Is the Manual Transmission Really Dead?


Our friends over at Ford Truck Enthusiasts recently wrote about the impending death of the manual transmission, with only 5% of new cars and trucks purchased in the last 10 years having a good ol’ stick shift.

It seems that number is only going to decrease as manufacturers decide to produce fewer models with manual transmissions and in some cases eliminate them all together.

FTE seems to have found an answer as to why people are opting for automatic transmission in a forum post from user Frdtrkrul.

My issues [with manual transmissions] are that different clutches engage at different points, or various manufacturers make you do something really dumb to get into reverse. VW makes you push the shift lever down to get the transmission into reverse. In order to get the key out of a Saab’s ignition, the transmission has to be in reverse. Manuals are not very user friendly for new people to drive them. I love manuals to death, but my good Lord, they are a pain in the ass to learn. There are too many variances in where the clutch grabs, or different shift patterns to learn.

I’m having trouble with the complaints listed by Frdtrkrul because these are all things that you only need to learn once. It’s like learning to ride a bike. No one was born with the innate ability to ride, but we all managed somehow. And let’s not even talk about learning to use cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.

To me, the unpopularity of the manual transmission is more an indicator of how lazy we as drivers have become and how dependent on technology we are. I would much rather be on the road with a new driver that’s struggling with a stick shift than a seasoned driver that’s eating, texting and grooming in a car with an automatic transmission.

I think we all need to #GiveaShift.

29 Comments on Is the Manual Transmission Really Dead?

  1. This is bs. Only 5% sold my a.., how about they don’t offer manual but in mabey 10% of the models or engine combination. Like the Ford ranger which only offered manual with the 4cyl but not the v6. Guess what, I never bought the v6. American companies only offer manual in pickups and muscle cars with some engines. Foreign cars offer manual on more chassis but still not with all engines.

    • Actually I think the manual is no longer available in most full-size pickups anymore. I still have a ZF 6-speed equipped Powerstroke diesel in my Superduty pickup, and they can forget about me ever buying another one unless and until they offer a manual again.

      • I think you can get them if you order or look around for a diesel. But good luck trying to get one in a gas Dodge or Chevy truck. Toyota has them on all Tacoma engines and configurations not sure on Tundra. Nissan don’t even count.

        • I’m talking about full-size pickups, not Toyotas or Nissans.
          It’s a shame that Americans have become so lazy and disinterested in driving and the mechanicals of how their vehicles work.
          If you understand how the clutch system and manual trans work, learning to drive them is a cinch.
          I learned to drive a manual, first on a dirtbike and then on a little Cushman truckster, when I was so young that I honestly can’t recall NOT knowing how to drive a manual.

          • I’m included Toyota, which has a full and compact still as a comparison of how bad it is that Dodge and Chevy and Ford done have them across the board but Toyota does.

          • Toyota does not make a 5 sp in a Prerunner PU unless a 4×4.
            I just bought a tacoma with narrow box and a auto. my first and last. I have a 94, 5 sp toyota with 200k miles love it can go to 3rd to pass with a 4000 lb load (car on trailer) NO GEAR for auto
            OD is so high gear wont pull at 60 mph at 2100 rpm. worthless.
            Gets 20 mpg and old 22R gets 27 mpg, love it and sell auto.
            Also just put clutch disc only with old pressure plate. never hurt
            flywheel or PP cost 38.78 for disc after 200K automatic cost
            $1000. or more, Stay with my old 94 R=22 love it

          • Dodge DOES offer a manual in their heavy duty pickups/chassis cabs.. (2500-5500) behind the Cummins diesel. It’s the Mercedes Benz built G56 6 speed manual..

  2. I’ve always had a 4-speed in all my autos and trucks. I even paid extra to have a standard put in my 03 Dodge ram. It’s a 5-speed, But that’s ok. I don’t use the “PUSSY” O.D. That truck now gets up and “GOES”.

  3. I & all my friends growing up had cars & trucks with stick shift in them. That was the only way to go-go-go. It seems now days every one got lazy or they have to many other things to do while driving except to drive the damn car. People spend to much time playing with all those new gadgets they put in cars today, and they wonder why there are so many accidents. It’s hard to find a vehicle with a standard transmission these days. I don’t think you can get one instead of automatic these days without it costing a bunch of cash$$$. I still love my stick shift.

  4. My problem with the newer automatics is that they are building them for good mileage and forgetting about maintenance. As your car ages, it will invariably need that 6 or 8 speed automatic transmission rebuilt. That’s when reality sets in. You have a car that runs fine and looks OK, but is only worth about $4,000. Then the transmission shop (or worse yet the dealer) tells you that your transmission overhaul will cost $4,500 to $6,000!! You can still get a new clutch for about $550 installed. The 5-speed in my Chevy pickup was just $950 for the rebuild. Needless to say, I still have my pickup, it runs just fine, and I have no monthly payments to make on it.

  5. Every vehicle I own is a manual, except for my diesel pusher coach. I guess 35 foot long shift linkage might be a little balky. LOL

    Seriously, as long as I have two legs I will NEVER buy a car with a slushbox.
    Also, don’t be fooled, the vast majority of “flappy paddle” equipped cars are simply an auto slushbox with a couple switches added to the steering column.

