10 Horrible Disadvantages of Automatic Cars

With every passing day, automatic cars are becoming more and more popular. Cars with manual transmission are becoming the talk of the past. Still, 37% of all light vehicles driven today have a manual transmission.

So, what is that people despise about automatic transmission? and what are the disadvantages of automatic cars? Let us take a closer look:

1. Delayed Response

People hate automatic transmissions due to their delayed response. You can feel this problem at its worst while driving on hilly terrain and twisted roads. The torque converter in automatic vehicles does not adapt well to continuous changes in the slope of the road. Due to which drivers often experience a delayed response.

The power generated by the vehicle is a trade-off between torque and rpm. In lower gears, you have high torque but low rpm. In higher gears, you have low torque but greater rpm. It is advised to stay in lower gears while climbing the slope. This is due to the ability of lower gears to provide more torque necessary to climb slopes.

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When a car with automatic transmission senses slope it sends a signal to the torque converter. Upon receiving this signal the torque converter allows more fluid into it. In order to generate more torque. When a flat road is detected it allows fluid to enter at a higher speed instead which offers more rpm. But when the slope is changing continuously torque converter receives one signal after the other which affects its performance. hence the delayed response.

2. Expensive Cars

Automatic cars are slightly more expensive than manual cars. Since automatic cars have more sophisticated parts and mechanisms. Which only makes sense to be expensive. Automatic cars have a transmission with a broader speed selection range and costly torque converters to replace the clutch system. According to a recent survey, automatic cars on average cost $2000 more than manual cars.

Automatic cars have a gearbox offering more speed combinations, hence a higher number of moving parts due to which it is more expensive. In addition to that, automatic cars use an alternate mechanism like a torque converter in place of a clutch system which costs more. Though there are some exceptions as well. You’ll find certain cars which have equal prices of automatic and manual trims. But in general, the gearbox of automatic vehicles is more expensive.

Also read: Manual or Automatic- which Transmission Last Longer?

3. Frequent Breakdowns

Cars with automatic transmission are more likely to break down as compared to manual ones. It is due to the obvious reason that automatic transmissions have more moving parts, hence higher chances of a breakdown. An industrial survey report showed that automatic vehicles had an average of 5 more problems per 100 vehicles as compared to manual cars.

Manual cars are a blessing in disguise. With fewer moving parts they follow simpler construction. The manual transmissions tend to be less problematic and don’t break down often. As opposed to that you might run into issues with the automatic transmission cars. Because cars with automatic transmission have more linkages, more gears, and more associated parts.

4. Higher Fuel Consumption

Automatic transmission is less efficient as compared to manual transmission. It is primarily due to the in-built deficiency of automatic transmission to lose power. In recent times automakers have produced automatic cars that are equally efficient as manuals. But in the past, it was a common fact that automatic cars consume 15-20% more fuel as compared to manual ones.

We have discussed the torque converter in greater detail above. Even here the culprit for higher fuel consumption is the torque converter. A torque converter is basically a turbine. One end of which is connected to engine output and the other to the transmission. Different gear ratios decide the inflow of fluid into the turbine. This fluid rotates the turbine and the resulting momentum is shifted to the other side. Changes in flow rate and velocity of incoming fluid decide the torque and rpm trade-off ratio.

As we know that turbines aren’t 100% efficient there are certain flow losses internally. Due to which only 80-90% of the total power generated by the engine is transferred to the transmission. On the other hand, manual gear systems are the most efficient means of transferring power between two points to date. They have an efficiency of more than 97%. Hence lesser fuel consumption in manual vehicles.

5. Lesser Control

We are becoming the slaves of the computer. Automatic cars are nothing but a manifestation of this thought. As with automatic transmission, we are not the ones in control. Actually, it is the computing brain of the car that is responsible for making all the decisions for us. Hence, the driver has lesser or limited control over his vehicle in an automatic car.

