Are Manual Cars More Fuel Efficient Than Automatic?

Fuel consumption when choosing a car is a fairly significant indicator. When choosing a car, we, as a rule, evaluate its appearance visually, then we look at its power and a number of other indicators, among which we definitely pay attention to the fuel consumption indicator.

And many, if not all, drivers who have ever chosen a new car for themselves have probably paid attention to one fact and question are manual cars more fuel efficient than automatic? It lies in the fact that cars with an automatic transmission have a higher fuel consumption than their assembly of the same model, but with a manual transmission. Today we will look at 3 reasons why this happens. But before that, let’s take a look at how much more economical a manual transmission is than an automatic transmission.

Are Manual Cars More Fuel Efficient Than Automatic?

Why are manual cars more fuel efficient than automatic ones?

Even just 20 years ago, automatic transmissions had an imperfect design and, in terms of fuel efficiency, were significantly inferior to manual transmissions. Cars with such gearboxes consumed 2-3 liters more fuel than similar models with the same engines, but with manual transmissions. This was explained by a significant loss of power in the torque converter when switching stages, as well as a small number of gears, which significantly limited the possibilities for using an automatic transmission.

Fuel Economy of automatic transmissions

Today the situation has changed significantly, high-tech automatic transmissions have appeared, which have 7 and even 9 steps. With such transmissions, the efficiency of cars has significantly improved, and many cars with automatic transmissions eat no more fuel than those with manual transmissions. With conventional torque converter automatic transmissions, such savings are achieved due to the presence of direct and reverse top gears, which save fuel at high speeds.

Also today, such types of automatic transmissions as robots and CVTs are popular, which, due to the peculiarities of their design, allow for eliminating power loss from the very beginning, and, consequently, they save fuel. There are no classic gear shifts in CVTs, power is transferred to the drive wheels smoothly and steplessly. Accordingly, there is no power loss during switching, and in terms of fuel efficiency, such cars with a CVT are even better than cars with classic mechanics.

In recent years, robotic gearboxes have been increasingly used, which are similar in design to mechanics, but at the same time, the gear-shifting process is controlled by automation. There are no significant differences in terms of fuel efficiency between the robot and the mechanics, while, since it is not necessary to constantly switch gears and depress the clutch, driving such a car will be much easier than with a manual transmission.

are manual cars more fuel efficient than automatic? (Example Ford Focus)

for answering the are manual cars more fuel efficient than automatic we are using comparison, we decided to take the second-generation Ford Focus, a sedan, with a volume of 1.6 liters. They took it not because it is somehow better suited for comparison, but simply as a fairly popular specimen.

Characteristics of fuel consumption for manual transmission and automatic transmission in the same car

So: we turn to the technical specifications and see that the automatic transmission consumes 7.7 liters per 100 km, while the manual transmission is only 6.7 liters per 100 kilometers. It is not difficult to calculate that after 1000 km, 10 liters more gasoline will be spent on an automatic transmission. Let’s understand why this happens.

Automatic transmissions are heavier than manual transmissions

Let’s return to the same source and check whether the automatic car is really heavier than the manual transmission.

Difference in masses between the same car with automatic transmission and manual transmission

We see that the curb weight of the same Ford Focus with automatic transmission is only 5 kg more than that of a car with manual transmission. By the way, this once again proves that we didn’t take the Ford Focus in principle, because if you wish, you can find examples where the difference will be 20-30 kilograms.

However, even if this difference was 50 kg, it would hardly be possible to write off a whole liter of gasoline per 100 km on them. That is, this criterion can be attributed to insignificant and move on.

It’s all about the grip

No, no, don’t think. I do not want to say that motorists who drive a car on a mechanic are all lovers of savings and regularly squeeze the clutch in order to save money.

But still. If you press the clutch pedal on the manual transmission, you can see how the engine speed drops on the tachometer down to idle values. Whereas on the automatic transmission there are no driving and driven discs that could be unclenched by the clutch and, let’s say, “relax” the engine.

But for some part of the time, every driver of a car in a manual transmission really drives the clutch, at least even at the moment when it rolls up to a red traffic light, while this is impossible with an automatic transmission. That is, this is again a reason for which we cannot write off a whole liter, but some part can already be fully justified at the expense of it.

person better understands what will happen next

If for the previous two reasons we can write off 300 grams from the saved liter, then the rest can be safely attributed to the fact that a person is simply smarter than an automatic transmission with all its sensors.

Indeed, in fact, in the operation of an automatic transmission, everything is tied to a speed sensor, which has two defining parameters: the rotation of the wheels and the rotation of the input shaft. That is, based on the speed of the input shaft, the automatic transmission understands that it is necessary to shift gear, and based on the speed of the wheels (output shaft), the automatic transmission makes the final decision to shift.

At the same time, automatic transmission, unlike a person, does not see the future. Figuratively speaking, she knows that she will switch from 2nd gear to 3rd when the speed reaches a certain value, and the speed of the car will be figuratively 40-50 km / h. It’s all very approximate, but it’s true.

But a person knows in advance that he will now go in a straight line and that the road ahead is empty and can switch from the same 2nd gear to 3rd earlier. 700 ml. gasoline per 100 km.

are manual cars better than automatic?

are manual cars better than automatic?

If we talk about the features of operation, it should be noted that driving a car with an automatic transmission is much easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable than with conventional mechanics. In particular, such comfort is felt in the city when driving on busy streets. On a classic torque converter machine, a robot, or a variation, you don’t need to constantly turn the clutch on and off in a traffic jam while changing gears. Such work is performed by automation, greatly facilitating the task of the driver driving a car. It is not surprising that today such automatic transmissions are gradually replacing mechanics and are in increasing demand in the market.

At the same time, you need to understand that in terms of reliability, manual gearboxes are still better than automatic ones, since they have a simpler design. If the resource of a torque converter automatic transmission is usually 200,000 before overhaul and even less for a variator and a robot, then the mechanics, subject to careful operation, will run half a million kilometers or more. You also need to take into account the fact that repairing the machine will cost much more than mechanics, the restoration of which is not particularly difficult.

The car owner should also take into account the need for timely service maintenance of automatic transmissions, in automatic transmissions, it is necessary to change the transmission fluid on a regular basis, the clutch often burns out in the robot, and in CVTs, the belt is also a consumable, which, as it wears, begins to disable the cones, the restoration and replacement of which will cost car owner in an astronomical amount. Such timely service maintenance of automatic machines will become a prerequisite for the absence of critical transmission malfunctions.

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