AMCO guys are learning on your dime (notice they won't just give a price for a complete rebuild over the phone? AMCO in San Rafael, CA. Yea, I remember you slick.)
6. When checking a used vechicle, check that tranny fluid. It should be pink as a baby's butt. (Even then--there's no guarantee. The seller could have just changed the fluid. It shouldn't be black, brown, or smell burnt.
7. Sorry about my tirate on automatic transmissions. I've been to Automotive school, and worked as a mechanic for two years. The Automatic Transmission always intimided me.
If anyone could come up with clutch bands that don't wear, well let's say, you could dine with the 1 percenters? Tyat that be hell though?
I don't think older automatics are hard to work on (50s-70s era), but I agree that the modern electronic ones are horribly complex.
Are you serious right now?
@icantdrive55 you are 100% right.
But over the last few years the automatic has increased dramatically in popularity with the more serious brands like BMW and Audi. Not just in their top models, BMW has been selling an 8 speed automatic as standard even on the 1-series.
A big part of that is because modern automatic gearboxes are not slow and boring anymore. The dual-clutch type really made sales increase. And so does the increase in hybrid and electric cars which are very popular due to tax reasons and all of them are automatic.
The driving test is a choice. You don't need a medical reason, you can choose to do the test in an automatic (or hybrid / electric) car if you want to. But almost nobody does that, because you are indeed not allowed to drive a manual car after doing the test in an automatic.
Ironically I believe an American who has never driven a manual would be able to come here and rent one, because (please correct me if I'm wrong) their licences don't distinguish between the two.
I think manuals are slowly on the way out here as well, although they'll persist for a long time on cheaper cars, and a few sportier cars.
A friend's new (automatic) Audi has both faster 0-60 and higher MPG (and lower CO2 output) than the manual equivalent, so manual gearboxes are becoming more difficult to justify, even for petrolheads.
Also, a year or two ago was the first year where half the new cars sold were automatic. The first time I ever tried driving an automatic was actually when first driving my own car; we bought our car just before I got my license, so I couldn't test drive it then but I could drive it home when it was delivered. I quickly decided that I would not ever be getting a car with manual transmission.
This is especially funny to me since I'm working on Need for Speed which is all about car culture, where people have a lot of passion for driving stick.
1) They are most likely cheaper and lighter than automatics. They make more sense in cheap small cars. So if cost is an issue you may opt for this.
2) They could be more fun, depending on the car they're on. There are people who genuinely enjoy being engaged while taking a drive for fun. The more disconnected you get and the more stuff is done for you, the more it feels like you're a passenger instead of the driver. It's not just about getting better mileage, or better acceleration. The manual can be part of the fun.
For almost all other purposes an automatic transmission is the comfortable, efficient choice.
This being said, automatic transmissions can still be infuriating in some corner cases where they just can't pick the right gear. As long as there's a way to shift manually that shouldn't be a problem.
As someone who drives both automatic and manual cars, and rides (manual) motorcycles, I take umbrage with this sentiment. It regularly gets trotted out in these types of discussions and is used as a way to dismiss anyone with a different view.
If you don't feel engaged while driving an automatic, the problem is with you, not the transmission. You may find manual shifting gratifying or fun, but if you need that to feel engaged then you need to stop and think about what your mind is doing while driving.
> is used as a way to dismiss anyone with a different view
I'm sorry but being offended that some people might like something different than what you like is not complimenting you at all. You complain about others dismissing your point of view while you're dismissing their point of view. And you completely ignore the fact that I didn't state it as a universal truth. It's even highlighted: "could be more fun". Your argument revolves around "I don't understand it or like it so it must be wrong". Under no circumstance do I have to like the same things as you to be right. When talking about my tastes I am always right. No exception. If you don't feel like this applies to you then it just means you're not in the target group for my statement.
The rest of your comment is just insulting which doesn't help you make a point or even make you sound like a reasonable person.
I don't enjoy riding a motorcycle but you don't see me offended by the fact that you do. Maybe you feel engaged snoozing in the train. Don't hate the people whose minds like more. And don't contradict or insult them about what they want or like. Makes you look petty and insecure. If you need validation for your tastes this is definitely not the way to go about it.
Except perhaps for a few exotic sports cars, electrics use fixed-reduction transmissions.
Also could I go to a developing country, get a licence there, then it is valid in the UK and America?
These questions came to mind when I read your comment.
Depends on the country you get the license from. https://www.gov.uk/exchange-foreign-driving-licence has a simple click through questionaire that implies your 3rd world license would be valid for 12 months. Looks like you can also get an IDP  which will be recognised in most places in the world, but again only valid for 12 months.
First off, you would have to find a rental manual transmission. I don't know if I have ever seen a manual in all the times I have rented here in the U.S.
The police will not care about that status on your license. They probably will not notice it.
Same with prices, repairs; Auto are expensive than Manual.
The basic model, no frills European car still comes (here in Ireland) with manual transmission, manual windows (at least in the back), no Aircon (heater/fan only), no cruise control...
Since there are a lot of these, it's what people are used to, and they keep driving manuals.
Idk if Americans have ever really bought many nissan micra-esque cars.
even cheap cars can have automatic transmission, it's just option and not standard
Dacia sandero costs 7990€.
Dacia Sandero with automatic transmission costs 13750€.
and dacia it's not good example, they produced budget cars and their prices for standard features of other brands are extreme, for 14000€ you would be insane to buy sandero
Personally though, I find driving an auto much more fun. I also have a car with paddle shifters that I never use!