Fun Fact: Manual vs Automatic. Which transmission is better on fuel economy and why?

Ever wondered if manual transmission provides better fuel consumption than automatic transmission? Many of us research numbers as part of our decision making before purchasing a car. What we might not realize is that the EPA’s number reports are an estimate based on the manufacturer’s testing.

We’ve read a few stories on “calculations error” from manufacturers and such, which provided false numbers. In the “real-world” testing, the numbers are closer for the everyday driver. Especially when it comes to the city and mixed driving numbers. Weirdly enough, the highway numbers are generally correct.

There are two (2) main elements that provide us more insights as for which transmission is better. One of them being the number of gears that a vehicle has and the second one being the lock up torque converter.

1- Number of gears

Commonly, automatic transmissions have between six (6) to nine (9) gears forward speed. We wouldn’t be surprised if the new norm will be up to eleven (11) speed automatics due to the international “gear race”. CTVs is one to also keep in mind, which stand for “continuously variable automatic transmission”. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, CTVs essentially use pulleys to continually adjust the gear ratio. Which in return, theoretically speaking, gives them an infinite number of gears. Due to the vast number of gears available, CTVs make it easier to find the most effective one and in return improves the mileage consumption of the vehicle. The fuel economy isn’t as effective for vehicle that don’t have as many gear options.

2- Lock up torque converter

A reason why manually transmission use to get better mileage, is the fact that you could put the vehicle in the gear and take the foot off the clutch. By doing so, the car is locked, that’s why a manual vehicle stalls when doing a complete stop.

Automatic transmission use a viscous fluid coupling, which prevents the engine from stalling. As nice as it is for a car not to stall, the fluid coupling came with a price, it harmed the mileage at higher speeds. The good news is, the lock up torque converter is solved by allowing automatic transmission to “lock” into gear at higher speeds. Which makes automatic transmission comparable to a manual transmission.

In conclusion, automatic transmission is a better choice for fuel economy. We always suggest doing more research when finding a car that you like, especially when it comes to numbers. Looking at drivers that are doing “real-world” testings will be the most realistic reports for the everyday driver. Not to take away from how fun manual transmissions are to drive, because they are! But they aren’t for everyone, and most buyers that gravitate towards manual, is because they are fun to drive. And there are a lot of people that manual vehicles are their nightmare coming true. So it’s all about personal preference and what makes you a safe driver on the road.

We hope you enjoyed this article and stay tuned for more fun car facts!

The Centre for All Your Car Needs

Peter’s Auto is the centre for all your car needs with over 20 years of experience in repairing a variety of cars along with up to date mechanics and equipment. Our knowledgeable and helpful staff will take care of all your auto service and repair needs.

Our shop is located in Kitchener, ON. We proudly serve the following areas: Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph.

Click Here to Schedule an Appointment for your next service or repair today! You can also contact us by phone at (519) 578-4533 or email:

The 4HP Car

Excellent Care

If you are looking for service, care, advise, smiles, honesty, friendly environment and that personal touch then take all your car needs to Peter. We bought a car last fall and the service was exceptional. Now we take all our car repairs to Peter and his team. I don’t cringe every time the car needs repairs, I know I can trust the gang. thanks Fiona

Fiona Apperson

5.0 out of 5.0 stars5.0

Always great service

In my opinion Peter deserves more than 5 stars. I’m his customer for 16 years now and every and each time I go there, he impresses me in different positive ways. He has patience to listen and explain everything to his customers and he treats people with lots of kindness and respect. I was asking myself many times how can he be so kind to everyone when others are not ? Simple: kindness is the word to describe Peter. Beside that, he is honest, very well trained and skilled in what he is doing. I wish all the business men to be the same as he is!


5.0 out of 5.0 stars5.0

Mercedes Power Steering Pump Leak

Have never wanted to leave feed back for any business until I dealt with Peter!! When you have what’s viewed as a prestige car, Mercedes, most garages wont touch it, or will take advantage., gouge you financially. Peter is a straight forward, honest guy to deal with, that will answer everything you ask. The way it should be. All praise


5.0 out of 5.0 stars5.0

Read More Reviews