Why Would I Ever Want to Drive a Stick Shift?

Why Would I Ever Want to Drive a Stick Shift?

In the US less than 4% of drivers, drive a stick shift, and I can't see why I would now want to. A hundred million years ago when I was first learning to drive, my dad, a stick shift driver for life (who converted to automatic 2 cars ago), made it his number one priority and apparent death wish, to try to teach his beloved daughter to drive a stick.

He took me to this old abandoned strip mall parking lot to start my training. It did not go well. I stalled out and started, then stalled and started about 900 times in his sessions 1-3, before I could actually barely manage to drive from one end of the huge lot to the next. My dad, a very patient man, had instilled in himself, an apparent confidence for the both of us, but I was worried. I wasn't getting the hang of it. This wasn't my dream of getting in a car, windows rolled down with my friends in tow, with the wind blowing through our hair, enjoying our first true taste of freedom away from our parents. Nope. The reality was, I was going about 5 miles an hour, could not remember that I had to hit the clutch and then shift, or that I had to downshift when coming to a stop...ahhhh, it was terrible.

A month later, against my wishes, I was put on the road. You know, the road, with other actual people on it! My dad wanted me to drive about the neighborhood and back all the way around. He said, he knew I could do it. He trusted me. He had faith in me. He said I had a good teacher. He said, that teacher was going to take a nap, while I drove. "Say what," I said. "A nap," he replied, as if that made total sense. My dad closed his eyes, and off I drove peering over at him, and thinking, are you crazy man, I could kill us!

Then it happened. I hit a green light, promptly forgot to step on the clutch and stalled out right in the middle of an intersection. You have NEVER seen anyone more panicked. "Dad wake up! The car stopped! I'm stuck! Cars are honking (let's go of wheel). It won't go! I can't make it go (panicked hiccuping began). My dad woke up and carefully instructed me how to get out of that jam, said let's call it a day, and then enrolled me into Driver's Ed later that afternoon.

That was the last day I ever drove a manual. Literally. My dad traded in his stick for an automatic SUV, which he was planning to do even before I touched his old wheels. My mom drove an automatic. My first and second cars were and are automatic. All my friends and family drive automatics. The one and only person who doesn't is my brother...or I should say, was my brother, until he had a kid, and my sister in law wanted to be able to easily go from car to car in case of emergency, so he thought, hmm, kid needing to be rushed to the hospital or me and my love of driving a stick shift...the kid won.

I don't get why people think driving a stick is some sort of essential to enjoying life or makes one a better person. I'm not a race car driver. I don't feel the need for speed driving through the city's never ending traffic. That's right...how do I even enjoy the one true benefit of driving a stick, when I'm forced to go for an hour each way through 10 mile an hour traffic. Weekend event, more traffic. Going to the airport, going to see a friend, traffic, traffic, traffic.

Driving a stick wouldn't improve anything about my driving accept make me one thousand percent more annoyed, especially after a long day when I just want to go home and relax. I have yet to meet anyone who has explained to me what benefit I can have from driving a stick. You can talk until you are blue in the face about the value of learning new things, but why haven't you learned to cook, or re-wire your house, or walk in high heel shoes, or speak 2 other languages yet? I could ask you the same thing with the same look of consternation? Automatics have come a long way in terms of fuel economy and speed; many now besting manual counterparts. Insurance rates tend to be higher for manual drivers, and studies have shown that manual drivers get in more accidents by comparison to automatic drivers. So what's the big deal?


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What Guys Said 70

  • I actually enjoy driving manual over auto. It's tricky to learn, especially hills or stop and go traffic. But I love timing how to gearshift and I find you have way more control braking, since you can use the gear down feature of the shifting and just using the engine to throttle down as opposed to just depending on breaks. Gearing down reduces speed controllably and then you break at a better, more controlled tempo. As well, since I live in Canada, and our roads tend to get really snowy and slippery with situations where you can find "black ice", you can control your breaking in these conditions way better with manual shifting down instead of the risk of locking your wheels breaking.

