Do Automatic Cars Use More Fuel Than Manual?

Do automatic transmission

Many people ask if automatic cars consume more fuel than manual cars. This post will answer that question as well as provide you some critical information you need to know.

Manual transmission cars are slowly becoming a T-Rex technology in America. According to automotive information giant, Edmunds, only 2% of vehicles sold in the US in 2018 have a manual transmission. That’s terrifyingly low, compared to 47% in 2006.

When you’re looking for a car, either used or new, one of the factors you need to check is the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. It’s not a surprise to anybody that fuel accounts for one of the highest car maintenance costs. Thus, many car buyers become more conscious of how expensive it is to keep cars fueled all the time. Which begs the question: do automatc cars use more fuel than manual?

Automatic Cars DON’T Use More Fuel Over Manual Cars… All The Time

Since automatic transmission cars are evolving faster than the speed limit, fuel efficiency for automatics has also improved in time.

The belief that manual cars burn less fuel still remains true to a lot of people. They think that automatic vehicles quaff more gas because that’s the price you pay for the ease and comfort cars with automatic transmission provide. People think manual vehicles use less fuel than automatic cars because manuals have no “slop” in them. By slop, we mean that the torque converter wastes fuel when you put the car in gear and step your foot off the clutch.

But that isn’t the case anymore.

Although, we have to admit that older automatic transmission cars were not that gas-friendly back then. The design they had back in the day allowed the torque converter to slip, which wastes a lot of fuel. However, nowadays, the torque converters in automatic cars are developed to lock itself when the car runs very fast, so no fuel goes to waste.

This might be the case now, but people still find it less fuel-efficient, especially when driving around the city. Needless to say, car manufacturers have been looking for a way to help lessen fuel consumption for automatic transmissions year after year.

For example, automatic transmissions used to only have three to four speeds. Now, you can get automatic transmission vehicles with up to eight gears. That said, having more gears means there’s no need for the vehicle engine to revolve higher during each shift. That alone, it makes automatic cars more efficient than they already were.

Another great innovation created is that carmakers make the transmission so refined that it reduces clutch frictions. In addition, most automatic transmissions nowadays are controlled by electronic software. That way, there is much smoother integrations between transmissions, engines, and brake systems. All electronic parts are powered by electricity, which lessens the need to consume fuel. Thus, making automatic cars more efficient fuel-wise as compared to manual nowadays.


Based on the facts above, when you’re buying a used car, it’s better to go for a manual transmission if you’re going for a slightly older model. That would save you a lot of money for fuel. However, it is safe to go for a newer used automatic car for its fuel efficiency that is already upgraded.

The thing is, spending on gas is totally up to the driver. That’s why we will give you some tips on how to save up fuel with an automatic car.

Automatic Car Myths You Should Know About

When you hear someone say automatic cars use more fuel than manual, you would know that this is nothing but a myth. But that’s not just the myth you would hear about automatic cars. Below are some of the automatic car myths that we find too crucial to ignore.

automatic-cars-use-more-fuel-than-manual porsche 911

Myth 1 – Sports Car Are Only Cool If They Come In Manual

This is something that only purists would like to tell you. However, the definition of cool is subjective. Meaning, what one person thinks is “cool” may not be “cool” enough for you. For example, the Porsche 911 is rated as one of the most amazing sports cars for this year, and it can come as an automatic. Both Lamborghini and Ferrari decided to stop offering manual sports cars. It doesn’t get any cooler than that!

Myth 2 – Automatic Cars Are More Expensive Than Manuals

At times, manual transmission cars indeed cost less than their automatic counterparts, but this isn’t always the case. Some several models are more expensive when you buy it with a manual transmission. For example, we have the 2020 Kia Forte G, which is $600 more expensive when it comes with a stick-shift gear. Also, some BMW models, both automatic and manual gears, come at the same price. That means you’re not really saving a lot of cash from choosing a manual over an automatic.

Myth 3 – All Manual Cars Have An Automatic Option

This myth is not just false but also critical. If you want to buy vehicles such as the Hyundai Veloster N, the Subaru WRX STI, or the Honda Civic Type, you’re not getting an automatic option. The vehicles mentioned are only available with manual gears. That’s why it’s very critical to research first on your car of choice, especially if you have transmission preferences.

Myth 4 – Manual Stick Shifts Are Popular Among Teenagers

If this myth is true, then how come manual cars are declining in the past decade? Although there is a small percentage of people out there who prefer manuals over automatics, more and more people are going automatic, and that includes teenagers. Part of the reason is that few cars with a manual gearbox are left for sale.

Automatic Cars Use Less Fuel – Just Follow These Tips

As mentioned earlier, it’s up to the driver to use less fuel. Regardless if you’re driving automatic or manual, you will still consume more fuel when you’re too careless when using it. Below are some tips on how you can save up some fuel when you’re driving, so you won’t give that shocked face when you check on your vehicle maintenance expenses.

Don’t Go Braking Your Car

When you keep on placing your foot on the brake, it hurts your fuel economy. Putting your foot on the brake pedal, even in the slightest, can drag your car. In turn, it uses a lot of fuel. Not only will it consume a lot of gas, but it will also place a burden on your engine and transmission. Also, you will need to change your brakes often, as it deteriorates fast that way.

automatic-cars-use-more-fuel-than-manual don't drive when you're mad
Driving when mad can cause you to spend 33% of fuel more than usual.
Photo by ARENA Creative/Shutterstock

Keep Calm And Drive

Don’t drive when you’re mad. First of all, driving when you’re angry is dangerous. When you’re not focused on driving, because your mind is somewhere else, you have bigger chances of putting you and your passengers’ lives at risk. So keep calm when you’re driving. It also lessens fuel consumption by up to 30% on the highway and 5% when driving around town.

The Lesser The Trips The Better

This goes without saying. When you’re not driving too much, you could save a lot of money from gas. Also, when you park your car for a few hours – which you do when you have a lot of errands to run – your vehicle needs more fuel to warm up. It’s much more economical when you combine trips at one time. For example, you can do grocery shopping during the weekends after you’ve taking your kids to football practice.

Maintenance Is The Key

Automatic cars use more fuel than their manual counterparts, but only if they are not appropriately maintained. As car lovers know, maintenance keeps vehicles running like new and fuel economy will be stable when regularly checked. It may cost a few of your hard-earned dollars to maintain your car. Still, your investment will return by spending less on gas and keeping mechanical issues at bay.

So the next time you’re going to ask yourself if automatic cars use more fuel than manual cars, you now know the answer. It totally depends on the vehicle and driver; the way you drive your car makes the difference. If you’re looking for a used car to buy, be it manual or automatic, check out our inventory with different car brands by clicking on the link.

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