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Why you should know how to drive a manual car

20 July 2022


While 97 percent of cars currently on Aussie roads are automatic, there’s still some great reason to drive a manual.

Why learn to drive a manual car?

It’s official. Aussies prefer to drive automatic cars, with a whopping 97 percent of cars sold in Australia having automatic transmissions. What was once a rite of passage for any young learner driver – kangaroo-hopping along a leafy suburban street while a parent sat terrified in the passenger seat – has gone the way of the stick shift itself. It’s not really a thing anymore.

Then why bother learning to drive a manual car? Here's five great reasons. 

Manual cars are more common overseas

As the world opens up after the pandemic, many people are daydreaming of travelling once again. But if you’re planning on driving around Europe, you’ll need to know how to drive a manual because more than 80 percent of cars sold in Europe[i] are manual. You might get lucky and find an automatic car for hire, but they’re likely to cost you more. After all, those steep hills and winding roads demand a vehicle you have more control over.

Better control 

Speaking of having better control – a manual gearbox means you control what gear the car is in. This is useful if you drive in tricky conditions, such as in snow or around steep hills. However, it must be said, cars with CVT (continuously variable transmission) are certainly giving manual cars a run for their money, offering the best of both worlds.

Cheaper to run and service

Manual transmissions aren’t as complicated as automatic transmissions, making them easier and cheaper to run and maintain. They’re also more fuel efficient, so you keep more money in your wallet. If you’re a new driver looking for a second hand car, you’re downsizing or wanting to save on fuel, knowing how to drive a manual car means you can look at any car for sale. 

You can drive any type of car

While rules differ from state to state in Australia for learner drivers and P-platers, once you have your full unrestricted licence, you can drive either an automatic or a manual (unless you have a specific licence condition imposed on your licence). 

It’s a handy skill to have

Many people have a skill they don’t often use but is nonetheless handy to have. Like sewing on a button, changing a tyre – or driving a manual car. While it’s true learning to drive with a clutch takes time and patience, it’s worth it. Especially if you plan to drive around Europe. 

Five top tips for driving a manual car


Control the clutch

You can damage your car’s transmission if you don’t fully engage the clutch when changing gears. Learn to use it smoothly by understanding your car. When you’re easing off the clutch pedal, your car will have a ‘biting point’. This is the exact moment when the gears engage. As each car has a slightly different biting point, once you get to know your car, you’ll feel it and be able to switch gears effortlessly. 

Clutch in

Before you even start your engine, you need to engage the clutch. Once you’ve conquered the art of driving a manual, this will become second nature. But when you’re first learning, forgetting to push in the clutch pedal before turning on the ignition is one of the main reasons your car won’t start.

The hill start

First of all, it’s not scary! But it does take practise and skill to get the hang of a hill start in a manual car. Look around and take note of other cars, especially the car behind you. If you’re facing up the hill slope, you’ll roll back a little when you engage the gears – though the rolling always seems more than what it is! Most importantly, don’t be afraid to use the handbrake until you reach your car’s biting point and the car starts to edge forward.

Don’t ‘ride the clutch’

Riding the clutch means keeping your foot on the clutch while you drive. This is a big no-no and will wear out the clutch faster. It’s easy for this to become a bad driving habit, but it really doesn’t take much effort to move your foot on and off the clutch as you drive. 

Make sure you’re correctly insured

Whatever car you’re driving, you’ll want to ensure you and others on the road are covered in case the unexpected happens. The great news is, getting a quote for a new Suncorp Comprehensive Car Insurance policy is quick and easy.  


[i] Why Does Europe Prefer Manual Cars Over Automatic Ones?

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.

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