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  • I used to drive in SCCA, and I love to drive hard and well on a twisty road, especially in a small, light car. It's fantastic.

    But after having only sticks for 25 years, and spending a huge portion of my drive time in stop-and-go traffic, I went with an auto. My current car happens to have "manual shifting" capability if I desire - I can move the stick over to the left and then move it up or down to manually run through the gears. I rarely get a chance to use it that way.

    The fact is, TODAY, driving a stick is mostly an emergency skill - to be able to drive a car in an emergency that you normally wouldn't drive. It's also important if you drive other types of vehicles - big-rig trucks, busses, tractors, etc.

    Autos used to have only a few gears - early ones only had 2, and 3-speed autos were the norm for about 30 years - but today, autos often have 5 or 6 gears and get virtually the same mileage as manuals, so manuals have rapidly fallen out of favor. That's not a bad thing - even big-rigs and busses are increasingly autos, and in some cases, the mileage is BETTER in the autos!

    So, while even 15 or 20 years ago I would have said that learning to drive a manual was really important, things have changed a lot in that time, and I no longer think it's NECESSARY - but like many things, it's still a good skill to have, and IF you have the aptitude for it, you should learn it, but if you don't - and Asker, it clearly sounds like you don't - then that's okay too.

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  • There is really NO reason you should learn to drive a stick transmission. It is not necessary at all. Worse it is hard to find a manual transmission car to even purchase much less drive. Some sports cars can no longer be ordered with a manual transmission.
    With that said. I own 4 cars and three of them are manual transmissions. I have been driving manual transmission cars for 40+years. Love them. You have more control of the vehicle. Although today it is more of a badge of courage. At least I have eliminated a lot of people who can't steal my car. They can't drive a stick. I just picked up a 2017 Mustang and ordered it with a 6 speed manual.

    There are a number of reasons I could argue you should learn to drive one. But honestly none of them are valid for you if you don't want to learn. I'd say to me its the fun factor. When I was first test driving new Mustangs, I had a tough time finding a stick to drive. Drove a couple of Mustangs with automatics. Pretty cool six speed auto. Shift on the floor or steering wheel. When I found one with a stick I was in heaven. When I got back to the dealership, the sales guy said, totally different car with a stick isn't it. Yes, it was and I ordered one on the spot.

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  • I've known how to drive a manual transmission since I was 16 and most of the cars I've owned have been until I got an SUV, although most cars in America are automatic , but if you go out of the country they aren't and I drive big trucks for a living which are usually manual shift also, plus I haven't seen many motorcycles that are automatic. I also had the advantage of push starting some of the older cars I had if the battery was dead. So it basically is just another handy skill to know but not needed here unless you drive a motorcycle or a big truck

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  • Manual transmissions in front drive cars use cables that make shifting vague. Solved by electronic paddle shifters.
    Rear drive cars like a corvette connect the shifter directly to the transmission by strong steel linkage. You get very precise fast shifts, if you are good at it. If you are even better, you can "speed shift" without using the clutch. Manual transmissions are more efficient than automatics and you deliver more engine power to the road. And if your engine won't start you can roll it and jump start it with the clutch. Its a disappearing skill. I always felt a girl who liked driving a manual transmission set her apart and she would be good at other mechanical things.

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    • The handbrakes a cable not the gear stick. It's got selector gates and a fork, layshaft, gearshaft, clutch material on each gear for sync to bring the layshaft up to speed with the driven shaft. It's called a syncromesh transmission

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    • @Dale1982 Not talking about power transmission to the road only shifing method from the shifter in the car to the transmission under the hood.
      www.dreamershotrods.com/.../...ter-sideview-fs.jpg

    • I've never seen a cable shift gearbox. Usually it's pushrods and gates like I said. The stick is eight above the gears and pivots to select the gear to engage. A cable seems like a bad idea coz they fray and loose easily then it's away under the car to tighten or replace it

  • Really comes down to cost, performance and MPG
    Cost... Most cars are a few hundred<$1,000+ cheaper if you get the manual. It more important for economy cars.

