Manual or Automatic which to choose

Feb 15, 2006
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I am considering buying the kia sorento xe to pull my Bailey Padgent 5 series provence so i have plenty of power BUT i would like some comments on which transmission to choose.

Lets have your opinions and experiances

THANX
 
G

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Cannot comment on the Kia per se, but in most modern vehicles there is little difference between automatic and manual for making good towcars. it depends on your personal preference. Do you like to keep you hand on that big shiny knob in the middle, and aggressively pump your left foot up and down, or do you like to relax and let someone else do the work? You can burn a clutch out with incorrect use, it is far more difficult to damage modern auto boxes, they won't let you. Many drivers, me included, are 'converted' once they have used an auto, and never go back. Others cannot let go of the manual idea.
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Towed tens of thousands of miles with manuals and many more with auto's.

Smiled nicely to a thirty year caravanner who smoked out a ferry with his manuals clutch trying to get on the steep ramp alongside us. With a van 1/2 again bigger and with 5 adult sized on board + mountain bikes my 2litre auto had no probs. The guy and another who had similar problems cornered me in the ferry lounge, "how did you do that young". I had to reply "it wasn't me at was the auto box".

Having driven 1 in 3's in Cornwall, the lakes and Alps etc auto is the way to go.

Some experienced manual driver will tell you how it's never been a problem, yeah yeah yeah!

If you're the sort that would like a full frontal lobotomy for fun or surgery without aenesthetic go for manual ;-)

I you like life pain free, make the sensible choice :)
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Looks like a lot of you out there prefer auto boxes, not only prefer them but go as far as to deride those that like a manual. I feel it my duty to redress this point using language similar to that used by certain auto lovers (cris).

Go for the auto if you feel that you can no longer drive. If you like the feeling of not being in control, buy the auto. If you can't make up your mind what gear you should be in or how to depress a clutch, the auto is for you. If you like increased fuel bills along with slower acceleration, put your name to the auto. If you're not bothered with engine braking while descending steep hill you know what to do. If you want to pay at least a grand more just so you don't have to touch that little lever in the middle the choice is clear.

So lets recap, autos, they are slower more expensive to buy and run, have less control over the car, can sometimes overheat (forgot that one) and also cost huge amounts when they go wrong (about as often as a manual). So if you did indeed go for that frontal lobotomy, get the auto. All that drool means it's easier to select a gear than in a manual, you just won't have a choice which gear that will be.
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Actually you will find that many autos are as fast or faster than manuals, my own road car auto is 1.9 secs faster to 62mph than the manual and fuel consumption is the same.

Manuals consumption is more liable to fuel consumption difference due to driving style. Inteligent auto boxes alter change up and down times and at different rpm and speed depending on roads and driving style.

Having run a diesel auto alongside the same diesel manual towing large trailers, we had better fuel consumption from the heavier auto and much lower maintenance costs. Whilst towing fuel consumption of the auto was between 15 & 20% higher and used less oil. Auto sold with 180000+ miles on the clock with no problems. Manual sold at 130000+ on 3rd clutch and had used as many tyres as the auto on the drive wheels.

Results were with different drivers as well!

A friend with chaufer business had a fleet of people carriers with manual and auto box's, new fleet is all auto now as running costs are less by far overall.

At present we still have manual and auto, even old Steve are 66yo Caravanning vet loves the Auto with the trailer behind. After a trip to Italy and back, all we had for days was "why the F888 have I never bought an auto".

Have never had an auto overheat but have smelt and seen many burnt clutch's in recent years.

Where less control come in is a mystery, I tow van for pleasure and in my business with medium sized trailer and large flat bed car trailer and a race shuttle at times. The Auto's have shown no handling problems on all differentg roads and in mountains and we've even had auto out perform a manual on ice and snow on its winter ice setting towing!

Older auto's never had me feeling they were in control and many new auto's have a tiptronic unction like mine. I drive manual and auto's all the time.

If anything you have more control with an auto with both hands on the wheel than with a manual, and a foot (I've raced so left foot breaking is easier)for each pedal not two between three.

The auto will not miss a gear or select the wrong one if panic or crisis happens and you will not need to slip the clutch.

I spent years with the same ideas as Lol, my first auto soon cured me and did 240000 with no problems.

Things can go wrong, but the dealer will say if you need an extra cooler and that is likely to be the only extra cost with modern day auto apart from the box itself.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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So, what is being said is, like most things , drive what suits YOU.

