What is the difference in learning to drive in a manual or automatic car?

There are lots of things to consider when you decide to learn to drive but one of the main things is, shall I drive in a manual or automatic car?

So, what is the difference?

Basically, it is all about the gearbox, in a manual car, you will have to operate the clutch and gears yourself, while an automatic car changes gears for you depending on your speed.

This means that manual cars have some extra controls that you will need to operate that simply are not present in automatic cars: a gear stick and a clutch pedal.

A manual pedal set-up. The pedal on the far right is the accelerator, the pedal in the middle is the foot break and the pedal on the left is the clutch.

An automatic pedal set-up. The pedal on the far right is the accelerator, the pedal in the centre is the break pedal. I know it looks like there is a third pedal on the left-hand side but that is actually a footrest for your left foot, which is mostly redundant when driving an automatic car.

Because of these extra controls, manual cars can be a little harder to learn at the start of your training, which can lead to longer learning times.

While it may seem like Automatic is the logical choice it does come with some drawbacks. If you pass your driving test in an automatic car, you are only legally allowed to drive automatic cars, basically your driving licence will be restricted.

Learning to drive and passing the driving test with a manual transmission means your licence will allow you to drive both manual and automatic cars.

While Automatic cars are becoming ever more popular most cars that are on the UK roads have use a manual gear box.

I hope this has helped and as always feel free to ask any questions you may have!

Keep driving, stay safe and I hope to see you next time.

Graeme Howard
Franchise manager
Union school of motoring

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