    A new clutch is a lot cheaper than having an automatic rebuilt.

    They do get better MPG, don't soak up as much HP as an automatic... another important factor for low powered/economy cars.

    Performance wise... a lot of driver's like "Rowing through the gears" if they are out for a Sunday drive on a windy road.

    Automatics nowadays are much better than they were 10yrs ago... but some can still have Funky shifting.

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    • Most cars with auto transmissions have had better MPG for quite a while now. Autos soak up more HP? What does that mean? Autos have been faster again, for quite a while now, faster gear changes, less power lost.

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    • TOO the Fucking Retarded KID that doesn't get anything about cars.

      The BEST MPG OLD gasoline or Diesel cars did get better MPG than the Best current versions -FACT

      If you wheren't do DENSE and actually read what I said I wouldn't to YELL... or block you... YOu are TOO FUCKING STUPID are just wasting my time.

      AND NO DCT transmission are NOT automatics... even if they have an automatic feature. Automatics have CLutch packs for each gear... a DCT is a computer controlled/shifting manual transmission.

      Again if You could read and I didn't have to say it over and over like I'm talking to a mentally handicapped kid... I would need to block you.

      If you asked for a link to back up my postings... I would have happily done it as help others is why I go on forums.

    • If the transmission has (SHIFT FORKS and synchro's ) it's STILL a manual... even a if it's a DCT with an Automatic mode.

  • reasons to learn
    1. manual driving is fun. you have greater control of the car. can manage gas better.
    2. if you travel abroad chances are you are going to run into places with cars that are manual shift engines.

    it's just a good skill to have in your back pocket just in case

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  • While I don't prescribe to this idea, it might have to do with an element of control, in the sense that you know best when to shift gears. However it is also my understanding that most modern transmissions are pretty efficient at the whole shifting of gears thing.

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  • Lol. You youngin's might not believe this, but when I was learning how to drive it would cost you at least $1000 extra for an automatic. My first car was a stick. They are fun to drive but a nightmare in heavy traffic. There are people that prefer them. I have a cousin that will only drive manual trans cars. I would not want one ever again, but they are fun...

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    • Over here its pretty much like that, and almost everyone drives stick.
      I hit a lot of heavy traffic on my way home and it goes perfectly fine, just hold down the clutch and the breaks simultaneously. Shift to whatever gear you need when the speed to accelerate and then just accelerate again. Perfectly smooth experience.

  • They let you have license in America without being about to drive a manual car? Automatics are just big go-karts. Piece of piss to drive. America's roads would be empty if they forced everybody to drive with a clutch. I like the planning and the concentration involved. Watching my speed fall at a turn, need it below 15 or I'll end up in the opposite lane and I'll collide with some poor cunt. Can't take a corner in 3rd and the engines struggling at that speed. Down with the clutch, slip it into second and turn. Speed back up but there's a hill ahead and if i move up to 3rd again I might not have the torque to carry me up to the top. Your asking these questions of yourself all the time. Makes the drive more interesting

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    • 'Piece of piss to drive', let's get you in an F1 then... See how you get on.

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    • @Kkaos I will, with the toe of my boot

  • Manual transmissions are much more fun to drive than automatics and there really isn't a point to semi-automatics. I would definitely drive only manual cars if the cars I wanted to drive still had them.

    By knowing how to drive manual, there is no embarrassment when a friend hands you the keys to his Corvette or dump truck.