  6. On the back of by blown big block 55 Chevy it says very plainly, ” I’d rather eat worms than drive an automatic”. That same statement has been on every drag car I’ve built. It will be on the one I’m building now. Old SRD Vega pro stock car, 638″ pump gas, dual dominator STICK! Yeah, they break drive lines when things aren’t set up properly but there’s no substitute for the experience. It’s FUN! Oh, the 55 is tagged and street driven regularly. I may even stick a tag on the Vega if I feel onery. 🙂

    • I wish everyone I raced had a stick. Way more wins for me. An auto is the only way to go if you’re serious about drag racing

      • In road racing, SCCA does not allow automatics. I suspect it’s due to their tendency to puke trans fluid all over the track when they get hot.
        That stuff is slippery, same as antifreeze, another no-no on track.
        Years ago during my SCCA competition licensing school, I rearended a really nice 911 turbo due to some moron blowing a radiator hose, and still had antifreeze in the system. I apologized to the 911 owner, and fortunately he understood completely what happened, and that you put your car on track at your own risk.

  7. Yeah stick rules. I do give a shift. I have three of these babies and they ‘re a blast to drive. Yes I am over fifty, but once you learn how to use these sticks, it’s an awesome experience.

  8. The reason I “shifted” from driving manuals (mustang and Camaro) for 20 years is because traffic gridlock is so bad around here (metro detroit) that I just couldn’t deal with shifting from first to second to neutral 10-15 times each mile. It takes me an hour to go 12 miles to work. Traffic is completely stopped for miles in a row. (Not only that, the potholes are as big as craters; serious fire departments are writing editorials complaining that the road in front of their station is so bad 1) they’re breaking axles and rims every day and 2) late to respond frequently – but the overpaid bureaucrats who suck up all our taxes with their bloated payroll and have no money leftover to fix the roads! Seriously. That road in front of the firestation is scheduled for fixing in 2017! Someone should investigate the road department and see where all the money is going – because it sure as hell isn’t being spent on roads in Michigan.

  9. Hey Jason. You got any semi or final rounds at NHRA national events? Didn’t think so. I been serious about drag racing for 45yrs. Of course you have to be able to drive a stick and not a lot of people can……I can.

  10. Stick shift drag racing is still a big hit. Every year there is more and more people putting sticks in there cars to run.
    There is alot of drag racing groups for stick shift drivers.
    The Bluegrass super shifters.
    Classic gear jammers
    Ozark mountain super shifters.
    The list goes on. And fans love wheel stands.

    • Hey Tom. I’m glad to hear the OZ super shifters are still around. I’ve had a lot of surgery and it’ll be a while but if I get the car together this year I’m gonna look them up. If not, next yr but I’m planning on being out late this season.

  11. It’s dramatically harder to meet emissions with a manual so manufacturers hate them.
    thats not the real problem- the problem is everyone expects complete
    warranty- new clutch every 25K, new syncros (meaning new trans, b/c most
    dealers don’t tear down anymore) every 25K. I speak from experience, at
    a very busy dealership.
    Why in heck would a dealership put out a car that is guaranteed to cost them money?
    Why in heck would a manufacturer release a car that’s guaranteed to cost them money?
    We don’t need those big bulls eyes on our backs.
    We’ll lose money transferring a car to another dealership to not have it as our sale.

    • iadr: Who the heII has transmission troubles every 25K miles?
      The trans in my Ford Explorer has had exactly ONE fluid change in over 300,000 miles. It’s also had only ONE clutch replacement, and it’s towed my boat thousands of miles, and even towed my 9,000 pound race trailer in a pinch.

      My Focus has over 180,000 miles, again ONE fluid change, and it’s still on its original clutch.

      In fact, I’ve had only ONE manual trans that ever needed a rebuild, my old Bronco II, and it got a new clutch simply because the trans was out and it had over 100,000 miles at the time. Total cost, around $600.

      Automatics require much more frequent fluid and filter changes, run a lot hotter, and wear out a lot quicker than any manual transmission, and rebuilds cost a heck of a lot more as well.

      I’ll stick with what WORKS, and continue to enjoy my stick vehicles for a looooonnnngggg time to come. 🙂

      • See above reply… you just completely don’t get the real situation of being a dealership in today’s market. Vastly different rights than even 10-15 years ago

  12. I’m an old dog and have been driving since 1969 my first car was a stick I have owned a few automatics but I never bought a new vehicle with an automatic. I say if you can’t drive a stick you shouldn’t get a license. And to the guy that said a new clutch every 25k, bs I had 323k on my truck when it was time for new pieces.

    • We’re talking real world, and yes many people destroy clutches and gearboxes, so the cars cannot move forward, in way less than 10K miles and then expect warranty.
      You know how a clutch works, how syncros work, didn’t learn to shift from a video game, have some moral respect for the value a warranty offers. That combination makes you one in ten thousand.

      Come work in a dealership, even part time- we’re hiring… and you can see complete drivetrains ruined at less than 12K. And replaced under warranty- social media, JD Power surveys, legal liabilities, those pressures mean nothing is refused…and the owners brag about it on forums.

      Yeah I replaced a clutch on my 1963 car- no odometer reading, but had been in daily use up until around 1999- the only reason was you simply couldn’t get the OE release bearing anymore. Disc was fine, presureplate was fine, definitely flywheel needed no machining…and it’s a peppy little car.

  13. I’d say too many automakers have made horrible manual transmissions to drive. Mostly FWD American car makers IMO. Jerky, hard to drive. I just got a 97 Cobra and it’s a joy to drive. And I do pay more attention as well.

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