There are arguments for and against everything, but at the end of the day, its your money, your decision, your life.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Cris, if you look under the heading of Towcars in this forum, you will see I have already mentioned auto's in a light similar to your own. The reason I contribute differently here was all down to your own sweeping generalisations. I know modern day autos are good, but you must admit some are still relics of a long lost age. I could stand by all my comments about manual boxes and give proof of what I say, much the same as you could. It does really depend on driving style for your fuel consumption although using the law of physics as it stands now, a manual has to be more fuel efficient with all other things equal. I have tried auto boxes before and I'm not a fan, lets be honest, have you never been on a slight incline while towing and sat there begging the box to change down, or the other way round where the box has been revving the con rods through the crank case, begging for it to change up? I dismissed the Hyundai Terracan just because I felt the auto was not up to the job.

Like I said, my input was only there to balance the arguments made for the auto, whichever Andrew chooses he will be happy with. He's bound to; the box is connected to a Sorento.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I may be unique here (steady now!!) in that my old tow truck started life as a manual Range Rover then I changed that gearbox to a 4 speed auto (only mentioned the number because us Land Rover anoraks know that LR first offered a 3 speed Chrysler Auto box the a later ZF 4 speed auto) due mainly to a knackered left knee after a riding accident.

So I have driven and towed with the same vehicle but with both types of gearbox.

Both did the job well with no real problems.

However what REALLY is impressive with an auto is the "creep" facility when parking the caravan.

After a long tiring journey this makes siting the van SO easy!

I also enjoy the relaxed driving an auto box gives you. And the manual facility where you can select to hold in 1st 2nd and 3rd to "mimic" a manual is great fun. So is roaring up a steep hill in third then "snicking" it into second with no loss of traction or drive!

OK OK! that's done it! - the weekend starts here - I just have to go for a drive now!
 
Aug 28, 2005
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Andrew,

There is very much a case of "Buyer beware" when you mention gearboxes and towing and whilst every car has excesses designed into it - i.e. putting a strain on the gear box of another 1 tonne plus of rolling resistance this can manifest it's self in very different ways.

Each car setup between engine/gearbox and other factors such suspension, drive-train will be different and you have to ask exactly the question that you have is car X better with manual or auto when towing ? being very model engine type even year specific.

I would hazard a guess that the real 4x4's such as Land Rovers and Landcruisers have more "load extremity" built in - something that soft-roaders may compromise for ride, comfort features and ultimately price.

Monkeys Husband
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Andrew,

Most of the arguments for and against auto/manual have been made.

Both autos & manuals can return good mpg, it depends on driving style - I once had to use a colleagues LR Disco (Diesel auto) for a business trip. When we got back he wondered if we had actually been because of how little fuel had been used. Fundamentally it depends on how hard you press the right foot. And despite cris's overtures, in general most autos do tend to use a little more fuel. (Look in any motor magazine with consumption figures)

It is generally accepted that the engine and transmission of autos are less stressed than manuals because the choice of engine speed and gear ratio is chosen precisely by the Engine Management Unit, rather than the fuzzy and imprecise Human Management Unit.

On the down side, for towing you may need to have a gearbox oil cooler fitted (depends on make and model of car)

Thankfully breakdowns are less common than they used to be, but auto boxes are definitely more expensive to repair, but on the plus side, there is no clutch plate to wear out, it may just need an oil change which is much easier than splitting an engine/gearbox for a plate change.

For what its worth, I have driven both manual and auto versions of the Jeep Cherokee. Perhaps not the most refined vehicle in the world, but in my view the auto is definitely the better choice because the manual clutch was very heavy.

If it is to be main daily transport, and you commute (stop starts) in heavy traffic you will probably bless an auto.

Hope this helps
 
Feb 9, 2006
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Different car, but I had a Frontera 3.2 Auto, which I got rid of PDQ

The problem was that at 60 mph on the motorway, it was hunting between 3rd & 4th gear (very irritating)

I know it was petrol & not diesel, but how can you find out on a test drive without your van behind?
 
Feb 9, 2006
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Different car, but I had a Frontera 3.2 Auto, which I got rid of PDQ

The problem was that at 60 mph on the motorway, it was hunting between 3rd & 4th gear (very irritating)

I know it was petrol & not diesel, but how can you find out on a test drive without your van behind?
 
Jul 12, 2005
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Very true Terry, the only thing that can be done is to ask members of the forum who may have experience with a particular car. I hope andrew got the information he needs to make a wise choice

Steve
 
Mar 14, 2005
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At last we have some well balanced views on manual/auto changes.

I think at the end of the day it comes down to a simple choice as manuals and autos are very close on cost, performance and drivability.

If you have difficulty controlling a manual, or if you really don't want the hassle of having to change gear, go for the auto.
 
Jul 12, 2005
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You are right LOL

My choice for suggesting the Auto is based on the fact I have bad legs and it is easier to drive an auto with this than a manual.

Mind you, mine is a manual and I have no plan to change it soon

Steve
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Lol

I realise you were playing devils advocate but my auto box has engine braking, I thought they all had these days.
I know they do Graham, but not to the extent and controllability of a manual. You or the road conditions can fool an auto box, which is why you hear so much about auto's hunting for gears. Also the design of the auto box can differ; I would be interested to hear what a CVT transmission is like for towing/engine braking.
 
