Which Costs More: Automatic Car Repairs Or Manual Car Repairs?

Updated November, 2020
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Automatic car transmissions are more complex and tend to cost more to repair than manual cars. Their many components and unique parts can make repairs more time-consuming and intensive. This increases labor cost, parts necessary for completion, and ultimately, the repair bill.

The difference between automatic and manual cars

The main difference between these two models is that a manual transmission requires you to do more work when you're actually driving. A manual transmission requires you to physically shift the vehicle into different gears while driving. An automatic transmission does the job for you, changing gears as you drive.

Which type of car is the most expensive to repair?

Automatic cars are generally more expensive to repair. This is because automatic transmissions are typically more complex, requiring more time, knowledge, and parts.

Common repairs on automatic cars

  • Oil change. A general oil change is one of the most common repairs, usually done every six months or every 3,000-6,000 miles.
  • Wiper blades replacement. Because of how much they're used, your wiper blades need to be changed relatively often.
  • Air filter replacement. Your air filter should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, and even more often in dustier conditions. This keeps the air that circulates through your vehicle clean, clear, and healthy.
  • Tire replacement. Tires need replacing due to various circumstances, such as if you experience a flat, or they've just run their lifespan. The cost changes based on the brand you choose and how many you need.
  • Battery replacement. Dead batteries are prevalent. This essentially means your battery level is too critical to turn over your engine, and it's time to replace it. The cost depends on your car, labor costs, and availability of parts.
  • Brake replacement. A slew of brake issues are known to bring car owners into garages. Still, full replacements are typically the number one cause. This can mean you need a whole brake replacement or just certain parts (i.e., the brake pad.)

Common repairs on manual cars

  • Clutch slips. If a clutch slips, the engine will rev, but the car doesn’t move as it should or sometimes doesn't move at all. It's a sign that the clutch could need to be replaced.
  • Trouble getting into gear. Trouble shifting gears could be a sign that an internal or external transmission part is worn/damaged. It's another indication that the clutch needs replacement, and someone needs to look under the hood.
  • Clutch sticks. If this happens, it means the clutch master or slave cylinder has an external seal leakage that needs replacing. This could be anywhere between $100-$300.
  • Not changing fluid/leaks. Like an automatic, you have to change the fluids in your manual. Fluid changes should happen around 45,000 to 60,000 miles. The cost is about $150.

Does my insurance pay for repairs on automatic transmissions?

This depends on various factors, including whether your automatic transmission was damaged as a result of an accident, or whether it's simply given out over time. Here are some things to consider:

  • Suppose your transmission is damaged due to an accident where you're not at fault. In that case, the at-fault driver's insurance should pay for repairs or replacement.
  • If the transmission was damaged due to outside circumstances such as vandalism, theft, fire, etc, and you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance should pay your claim.

Keep in mind that you could also be responsible for paying a deductible. Transmission repairs are some of the most costly repairs a car can need, and on top of your deductible, it can be a hefty bill. If your vehicle's overall cash value is less than the cost of a transmission repair or replacement (plus your deductible), it's probably best to sell the car and consider getting a new vehicle.

When the time arises, is my insurance going to be enough?

When it comes to car insurance, there are several factors to consider beyond monthly cost. A policy that covers you when you need it, has a low deductible, and offers several discounts can be hard to find - which is why we've done the work for you.

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