OPINION | Keep to the right - soon your left leg will no longer be needed in daily driving

"You put your left leg in, you pull your left leg out, you put your left leg in and you shake it all about..."

That is sort of how the nursery rhyme goes - so why is there a pre-school song as the first line of this article? Well, it is something motorists driving automatic transmissions will have to do to keep their left leg from falling asleep since they won't be using it at all when driving.

Most cars on the road still employ manual transmissions, but the majority of new vehicle buyers prefer to have the car do all the gear-changing, even if it means paying that little extra.

Making everything easier

Just about every manufacturer locally offers automatic options in their range while there are others that no longer make use of 'stick shift' at all. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are some of the few that come to mind.

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These days everything works seamlessly; you can tell a car what to do, let the seats massage you while you drive, and some even park themselves.

Front cabins look the part as well with interactive touchscreens, and a whole host of technological gadgets. In those type of cars, a manual gear lever just looks completely out of place and dare I say almost outdated.


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The crux of the matter is that driving a car with an automatic transmission makes driving so much simpler. There's no having to do clutch control on an incline or tugging at a gear lever while you're stuck in traffic.

Yes, the fuel spend per month will be a bit higher than usual but that is the only real drawback with automatic models, and it's not always the case.

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Automatic gearboxes rarely give owners issues but in the event that something does go wrong, it can be pricey to have one replaced if it is not covered under some mechanical warranty.

An article published on Wheels24 last year showed that an automatic gearbox replacement can cost anywhere between R70 000 to R350 000 depending on the make of vehicle or model.

Weighing up

Manual purists will argue that an engine will never reach it's potential with an auto, but that scenario is angled more at performance cars like a Honda Civic Type R or Ford Mustang Bullitt, for example, where power is accrued closer to the rev limiter.

Of course, not everyone has a penchant for speed and simply want to improve their own driving experiences. The compact SUV segment is becoming a popular avenue for automatics.

automatic gear lever

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Whether it is a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) popular on a Volkswagen or Porsche's PDK dual-clutch transmission, some automakers have its own fancy name to distinguish the specific brand

For people who drive daily it can take a physical toll so just having the car choose the gears and not having to do the clutch-accelerator action makes it less of a burden.

Just like the coming of the electric car in the future, soon just about every car on the road will only have two pedals. So enjoy the manual's while they are still around.

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