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  • Manual gear box
    Pros: Involving to use, more efficient than a conventional auto, cheaper to buy
    Cons: More physical effort needed, a chore in stop-start traffic, lack of mechanical sympathy may cause damage

    For some driving enthusiasts, only a manual gearbox will do. The mechanical 'connection' that you experience when shifting through the gears is satisfying in itself, and adds a layer of involvement that you just don't get from an auto. The physicality of grabbing the gearknob, the skill of disengaging and re-engaging the clutch at the right time, the blipping of the throttle to match revs on each downshift, the mechanics of the linkage connecting the transmission directly to the driver's hand, all of this is part and parcel of what makes the driving experience of many manual cars so engaging.

    Of course, that's all well and good if you enjoy driving, but if you own a car just to get from A to B and don't really care about the journey in between, the effort of using a manual can just be a chore. If you do most of your driving in town, then this effort could simply be too much in stop-start traffic. And if you're not really concentrating on what you're doing, you could stall your car at best, possibly cause damage to the clutch or gearbox itself at worst.

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    • Pros: Simple to use, smooth gearchanges, relaxing to drive
      Cons: Poorer fuel efficiency/performance, more expensive to buy, not much fun to be had

      There are a variety of different automatic gearbox types, but the conventional auto uses a device called a torque convertor to transfer engine power to the road. This hydraulic system eliminates the clutch and manages gearchanges by itself, although usually there are fewer gears for it to work with. It's easy enough to operate, but the way that these traditional auto boxes change gear means they're not designed with focused driving in mind.

      I have never driven an automatic. Here in the UK if you haven't passed your licence in a manual gearbox car you are only licence to drive automatic cars. Fuel efficiencyhas never been a big thing in the US as gasoline /petroleum and diesel are dirt cheap with America being a major oil producer and it not being taxed as much but over here it's expensive and bigger engined cars can be too expensive...

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    • Is everyone living in the 90s or something?

      A modern automatic transmission is more fuel efficient and has better performance than a manual.

    • @Kkaos only if you can drive stick

  • I think it is a good skill to have. You never know when that skill come in handy. I think being flexible is a good trait. Being good at many things than limiting yourself.

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  • Manuals are much more fun to drive, and if you ever go abroad, you will need to be able to drive one. That's about it though (there are other reasons, but they probably don't apply where you live).

    There really isn't that much difference between them. I don't find automatics any better to drive in stop-start traffic; I do find them better in snow and ice though (contrary to popular belief). I've also driven some pretty awful ones - like a Mercedes that never shifted up until over 4000rpm - in a diesel! (I've never know a car generate so much noise and so little acceleration!)

    Having said that, it sounds like you're being a bit defeatist about it - honestly, a couple of hours with a good instructor (ie. not your dad), and you'd be absolutely fine. It's not difficult, and once you can do it, it becomes second nature, and you don't even have to think about it.

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  • Honestly i live in a country where everybody drives a stick-shift. Because that is just the norm here. So thats why i learnt it.

    But why you would want to. Honestly it gives you more insight in how the car drives and why shifting is needed. It makes you understand what the car is doing even if it has an automatic. It will help you drive smoother even with an automatic. But that isn't a reason you would really care about i think.

    So i think for you the main reason would be if you ever want to travel outside of the USA and rent a car. The USA is the only country i know of that has automatics as standard. So if you ever go abroad you will have a hard time finding a rental with an automatic.

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    • My points exactly, but mainly when I've done foreign travel, it has been to visit friends and family or going on an organized trip where transportation is provided, so I'm usually traveling with them or I call Uber/cab/take public transport.

  • Here in Germany, probably 70-80% of the cars are manual, they use less gasoline and are cheaper.

    The advantage of them is that you have the car under control and not the other way around. It becomes easy to drive them once you know how to drive them. It will take you maybe 2 days to learn it and the rest is experience.

    Here in Germany almost everyone makes a manual drivers license, because in this case you are permitted to drive either manual cars or automatic ones. If you do the automatic drivers license, you can only drive automatic cars.

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  • The way you are describing it isn't your lack of driving a manual car, but your lack of motoric skills. You shouldn't drive a car altogether liie this.

