Which is the More Reliable Transmission for a Pickup Truck – Manual or Automatic?


May 03rd, 2021

Which is the More Reliable Transmission for a Pickup Truck –   Manual or Automatic?

The automatic vs. manual transmission battle is a tight one. Interestingly, this hasn't always been the case. I don’t intend to shove my opinions down your throat. So, I’ll present you with an objective evaluation of both transmission types. Let’s get to it.

Should I Buy a Manual or Automatic Pickup Truck? Why?

For starters, you should know that the trends are in favour of automatic transmissions. 

With automatics now the norm and demands for stick shifts at an all-time low, car manufactures are pumping the most of their time and money into developing superior automatic transmissions to meet customer demands. Which leads us to a question: What’s responsible for the growing interest in automatic transmission vehicles? 

Automatic drives are no longer considered the weaklings. Today, they are robust and reliable, thanks to advancements in fluids, materials, and design sciences. 

The manual gearbox in pickup trucks used to be cheaper, more robust, more efficient, and more reliable than their automatic counterparts. That’s not necessarily true today. The efficiency of automatic transmissions has improved tremendously, and former concerns such as overheating are hardly that significant anymore. 

For many drivers, automatic transmission is the preferred transmission type in heavy load applications, thanks to their newfound ability to effectively upshift and downshift while pulling heavy loads uphill or slowing the utility truck when descending. 

Plus, the torque converter in auto transmission vehicles allows slip, making them less likely to jerk and cause shock loads to the drive shafts and axles. This ability, along with quick upshift and downshifts, makes an automatic great for towing and off-road purposes. The bottom line is, manufacturers have done well with newer automatic transmissions. Below is a quick run-through of the advantages of stick shift and automatic transmissions.

Advantages of Automatic Transmissions

It's worth noting that these facts are just as true for utes as they are for sedans, SUVs, sports cars, and whatnots.

1. Easy to Drive 

Automatic transmissions are incredibly easy to learn. This well-known fact about auto drives is possibly its biggest selling point. One can go from rookie to pro in just a few days and with little less stress. On the other hand, the learning curve of a manual gearbox is quite steep; it takes a bit of practice for most drivers to get comfortable with jumping between three pedals and coordinating their limbs to control the steering and manual gearbox independently. 

2. Not Manually Restrictive

Beginner drivers are taught that having both hands on the wheel 100% of the time is the safest and best way to drive. In fact, having only one hand on the steering wheels is a driving offence in certain nations. Automatic drives make it easier to live by this both-hands-on-the-wheels rule.

3. Easier to Use in Heavy Traffic

Starting, accelerating, decelerating, and constantly shifting gears can get tiresome in heavy traffic. Driving a car with automatic transmission makes it easier to move through heavy traffic with only pushing a single pedal. Auto drives are the more convenient to drive in stop-and-go traffic. 

4. Less Chance of Stalling

Don’t you hate incidents where your utility truck accidentally stalls right when the traffic light changes? This problem isn't commonplace for automatic car owners because automatics use a viscous, fluid coupling, which allows the transmission to slip when you stop in front of a traffic light and prevent the engine from stalling. Stalling only occurs if there is a different mechanical problem in the pickup.

5. Easier to Drive in Hilly Areas 

Accurate control is critical to prevent stalling or rolling back when you’re driving uphill. If you’re a beginner driver, you may find that navigating steep inclines in a manual gearbox is quite tricky, especially if you're attempting to do it from a dead stop. With automatic transmissions, this challenge is easier to handle. Just throttle and steer your wheels and you can keep your vehicle moving regardless of how steep the hill might be.

6. Offers Better Fuel Economy

In the past, it was well known that manual utes were more fuel-efficient. But as newer automatic transmissions gained additional gears and relied less on a torque converter, they have now overtaken stick shifts in fuel economy.

Advantages of Manual Transmission

1. Cheaper Upfront Cost

The manual transmission is usually less expensive than an automatic pickup. If you’re buying a ute and on a budget, then the manual would be a better option for you. A manual drive is typically about $2000 cheaper than an automatic of the same model.

2. Less Expensive to Maintain

The automatic transmission has more moving parts, and so its repair costs are higher. On the other hand, manual transmission vehicles require very little upkeep, and maintenance and repair costs usually end up being comparatively lower.

3. Better Control

Automatic transmissions are created to choose the best gear for any situation automatically, but gears might shift too often because it has many. Manual transmissions give drivers complete autonomy over which gear to engage each time.

4. Fewer Chances of Getting Stolen 

Funny as it may sound but a manual transmission vehicle is less likely to be stolen. Why? You may wonder. Generation Z folks and even some millennials—the late '90s babies—were born into the automatic-cars-dominated world. In other words, you're looking at a whole generation of young folks who most likely don't know how to drive stick shifts and are largely uninterested in learning it. See how that makes sense now? 

It’s Your Choice

And now the ball is in your court: automatic drive or stick shift drive.

If you’re the type of car owner who loves to learn, let me invite you to our blog. It’s filled with helpful tips and information about cars, so make sure to stick around. Also, when it comes to finding auto parts, think about us as your partner. Our network has over 500 sellers ready to assist you in locating the part you need. Don’t think twice—send us a request now!

By Damilare Olasinde