Frequently Asked Questions
Please check out some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive about automatics.
How do I drive an Automatic Car?
Automatic cars are easier to drive than manual transmission cars, which make them ideal for new drivers, those who find the gear lever a bit stiff or who need a modified car due to some physical restriction. Basically you just move the selector from P (for Park) to D (for Drive) and off you go. This is why automatic cars are sometimes associated with Motability, and many of our cars come from this source. The reason they are used for such schemes is due to the ease of driving. There are driving schools in most areas that can provide tuition in driving automatics.
When I stop at traffic lights or a give way sign will I need to put the transmission into “park” or “neutral”, plus put the handbrake on?
From time to time you will want to stop in traffic. On these occasions you need to make sure that the car is secure. Whether driving a manual or automatic, it’s a good idea to use the handbrake to secure the car when you stop for more than a moment. Stay in drive so that you are ready to move and apply the handbrake. If waiting a long time, apply the handbrake and then select neutral. This removes the chance of “creep” if the handbrake is not securely applied. When parking use the “park” position as soon as you stop. This locks the transmission.
Are Automatics more expensive to buy and run?
The assumption that automatic cars are far more expensive than their manual equivalents is more historic than accurate. Early automatic transmissions reduced fuel efficiency and power. Most cars sold in the United States since the 1950s have been equipped with an automatic transmission. This has, however, not been the case in Europe and much of the rest of the world. Where fuel is expensive, and thus engines generally smaller, these penalties were more burdensome. In recent years, with the introduction of advanced technology, automatic transmissions have significantly improved in their ability to support high fuel efficiency. Nowadays the difference in consumption between the best modern auto and manual transmission cars is negligible, particularly if the user mileage is around or below average.
As far as repair costs are concerned the majority of modern auto transmissions are extremely reliable and will give many thousands of miles trouble free service. Although the cost of repairs can be expensive should a failure occur, this must be considered against the inevitable cost of clutch replacement in a manual gearbox version.
Furthermore cars with automatic transmission retain their value best when you come to sell them on, according to figures from Glass’s Guide, the leading motor trade valuation service. Although they may initially cost a little more than their manual-gearbox equivalents the difference is usually recouped at resale time.
Are Insurance costs higher?
Not usually. Insurance companies base their rates on the costs of repair and the chances of those costs being incurred, taking into account the many factors that influence these chances. Comparing manual and automatic versions of like model cars, the costs of repairing accident damage to either are going to be similar, if not identical. You would therefore expect the insurance costs to be the same and in the majority of cases you would be right.
However, because the incidence of claims can be lower for drivers of some automatics, it is occasionally possible to find lower rates quoted for automatics than manual variants.