This limited control affects the driving capability greatly. When a car is traveling on a road with a continuously changing slope it has to shift between gears immediately. For example, when a car traveling in 4th gear on a 15-degree slope suddenly enters 60 degrees slope, ideally it has to shift to 2nd gear.

With a manual vehicle this is easy, the driver just pushes the stick and changes gear. But in automatic transmission ECU sends a signal of the increased slope. First car changes from 4th gear to 3rd gear and then from 3rd to 2nd gear. Hence, this limited control in automatic cars adversely affects the driver’s control and ability to maneuver.

6. High Maintenance Cost

Not only do the cars with automatic transmission break down more often but they also have higher maintenance cost as compared to manual vehicles. It is common fact that automatic transmission is complex and has more moving parts. The fixing cost of an automatic transmission can vary between $1,800 and $3,400 depending on the severity of the issue.

In addition to being more reliable manual transmission is also more pocket-friendly. The maintenance of a manual transmission can cost between $300 and $1,400. This is almost half the cost of maintaining a car with automatic transmission. Service centers tend to charge more for fixing automatic transmissions. They cite that auto transmissions are highly complex and require more time and skill to fix.

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7. Less Mechanical Efficiency

Cars with automatic transmission have lesser mechanical efficiency as compared to manual ones. This disadvantage is the extension of more fuel consumption in automatic transmission. As we discussed in detail that the turbine of the torque converter is only 80-90% efficient. So the mechanical efficiency of the gearbox is decreased.

As opposed to that manual gearing mechanism is extremely efficient as there is no flow loss in it. Rather two mating bodies transfer power between each other, hence no chance of any losses. As a result, the mechanical efficiency of a manual transmission is higher.

8. Sluggish Acceleration

In an automatic transmission, you might feel that you’re pressing the accelerator and the vehicle isn’t moving. Most automatic cars have a problem of sluggish acceleration. This can be due to two main reasons, one due to the inherent slow response of automatic transmission and the other one due to the delayed sensor response.

As already pointed that automatic transmission changes gear step by step. This is the reason why most racing cars have a manual transmission instead of an automatic. Since it enables them to accelerate quickly. On the other side, the senor malfunctioning in automatic transmission can also cause sluggish acceleration.

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9. Low-performing cars

Most high-performance cars like F1 racers employ a manual transmission instead of an automatic system. The overall performance of a manual transmission is way better than automatic. They have fewer moving parts, better fuel efficiency, higher mechanical efficiency, swift acceleration, and they take lesser space.

Since performance is nothing but the combination of these factors. Higher fuel efficiency means more power at the wheels. Lesser fuel consumption indicates higher speed due to lesser weight in the fuel tank. In addition to these, the manual transmission also offers better control, handling, and engaging driving experience. Hence, all these factors come about to make manual cars high-performing.

10. Theft Magnets

This is a funny one but surely a disadvantage of the automatic transmission. Thieves are twice more likely to steal an automatic car because they are more trendy and their parts sell like hotcakes. Moreover, the prices for the parts of an automatic transmission are also higher.

This disadvantage is supported by several facts. As automatic transmission has a higher number of parts, so for the same amount of effort and risk thieves get extra parts. Automatic cars break down more often so naturally, there is a higher demand for their parts in the market. All these reasons make automatic cars perfect theft magnets.

Are Manual Cars Better Than Automatic Cars?

People have their reasons to hate automatic cars but it is unfair to assume that manual cars are better than automatic.

It all comes down to your priorities and what you want in your car. If you live in a hilly or mountainous area then the manual transmission will suit you best. But under normal driving conditions, automatic transmission is a hassle-free experience that enhances your driving pleasure.

So, it all depends on your liking and preference.

Automatic cars have their disadvantages but they also offer certain perks. On the other side, manual cars have their pros but they aren’t without problems as well. Trends show that the popularity of automatic cars is growing worldwide. People are putting their confidence and money into them. This is only happening because they see a higher return on investment in this scenario.


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