Chances are good that if you were born some time after George Bush (the first one) took office, you don’t know how to drive a manual transmission car, simply because you’ve never had to. But driving stick isn’t as hard as you might think—and it can save you a lot of cash.
How? Because manual transmission cars are often considerably cheaper than their automatic-transmission brethren when new (often by as much as $1,000 or more), and because many people (of all ages, really) just don’t know how to drive manuals, their resale value can be substantially less, too, as The Car Connection points out. After all, fewer than 10% of cars are sold with manual transmissions in the first place.
That means you’ll have more money to spend on upgrading other aspects of your car’s equipment, including adding things like modern head units with smartphone support, or even smart connected-car systems that rival the best offered in today’s new cars.
Not only will you save money and end up with more to spend on upgrading your new ride, you’ll probably save money on maintenance and repair costs, as manual transmissions are generally much more durable than their automatic counterparts, and when repairs are necessary, they’re typically cheaper to fix, too.
While modern automatic transmissions have closed the gap to manuals, if you’re in the market for a used car, especially one that’s more than three or four years old, chances are great that the manual version of any car you choose gets better gas mileage—and often by more than just 1 or 2 mpg. That means you save money every single day—money that can be spent on things like not eating ramen every night.
Another benefit to driving a manual transmission car is the fact that most other people can’t drive one: that includes both your mooching friends and thieves. If they can’t drive it, they won’t try to—saving you the headache of saying no (or worse, constantly loaning your car out) and the headache of filing a police report.
One final benefit is that you’ll have gained a new and practical skill, one that sets you apart from your peers, and one that ties you in to a wide swath of automotive history. The satisfaction of knowing you’re more skilled than 90% of the other drivers on the road? That’s priceless.
So grab a parent, a friend, or a local driving school and go practice in a parking lot until you’ve got the basics—the rest comes with practice—and save yourself a bundle by buying a manual.
automotive freelance journalist