    And there is value in driving stick. I drove my first years automatic, but eventually i had to drive a lot of manual cars work-related. And quite frankly, it makes you a better driver for various reasons. The most important is learning more control and understanding over the car.

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  • Traffic is no longer a problem in newer manual cars. It's enough to just put it in first or second gear and the engine moves the car forward without having to press the gas pedal.

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  • More control does have it's benefits and some people enjoy the activity. Beside that, some kinds of vehicles require manual drives. But personally I enjoy automatic. It kinda sucks that a lot of jobs will require a manual license. If only my wheel alignment could be perfect, then I could do even less.

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  • I don't think many people here have driven new automatics.

    BMW/Mercedes have 8/9 speed autos which blow anything manual out of the water in terms of shift speed and fuel economy. There is ZERO reason to drive a manual car anymore.

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What Girls Said 21

  • It's a good skill to have in the fact if you're stuck in a situation where the only available vehicle is a manual you're still able to use it.
    There are definitely enjoyable things about it, I've never had an automatic car as I like feeling the gears and being able to bump start if needed

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  • It might be pointless where you live, but where I live, the majority of people drive manually. People who drive automatics are usually seen as those who couldn't grasp manual.

    Here, we all learn manual, though there are some options to learn automatic but that's usually for people too nervous about manual or can't get it. Once you've learned manual, you can drive manual or automatic so it makes sense for us! It's only frustrating in the beginning, but it becomes second nature pretty quick and you never think about it. It's like riding a bike.

    I am happy I learned manually and it's really not that hard once you get it. I watched my parents drive since I was a child and kind of understood how it worked. Driving manually lets you feel the car and you do get more control.

    I would feel nervous driving an automatic in regards to going up hills etc. I would much rather do it manually, which kind of sounds backwards as you can roll back manually, but I like to see and feel the bite and know that when I raise the clutch, my car will move.

    It would also drive me nuts if I was driving and the car was in a lower gear than I would like/need, as it uses more petrol! We can go to gear 4 when cruising at 30mph to save petrol, but an automatic may stay in gear 3.

    You may have better automatic cars in America, but here, I hear nothing but bad things about automatic cars, such as losing momentum/power randomly and generally under performing. We had one once and it broke down on a hill because it seemed to be slipping into a too high of a gear so it couldn't actually make it up a small hill.

    You can have more fun in a manual too. ;) That's why the cars in racing and on Fast and Furious are only ever manuals. They allow you to drift and do all kinds of things with a vehicle because it provides more power and control. It's always funny seeing vids of American girls driving manual and American guys swooning over her, but girls in other countries drive manual all the time and know how and when to change gears appropriately, haha.

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    • For all the reasons you mention, it is pointless where I am. Again, the majority drive automatic, and I don't know any driver's ed that teachers manual anymore. I actually live somewhere where the land is flat... no mountains, not even hills except man made ones. I spend the majority of my time stuck in traffic so going fast isn't really a viable option to experience the joys of switching gears, and automatics are pretty comparable to manuals now and cheaper to insure. I'm not knocking manual drivers, because I believe for you, they are all that you describe, but I just don't see the benefit for me at this point.

  • In the olden days automatic was considered a luxury and were more expensive. Manuals allow you to have more control over the car when driving. If you were to ever go overseas you will not be able to drive without knowing how to drive a manual. I went years ago and I had to teach my boyfriend at the time how to drive a manual bc I did not hold a licence there like he did. I don't know where that number is from, but I know tons of people in my area that do and can drive manuals. I can even drive a manual, I just do it a bit differently haha. I honestly think everyone should drive one that have to actually drive and hang up the damn phone. It would make everyone more focused. I think the reason people think they can't drive them is that they worry too much. Don't panic and worry, just get into it and drive. That's the only way to learn. Some one might mention basics, but at the end of the day only you can teach yourself. It's not hard.

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  • It means you aren't limited to automatic cars.

