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  • 10 Advantages of Manuals: Letters to the Editors

10 Advantages of Manuals: Letters to the Editors


Jan 23, 2016
Photographers: Readers
Practice Makes Perfect
You, miss, are the only decent writer at this magazine (no offense to your fellow employees). I just read your article on manual transmissions, and it was spot on. I appreciate you. I am the proud owner of a ’90 W250 (Beast), and my daily driver is an ’01 Ford F-350 Double Cab 4x4 (Big Lebowski). Both are automatic, but my favorite truck was my ’01 Dodge dualie 4x4 (DD) with the ZF6 manual. Anyway, I talked my girlfriend into getting an ’07 Tacoma 4x4 with the five-speed in it, and I taught her to drive a manual out here (we live on the northern California coast). It was hell, and she threatened to sell it every week, but she finally got it and loves it. She named it Azulito. Please write more articles, and I will vote for you for president. I look forward to teaching my six-year-old son to drive a stick but am also a little scared.
C. Cooper
Via email
Thanks for the kind words. I must admit that while I want reader feedback, I find myself apprehensively opening letters, as many are not as positive as yours. I’ll be sure to print this one and take it with me to my review so my boss can read the opening sentence out loud to me. Your vehicles of choice get our stamps of approval, and good for you for talkin’ your girlfriend into a manual truck. We actually have a manual Nissan Frontier that we’re doing some long-term testing on, and it’s an absolute blast to drive. What you said is key—it takes practice to become comfortable behind the wheel of a manual. Many people may try it once or twice, become discouraged, and give up, not understanding that it may take years. We’re generally not good at sticking with things that make us feel uncomfortable. But with time, patience, and repetition come the reward of “second-nature” comfort. As for teaching your son—every time he’s in a manual vehicle, he’ll be learning the concept of how a manual transmission works, and that’s half the battle! By the time he gets behind the wheel, he’ll know what to do, even though he’s never actually done it.
Photo 2/3   |   1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Driver Side
Ten Advantages of Manuals
I could not agree more with your analysis entitled “Let Me Do It” in the December issue of Work Truck Review. In fact, I have four vehicles—two of which are pickup trucks—and all of them have manual transmissions. Your article is exactly what is needed, but the best “article” is for truck aficionados not only to say they like manuals, but actually to buy them. I, too, fear the day when manual transmissions may no longer be available for new vehicles. But that always leaves us, and your daughter, to buy good, quality pre-owned ones, like my ’96 Dodge Ram 1500 with 185,000 miles on it, doesn't it? You have touched on some advantages of manual transmissions, but here is perhaps a more complete list from my 53 years of driving experience.
1) More robust, durable, and longer-lasting.
2) Less expensive to buy.
3) Superior driver involvement: A truck with an automatic typically offers 40 percent less opportunity for driver involvement than one with a manual. 1) Number of driving inputs with typical manual vehicle = 5 (steering, gas, brake, clutch, shift); 2) Number of driving inputs with typical auto vehicle = 3 (steering, gas, brake); Deficit = 2. Therefore, the percent that an automatic transmission vehicle is less involving = 2/5 = 40 percent.
4) Owner-doable oil change, which is also less frequent and less expensive.
5) Requires no separate cooling system with its own radiator.
6) Wear item is an easily replaceable clutch (not the whole tranny!).
7) Superior traction in slippery snow, by “feathering” the clutch.
8) Almost airtight theft protection.
9) Less opportunity for distracted driving (from cell phones and such), which is therefore safer.
10) For trucks, typically better fuel economy with similar gear ratios and same number of forward gears.
B. Kressner
Appleton, Wisconsin
Via email
Thanks for picking up a copy on the newsstand, since subscriptions are not available! You’re absolutely right—we’ve got to keep buying manuals, or else manufacturers will quit makin’ ’em! I wonder what the demand in the future will look like for the trucks we drive today. What will be the cool truck for kids to own? Will they call them classics? It’s kind of crazy to think about. Anyway, thanks for listing 10 great reasons why manuals rock.
Photo 3/3   |   1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Front Driver
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