Shifting Thoughts about Shifting Gears

Do you have experience driving a manual transmission vehicle? If you don’t, perhaps you’ve formed thoughts about manual transmissions from what you’ve heard. Jeff’s Auto Repair in Lynnwood, Washington, can help you sort the fact from fiction–and, oh, yes, we can help you with service and repairs for either type transmission, as well.

The Basics: How it works and how you drive it

Unlike an automatic transmission where the vehicle shifts from one gear to another without driver effort, a manual transmission (as the name implies) requires the driver to shift gears. It is also called a stick shift (an obvious reference to the appearance in most cars unless the vehicle is equipped with paddle levers on the steering wheel) or standard transmission (because it once was standard equipment on a car and an automatic was a more expensive option). The driver starts the vehicle in neutral to prevent the car from “jumping.” After putting the car in gear and removing his/her foot from the brake (center pedal), the driver eases out on the clutch (left foot pedal) and presses down on the accelerator (right food pedal). As the car moves forward, it will reach an optimal point (which the driver will quickly learn to detect in his/her car by the feel, sound, and rpm’s shown by the tachometer) for shifting to the next gear. The driver will let off the gas, depress the clutch, shift to the next gear, and let off the clutch as the gas pedal is pressed. This process continues until the desired speed (usually the highest gear on the open road) is reached. The driver returns the car to neutral when stopping. It is very important to recognize that a manual transmission vehicle CANNOT be put in park. The driver MUST set the parking brake in order to safely leave the vehicle unattended. (Some drivers simply leave the motor shut off with the car in gear. This is not a good idea. The parking brake, as the name suggests, should be used.)

Facts and Fiction

Despite the popularity of automatic transmissions today, some drivers still prefer a manual. (Manuals account for a mere 4% of the new cars being produced.) Regardless of one’s preference, there are several common truths and misconceptions that seem to perpetually circulate. For example, many believe that manuals always get better gas mileage. While this used to be true, technological advancements have made automatics competitive in that area. Also, because there are fewer parts, most believe manual transmission repair to be less expensive than fixing an automatic. It is. However, drivers who “ride” the clutch too much (keep their foot touching it) or don’t shift gears smoothly (or “slam” the gears) have frequent related repairs such as clutch replacement and transmission repair due to broken gear teeth. More frequent repairs can quickly counterbalance any reduced expenditures elsewhere.

We’re Here To Help

Should your vehicle need attention for either transmission type, bring it to our ASE certified technicians at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Lynnwood, Washington, for professional service and repair.