Cars with manual transmissions are hard to find

Automatic or manual transmission - advantages and disadvantages for novice drivers

Cars with automatic transmissions are not very common in this country

Although automatic transmissions have become better and better over time and many conventional problems, such as slow and jerky gear changes, have long been a thing of the past, the proportion of automatic vehicles is less than 20 percent even in the current registration statistics. The Germans are not alone with this attitude, cars with manual transmissions are generally the rule in Europe. But why is it that automatic transmissions are so unpopular in this country and what advantages and disadvantages

Automatic transmissions offer some advantages, especially for beginners

Automatic transmissions offer some advantages, especially for novice drivers. First of all, driving with automatic is often easier and more intuitive, especially for beginners. Novice drivers are often overwhelmed with the simultaneous operation of the circuit and the concentration on the traffic. If you no longer have to work with the clutch and gearshift lever, it is much easier to first keep an eye on the traffic, especially since you don't have to constantly ask yourself which gear is the most suitable.
Even the dreaded stalling of the engine is not possible with an automatic transmission. Automatic vehicles start up automatically as soon as the driver takes his foot off the brake pedal. Especially in hectic situations, in which the engine can stall quickly and the stress factor is increased even further, automatic transmissions are therefore a significant relief for the novice driver.
This is especially true when driving off a hill, which is feared by many learner drivers. While you have to work with handbrake, clutch and gas pedal simultaneously in a gearshift truck and have to be very sensitive, starting up on a hill with an automatic vehicle goes by itself. If you take your foot off the brake, the vehicle becomes as if from Held on the incline as if by magic and didn't roll back an inch. As soon as the gas is activated, the car drives off easily. As a result, starting up on the mountain is no more difficult than on the flat.
The automatic is always pleasant when you get into a traffic jam. The constant stop and go with a switching truck gets on your feet and on your nerves over time, the automatic driver, on the other hand, can stay relaxed.

Driving with automatic also has its pitfalls

Driving with automatic is not completely carefree in every respect. While a driver who knows how to handle a manual transmission is always able to control the vehicle as he or she wants, with an automatic transmission there is always the risk that it will misinterpret the driver's wishes. It often happens that automatic vehicles drive at consistently low speeds at an inappropriately high speed or, if they accelerate too slowly, change to the next higher gear too early. It also takes some practice to teach the automatic transmission when to downshift again, for example to overtake. However, many modern automatic transmissions are now also equipped with a semi-automatic driving mode. This means that the driver can also intervene in the gear change himself by moving the gearshift lever forwards or backwards. This is a so-called semi-automatic.
Furthermore, parking, which is an unpopular exercise for learner drivers anyway, causes more problems than benefits for beginners with an automatic car. While small distances can be mastered with relatively great precision in a gearshift truck by finely dosed letting the clutch slip, the automatic here is much more coarse, because it only knows the starting and stopping states. Because of this special feature of the automatic transmission, tight parking spaces quickly become a test of patience for the inexperienced.

An automatic vehicle as the first car?

Vehicles with automatic transmissions are usually not affordable for novice drivers because they are usually more expensive than examples with manual transmissions and the selection on the used market is comparatively small. Above all, the inexpensive small cars popular with novice drivers such as the Opel Corsa, Ford Fiesta, VW Polo or Peugeot 207 are as seldom to be found with automatic transmissions as the famous four-leaf clover. Automatic transmissions are often only found in used vehicles of the middle class, but which novice driver can already afford an Audi A6, an E-Class or a 5-series BMW? Then there are the higher fuel costs. Older vehicles from the 90s and 2000s in particular consume an average of at least one full liter more per hundred kilometers with automatic.
In city traffic, the additional consumption can be significantly higher. Only the most modern automatic transmissions show hardly any additional consumption compared to manual transmissions, but a new car is out of the question for the vast majority of novice drivers. The risk of technical defects is also greater. While a manual transmission lasts the entire life of the car if it is handled reasonably carefully and requires practically no maintenance, automatic transmissions are significantly more prone to failure, especially in old age, especially if the transmission oil is not changed regularly. In addition, an automatic transmission often confronts the driver with a total failure if it is defective and the replacement can cost a few thousand euros in the end. If you want to buy an automatic vehicle as your first car, you should therefore precisely calculate possible follow-up costs in advance.

