FROM GLORY DAYS TO OBSOLETE -MANUAL TRANSMISSION

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For those who come from the generation of baby boomers, generation X, and generation Y they were driving the car with the transmission that maybe will see the end of the day in the future manual transmission. Most of the car during this time had been equipped with a manual transmission before the automatics transmission had taken over its place starting from the Generation Z. Although some of the Generation Y may have used the automatic transmission but during the generation Z time the automatic transmission had taken over completely and the manual transmission maybe will be a nostalgic thing of the past for this group of generations. Although some of the cars currently still using manual transmission like the 2016 BMW M5, 2016 Volkswagen Golf R, 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby, 2016 Porches Cayman GT4 and much more.

The manual transmission can also be known as a manual gearbox, stick shift, standard MT and a stick. In the beginning, the manual transmission will be 2 speed in the past and 5 or 4 speed in the normal car during his heyday. For the higher end car that emphasis on performance, they can be a 6-speed manual transmission.  Unlike the automatic transmission, the manual gear had 2 of the main component and they are driver operated clutch pad and a movable gear stick or gear knob that also called as sequential manual transmission.

 

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A typical manual transmission gear knob with the gear sequence in the top of the gear knob

 

The manual transmission had been invented by Joe Clow and Emile Levassor a French engineer and one of the pioneers in the automobile industries. Basically, they are 2 type of manual transmission called as nonsynchronous transmission and synchronous transmission. Nonsynchronous basically required a manual synchronizing of the transmission and fortunately, it is only widely used in the motorsport and in the heavy vehicle and not in the normal passenger car.

 

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Emile Lavasor

The synchronous transmission is a different setting altogether. As per the name, it equalizes its speed with that of the next gear to be engaged, allowing a smooth, crunch-free selection and this is the transmission that widely used in the passenger car to ensure a smooth shifting of the gear while driving the car.

As mentioned previously one of the most important components in the manual transmission is the driver controlled clutch pad that usually will be located on the left-hand side of the driver’s foot along with the brake pad in the centre and the accelerator pedal on the right compared to just 2 the brakes and accelerator in the automatic transmission. How does the clutch help to ensure a smooth shifting of the gear? In the manual transmission, the clutch acts a separator from the engine and transmission. When the clutch is pressed accordingly no torque will be transferred from the engine to the transmission and this will make it possible to change the gear without stalling the engine. When the clutch is released, the engine torque is fully transferred and the car will accelerate and decelerated according to the gear numbers. A quite remarkable piece of engineering design and all this happen in an instance while we are driving the car with manual transmission.

 

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The foot position where the clutch is on the left, brake in the center and accelerator in right

 

During the heyday of the manual transmission, they had some distinct advantage if compared to the automatic transmission. The manual transmission due to nature of the design that does not use the hydraulic pump, unlike the automatic transmission it provides a great fuel economy although it depends on the driving skills and the right time to shift the gear.

Since the manual transmission design is simple and easily manufactured, it required less maintenance and cheaper to repair compared to the automatic transmission. Even to change the gear oil manual transmission required fewer liters of gear oil.

The manual transmission also proved a sensational feel of an exhilarating ride. Some of us who had used the manual transmission loves the process of the pressing clutch, shifting the gear and repeating the process again while driving in a high-speed situation like driving on the highway. The manual transmission provides this feeling and make the ride more emotional and makes the drives more attached to the car.

The best part of the all, if the car battery cell had died up in the automatic transmission it needs to be jumped start but in the manual transmission, this problem can be resolved with the push start and whereby pushing the car and shifting the gear the car can be started back again without the need of the jumper cable.

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But for all the advantages they are some disadvantages that cause many of the car lovers to shift to an automatic transmission. Compared to automatic transmission where the drivers need to shift the gear to D to drive where in the manual transmission they are some learning curve as the driver needs to learn how to shift the gear sequentially and also the learn how to press and disengaged the clutch in the right time. If the clutch is not fully pressed then car engine will stall or the gear will not shift. This can also lead to damage in the transmission part. It will take some time for the drivers to make driving the manual transmission a second nature to them.

Since the shifting speed of the manual transmission is controlled manually by the driver, it lacks the quick shifting of the current automatic transmission where most of the automatic transmission gear shifting is computerized by the PCM and this also made manual transmission quickly become an unpopular choice.

Although the manual transmission does provide an exhilarating feel during driving at a high speed, the need to press and disengaged the clutch and constant shifting can be annoying and tiresome especially when the driver stuck in traffic jam and this can lead to fatigue on the drivers’ part and thing will be worst if the drivers had injury to the leg and ankle and if the drivers is too weak to drive.

The automatic transmission with the ease of use, the simplicity of the usage for all, and computerized gear shifting, it quickly had become the choice for the car manufacturer and the car lovers. With the continuous innovation and improvement by the gear manufacturer like ZF, BorgWarner, Aisin, and much more the automatic transmission are far better and more comfortable than the manual transmission and in the end, it had led to the slow demise of the manual transmission.

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