One of the key decisions when buying a car is which transmission type you're after: automatic or manual. It's a decision which rears its head from the very beginning of our driving journeys, with new drivers faced with the daunting task of deciding whether or not they want to learn how to drive manual. While there's no inherently wrong answer to the automatic versus manual debate, there are certainly some pros and cons surrounding each.
Put simply, an automatic transmission will change gears for you, providing a less involved driving experience while a manual transmission requires the manual use of a clutch and gear stick to pick and choose which gear you want the car to be in. Each provides the connection between the engine and the axle and gives the vehicle the ability to efficiently translate the power from the engine to optimum wheel rotation at different speeds.
All is not equal when it comes to maintenance cost and gearbox repairs, though, with one type of gearbox notching a clear win against the other.
While automatic gearboxes certainly provide an easier driving experience, making it one less thing that the driver has to worry about, they are also inherently more expensive than manual transmissions both in initial cost as well as lifetime maintenance costs.
The main reason that automatic transmissions are more expensive is simple: they're so much more complicated. If you've driven a manual, you know that there are several steps involved with changing gears, and doing so at the wrong time can have serious repercussions. An automatic transmission not only needs to know how to change gears and the best time to do it, but it also needs to perform all the steps that a manual driver would normally perform on top of housing all these moving parts. While an automatic transmission will not necessarily fail before a manual transmission, it will be much more expensive when it does.
Other reasons why manual transmissions can be more cost-effective other than their lower initial cost and simplicity include the fact that experienced drivers can correctly operate a manual transmission so as to minimise wear, as well as the fact that the clutch in between the driver and the gearbox will take most of the brunt of the wear associated with the changing of the gears. While this is certainly not a cheap part to replace or repair either, it is much more affordable than undergoing intricate gearbox repairs.
All in all, if you treat your car right and uphold the correct maintenance schedule, you should be able to get the most out of your gearbox. It's certainly not going to be cheap to repair or replace a gearbox, but it's not going to be a regular occurrence and it's certainly an integral part to the function and safety of your vehicle.