Automatic or manual

It's all about the clutch mechanism.

The F1 gearboxes are semi automatic. That is, the changes are manually selected, but the actual changing and the clutch operation is automatic. Plus they are sequential (like bike gearboxes). Despite them always being pushed backwards, they do have a reverse gear (to satisfy race regulations). But it is generally a bit rubbish.

Traditional autos are slower because of the torque convertor. This is effectively just a big fan driven by the engine, sitting in a viscous fluid, driving a second fan that is at the front of the gearbox. As you can imagine, this isn't as efficient as a clutch for accelerating.

Dunno if any of you auto drivers have tried this, but torque convertors are rated with a "stall speed". If you press your foot down on the brake to keep the car stationary, whilst in drive, and push on the accelerator, when the engine gets to the stall speed it will stall (funnily enough!). So, an auto WILL stall on a hill start if it is steep enough. But, traditional autos generally aren't paired with teeny tiny engines so you would be hard pressed to find such a hill.

The gearbox itself is quite clever. I don't know about the latest 6-speed jobbies, but the older autos are constructed from planetary gears. This allows them to change ratios pretty much instantaneously. I don't know why they don't make manual gearboxes this way, perhaps they aren't as efficient.

Of course, in 20 years we will all have CVTs anyway. Best of both worlds.
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AdamW said:
so you would be hard pressed to find such a hill.

In Derbyshire, there's a mean 1 in 4 that in winter is impossible to get up (in a manual, anyway).

Oh, hang on, it WAS an "F" reg Cortina II estate.....

Let's just say the skid marks were not confined to the road surface. Frightening!
Don't quite get that one, I must have a blond wig on today! :LOL:

Are you saying that a Cortina slid the whole way back down and over the pavements?

Ice and slopes are a bu**er of a combination. I went shopping at the "Hatfield Gonorrheoa" (that big shopping centre that hangs over the A1(M) in Hatfield). Was driving up the ramps to park on the roof. I was being a bit dozy so the car in front had moved off round a corner and up a ramp whilst I just sat there thinking about putting it in gear... Lucky for me, as the car then slid back down the ramp to where my car would have been if I had been alert!!!!! :LOL:
No pavements in that bit of Derbyshire Adam, but yes. Henry Ford's finest went backwards down the slope, far quicker than it went up, ending up at the bottom of the hill a few inches shorter than when in left the factory in 1967.
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securespark said:
Let's just say the skid marks were not confined to the road surface.

Ah, I see what you mean now... :LOL: Can't believe I didn't get THAT one!
i personnaly think autos are all about relaxed driving,being less stressfull on engine as the adaptive gear box i've got will react to your driving,if the wife potters about to the local shop it will change gear sooner for you & conserve petrol etc....but if i jump in it & whizz down dual carriageway it will hold on to the gears longer,it just monitors throttle opening,accelerator position,acceleration etc...but sometimes it has a mind of its own & going slowly will hold onto 1st gear rev before up-shifting :confused:
when my dad bought a new car he said he wanted a manual as he needed to keep busy when driving ? thought this was weird but it does get a bit removed from the driving experience with climate/cruise/auto & drove a manual the other day and thought it quite amusing wiggling a stick,balancing the clutch/throttle on hills & changing gear all the time.
but the engine response it soooooo much better. ;)
Kickdown you say. Autos have come a long way. I have had a 2.9 Scorpio Cosworth for the last 4 years. 210bhp. Kickdown is when your head is jammed back on the headrest like someone pulling you backwards.

Serious for cruisin' - serious for power. You can have the best of both worlds in an auto.
No, No....I am on my second auto (well tiptronic), and i love it, will never go back .... that is until the roads are clearer by 50%, all speed cameras are banned and traffic jams are a thing of the past.

The best thing about manual cars is that at least your left leg gets a bit of exercise (well a lot in Manchester). My journey into work involves a rather long and slow queue which takes 1 hour in and 1 hour back home. If i have to take my wife's manual car then i get into work all stressed and rather annoyed at the traffic.... but in mine.... not a flicker, not bothered at all, just relaxed and ready for the day.

All the other manual drivers around me, in ''our queue'' just seem to get more and more angry at being delayed..... for what ! it's just part of life in the 21st century and i see it just getting worse. Think sensibly... go auto.

NB. The most common statement i hear on how good a manual box is over an auto ...... '' It's not a drivers car'', ''It's not sporty enough''.

What ! With all the speed camera's, traffic lights, queue's, and general idiot drivers about how the hell do you manage to driver like Mr. Schumacher. We live in an over populated, polluted tiny little island, the sporting prowess of a car really belongs either on the track or around the hills of Italy.
To be honest, in your city drive you will probably save money in the long run with an auto. Think about it, every time you move forwards more than a couple of feet in a manual you are revving the engine to what, 2000rpm? Using more petrol and shortening the life of the clutch.

Do it in a traditional auto (not CVT, these are more like manuals in this situation), and you will probably just let it creep. Torque convertors don't really wear out as there are no contacting parts unless you are at steady driving speeds, which traffic jams are not.

You should still put it in neutral between crawls though, otherwise you are still putting a load on the engine and thus using fuel. And it will no doubt wear the brakes more quickly.

I love manuals but for 90% of my driving an auto would make life easier. However, my next car will be a sporty one and I don't think I could bear the thought that I was decreasing the 0-60 time by a whole second. :eek:
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