    I don't know about where you live but here if you want a second hand car and you can't drive manual? You've just lost 2 thirds of perfectly good market.
    That 2002 model hatch back with only ten thousand mileage? Only 4000 buckeroons? She's a manual. Good luck finding an auto at that good a bargain.

    I don't see the point in limiting what I can can drive. Granted I'm not even off me Ls yet so I can't drive at all unless I've got someone with a full license coaching me, but I want at least half me hours to come from a manual so I've got just as much confidence driving a clutch as I do parrelel parking *horrified shiver*

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  • I never drove a stick shift myself mainly cause I never had the opportunity to drive one cause my parents never owned a car that had stick shift either. Personal I don't see it as cool or being better just cause you know how to drive stick, I just see it as extra work and someone not caught up with the times to be perfectly honest. It's like that one store that only accepts cash while everyone else around them accepts debit or cash. But if that's the type of car people have or drive then it's cool..

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  • automatic is for those who are using the car cos they have to.

    manual is for those who do love their car. (and really can drive)

    automatic caused us only problem, where a manual wouldn't. it just didn't switch. we were driving uphill with like 30km/h. was really annoying. (it was a hired car)

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  • manuals are easy to drive you just need a bit of motor control, they are way more fun and keep you much more engaged with the road and vehicle. most people switch off rather quickly driving and go into autopilot and they switch off quicker still with an automatic. a manual keeps a bit more of that awareness.

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  • Because it's a whole lot of fun! My first car was a stick, it's sporty and makes most any drive a bit more interesting because it makes you pay attention to your surroundings, hills, up, down, curves. . .

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  • Well in the UK, I've barely seen anyone driving a automatic. It's all manual. So it'll be handy if you go to another country.
    Also at least then you can do both. As not sure if it's the same in your country but in mine, if you pass in an automatic, you can only drive an automatic which will limit your options if you ever have to get another car or insurance give you one.

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    • In the US if you get license, you can drive either or.

    • : suppose depends where you live. Just here, there's a lot more benefits for manual

  • There are several benefits of using manual over automatic in different traffic streams and conditions. Also, some people like to have the power and control over and feeling of the engine. Another benefit can be the fact that stick shift requires more attention to different tasks, switching gears, control of clutch, gas and brake pedal, use of two feet etc. and so drivers are less inclined to sleep etc. However, in the age, when the automatic and connected vehicles will be deployed sooner than expected, I find it pretty ridiculous and outdated for people to have the need to drive stick shift, imho.

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  • I don't like manuals either. Automatic for me always even though I know it's good to know how to drive a stick.

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  • Oh wow I didn't realize it was that difficult for some people. I've been driving a bit, started learning stick a few weeks ago and it just came naturally to me.

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  • Nice Take :)
    Personally a lot of people I know prefer manual over automatic

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  • Your right in today's world there isn't really much of a need to know how to drive a stick. I drive a stick at work & will never buy another of my own.

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  • I'll stick to an automatic. I have no idea how to drive a stick and while it'd be nice to know how to.. i would probably end up causing a lot of accidents instead.

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  • well you may travel to another country and all they have are manual drives. What will you do then?

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    • The same thing I do now, order a cab/Uber/friends drive/take public transpo... but this is no different from what I do if I'm traveling locally without my car, as in I flew into town to visit a friend.

      I mean, if I moved to a foreign land, I would 100% basically be forced to learn and most likely would have to buy a manual car, but for now, I'm in the US, and it's a non-issue.

  • You have more control with a manual. I almost prefer it

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  • As an American, I find it worthwhile to drive stick and have had several 5 speed cars because I know I can drive any car if I ever need to, plus it keeps me more in-tune with how I'm driving. But I already drove automatic for over a year before I tried to learn stick.

    Here's the trick. When the engine is at about 2500-300 RPM, shift up. You'll get it.

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  • Good

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  • It's not for everyone

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