Is it true that a driver's license is only available for automatic transmissions?

In fact, there is an option to obtain a driver's license only for driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. While a conventional class B driving license always allows the holder to drive automatic vehicles, the automatic driving license is, conversely, limited to cars with automatic transmissions. This is what Paragraph 17, Paragraph 6 of the Driving License Ordinance says. However, this driver's license is rare in Germany, which is not least due to the low level of widespread use of automatic transmissions in this country.
For learner drivers who cannot cope with the manual transmission even after a long period of time and who also feel overwhelmed by the traffic, it can be a sensible alternative to just take the automatic driver's license first.
On the other hand, there are also some significant disadvantages. The most serious is, as already mentioned at the beginning, that the automatic driver's license binds its owner to a car with an automatic transmission. With a purely automatic driver's license you are quickly lost in everyday life, for example when it comes to driving a friend or relative's car, taking a test drive, renting a rental car or getting a replacement vehicle when your own car is in Workshop must. If you take your driving test with a manual vehicle, you are completely free to drive a car with an automatic transmission.
Driving schools that offer a purely automatic driver's license are also in the minority in this country. Due to the low level of widespread use of automatic transmissions in Germany, this is no wonder, because the purely automatic driver's license is comparatively seldom asked for. Apart from major cities, there are usually no corresponding providers. In addition, driving lessons with an automatic vehicle are often a little more expensive. The higher acquisition costs for the vehicle and the higher fuel consumption, combined with the lower demand for this type of driving license, have an impact here. However, the costs can be put into perspective if the learner driver should ultimately need fewer driving hours before the test due to the easier vehicle operation.
But what can you do if you want to switch to a switch truck at some point despite having an automatic driver's license? The good news: The holder of an automatic driver's license is not condemned to have to go through the entire driving school again. It is sufficient to repeat the practical driving test with a manually operated car. Now, however, the following dilemma arises: Since the holder of an automatic driver's license is forbidden from driving a switch truck in the area of ​​the road traffic regulations, road traffic cannot be practiced beforehand. As a rule, one or the other additional driving hour could therefore still be due. If you want to save money and time, you should at least practice starting up and maneuvering on private property until everything is done correctly.

Conclusion: does an automatic vehicle make sense for novice drivers? Advantages and disadvantages

Cars with automatic transmissions offer novice drivers an advantage that cannot be disregarded, because they are child's play to operate, even for beginners, compared to manual vehicles. However, they have their own specifics and can sometimes frustrate the driver. The higher acquisition and maintenance costs compared to a vehicle with manual transmission must also be taken into account, even if the first own car is to be an automatic vehicle. Completing the driving school only with an automatic vehicle can make sense in some cases, but later leads to many restrictions.
Here again all the advantages and disadvantages of both types of transmission at a glance

Manual switching:
  • (+) durable and low-maintenance
  • (+) cheaper to buy
  • (+) larger selection on the used market
  • (+) lower fuel consumption
  • (+) offers savvy drivers more control
  • (-) Increased burden on the driver by operating the clutch and gear lever
  • (+) relieves the driver of changing gears
  • (-) fewer possibilities to influence (exception: semi-automatic)
  • (-) more expensive to buy
  • (-) lower selection of used vehicles
  • (-) usually higher fuel consumption
  • (-) more maintenance-intensive and more prone to defects

We hope this post was able to answer your questions on the subject. If this was not the case, you are welcome to send an email to [email protected] or contact us by phone on our hotline 030 - 568 37 631. If you are looking for a driving school near you, then use the search function on our website If you have any further questions, you can also use our useful chat function there.
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