Transmission and Drive

A question was raised in a conversation a few days ago that seems worth exploring.  What, if anything, does your transmission type preference say about your personality?

By transmission type, of course, we mean automatic or manual.  Here’s the theory on what they say…

Manual Transmission

You are all about control.  Type A personalities prefer the manual transmission because it gives them more control over speed, RPMs, and the cool VROOM noise the car makes when not in gear.  Rad, to be sure.  And it sounds exactly like the noises you made on the playground in grade school when playing with Hot Wheels.

A manual transmission has a few downsides, of course, like trying to take off while facing uphill.  No worries.  You like that kind of challenge.  And if you manage to scare the driver behind you a little so they give you some distance, bonus.

Let’s not leave out the ability to downshift, of course.  Aside from the “back off” move it allows you, it also grants you the magical power to reach down and grab some additional RMPs as needed, which can then catapult you forward when you shift to the next gear.

In short, the manual transmission is all about power and control.

Automatic Transmission

The auto driver, on the other hand, is all about a smooth ride.  Why do the extra work when the machine can handle it just as well (or better, in most cases)?  Automatics trade a little bit of gas mileage in exchange for hassle free driving, allowing them to focus on other things.  You rarely see a manual transmission driver eating cereal and reading the paper while driving, do you?

Let’s give credit to the automatics for using their time wisely, right?  After all, they can perform other tasks (calls, email, self-foot massaging) that then manual driver will find challenging.  So perhaps the automatics are more interested in efficiency and ease of use than their control-hungry counterparts?

The Cheaters

Let’s not forget these people.  They are the ones with the manual automatic transmission.  This is the type found in high end cars that will do the work for you, but offer up the steering wheel paddle shifters, just in case you want to take control.  Maybe the best of both worlds, or maybe just for people who can’t commit.  Probably the former.

To be clear, this isn’t an argument about which transmission is safer or better.  I’ve driven both types, and they both have advantages.  Some will argue manuals are safer because they demand your attention, making it less likely you will multitask.  There is not easily accessible data on crash statistics, but insurance rates are not significantly different between the transmission types, which implies one is not inherently safer than the other.

I’d love to hear from you which type you prefer, and if the descriptions above align with your personality type.  Just curious.


  1. I was SO with you until you got to the cheater part. I would fall into the manual category as a preference but my car is one of the “cheaters”. I like to imagine two car designers…one controlling and the other not and they are fighting over which transmission to put in my Saab. Obviously they get tired of arguing and just scrap it and put both in. Amazing how well this maps to personality types….ahem…Mr. Manual. 🙂 Great post!!

  2. Like the post Dwane… Type A personality + automatic transmission = controlling driver who’s too lazy to shift.

    Hmmm, that must mean something about me?

  3. Automatic manual with paddles, all the way, all day, any day. That said, if it’s not a dual shift gearbox there’s no fun in it.

  4. First just a couple bits to chew on.

    1. My first 3 cars were automatics..and it wasn’t till I was 24 when I bought my 1st stick that I knew “people that enjoy driving need a stick”. My next 3 cars have been sticks and as long as I have a choice I hope to keep getting sticks.

    2. My brother in law use to drive a stick for better gas mileage, but now that some automatics get just as good MPG as the manual and in the case of the cvt ( continuously variable transmission )get better MPG. He now prefers the automatic.

    Now about your comments on paddle cars. They are no way like a stick. If someone gets a little “weeeeee” time while driving… pulling a paddle that’s right by their hand on the steering wheel WITH THEIR FINGER TIPS. Good for them. BUT…Just like most of them don’t know the correct way to say Porsche..they don’t know the correct way to drive and enjoy a stick. I think you should change the name of that category to “those we should all feel sorry for”.

    By the way..there are the cheap owners that got the stick to save $700 – $1000 that a automatic can cost.

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