Dec 16, 2003
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My comment re manuals was partly in fun due to the "old hands" manual expertise comments!

Jus a little wind up ;-)

I've a keen driver friend who "saves" fuel with his manual yet half the time is sat in 4th instead of 5th gear as he needs quicker response in todays traffic conditions and then on Saturday he pays
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I wouldnt force my opinion on anybody because I went through the same scenario of asking people about auto's and like this forum they said " once you've tried it you wont go back to manual" well, surprise surprise, Ive tried it and went back to manual. I changed to auto and wasnt happy being dictated to by a system that changed gear when it wants and not when I want, and before anybody says something must be wrong with it, it was new. When you drive the same roads everyday and jump into another motor and it behaves nothing like your previous one, speed, acceleration, fuel consumption, rpm, you know you've made a mistake. OK, taking off at junctions, driving with one hand fine, if that is your thing go for it, I did, but then I found out other things mentioned earlier, and decided which I would rather have.
 
Dec 16, 2003
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When I change a vehicle it normaly means going to a more modern updated spec.

If it did things the same as the previous one I'd want my money back, and I drive the same roads a lot of the time. I did just over 500 miles yesterday and one handed driving was not part of the scenario.

I mainly drive diesel auto's and I drive loads of manuals. My own auto's are both different box's with different features and both are designed like all the others for driver input.

It's easy to get in an auto and boot it and send fuel consumption a bit crazy, but then again I could do that with a manual. You change and adapt, I don't drive my wifes Lotus the same as I drive my diesel Auto's or any other car.

There is personal choice and with tens of thousand of miles to drive between now and October I know which is better in my book.

We'll haul gear around europe at all hours of the day and night and customers will expect us on a job working on time and to schedule. The auto's will deliver and do the biz!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Cris, It seems you cant take anothers opinion without disecting it, instead of accepting that not everyone is of the same train of thought as you. So to inform you of the particulars, my CHOICE of motors were, Shogun manual 3.2- great drive decided after a couple of years to change for Shogun auto 3.2 in MY opinion not as good as previous car, so decided to revert back to manual, again MY CHOICE. Also having had a licence for thirty years I am long past the heavy pedal driving style you assume I used to decrease mpg and increase the rpm. I work in the transport industry and you must be the first person I have come across that uses auto's for business. Unlike you I dont force my opinions, which you seem to do at an alarming rate,and also unlike you, not all my eggs are double yokers . I bet you even have the t-shirt, what a boost for this forum yeah !
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Geordie.

Why so defensive? I've not accused you of any type of driving if you read carefuly! I was pointing out that you(anyone that is) can soon play silly with an Auto, ease of use can have "some" burning a bit of fuel!

Andrew asked about an Auto for towing his van, a liesure persuit! My respons was linked with a little humour for those old hands that have an opinion on auto's from older times and generally based on no experience.

My licenses are 37 years old nearly and in the past twenty years I have worked in the Automotive and Transport business in a unique field. My towing is partly pleasure but mainly business. Using trailers around the UK and Europe, due to our market place, we offer quick response into "select" environments at all hours of the day and night. We get in, blend in with the client and their clients quite often and get out! We have to be smart and fresh and highly efficient. Safety is a big factor, time and distance are also big factors. Driving comfort and efficiency play a big roll as arriving after very long drives we then have to open the doors and work.

I could use vans, but they do not give the comfort we find we need.

I'm not forcing anything on anyone, this is cyber space man. You suck it and see!! As they say.

My experience of your car is of using the auto brand new on hire last year to tow a flat bed carrying a van. I did over 1200 miles and the car was superb. Compared to the older style manual shogun one of my guys uses it was a great tow car.

A lot of businesses look at purchases re the straight cost. Getting our jobs done is different to most others working practices, that's why others can't cope or compete in our market place.

We have found that one thing off sets another with the Auto's as my friends Chauffer business has.

Like I said a guy I know drives his 5 speed manual in 4 when he could be in 5 more, and pays a tenner a week to clean it, his so called economy out the window.

You pays your money etc. Auto's have changed, and if we can run them in business well and see other savings, hopefully others can see that they can/may work for them.

Surely in "Transport" many trucks and buses have semi auto features like pre select and multi gear systems.

The guys I know would not want crash box's and 3 or 4 gears.

Most vanners I know who have moved to auto are not like you and are very very happy to pay for an auto for limited van use.

This is a web site, it doesn't have to be taken to seriously when others state a different view and give valid reason. Surely we are all grown up enough to go away and formulate our own opinions before assuming that comment was pesonal attack on anothers valid ways and experience.
 

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