Manual or automatic driving lessons?

So you’re at the stage where you’re thinking about learning to drive. There are so many things to think about:

  • Can I afford this?
  • Which driving school should I choose?
  • How many lessons will I need in order to pass my driving test?
  • Should I choose manual or automatic driving lessons?

In fact, this is one of the most popular questions we get asked on a daily basis:

Which one’s easier, manual or automatic?

The truth is, it’s impossible to answer that question because it all depends on you and what you’d prefer.

The vast majority of people still prefer to drive manual cars and this is the likely effect of generations of people having learnt and owned manual cars themselves. Once the initial hurdles have been overcome, the gears aren’t a problem for most people and using the clutch becomes second nature. However, not everybody copes as well with using gears manually – and that’s absolutely fine! That’s why we have automatic driving lessons.

But it doesn’t necessarily make things any easier. Let us explain 👇

automatic driving lessons in Reading

The driving test is exactly the same for manual and automatic

Whichever transmission you choose to learn in, the marking criteria for your driving test will be exactly the same. You’ll still need to learn and perfect the same routines and demonstrate safe driving to your examiner over 40 minutes. Despite learning without manual gears, you’ll still need to be able to:

  • Pass an eyesight check
  • Demonstrate and answer appropriately to the ‘show me, tell me’ questions
  • Make no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called minors)
  • Make no serious faults

So while you may personally find it easier to learn to drive in an automatic vehicle, it’s important that you know the examiner will still assess you in the same way as a manual learner.

It’s also very important to note that if you pass your driving test in an automatic vehicle, you’ll only be licenced to drive an automatic car on your own. In contrast, a manual driving licence allows you to drive manual or automatic. You can go on and take a manual driving test in the future if you want to.

The case for choosing automatic driving lessons:

Let’s get into some of the reasons why you might decide to learn in an automatic car.

Not confident with manual

Some people are simply not confident with learning with gears and a clutch – and again, that’s absolutely fine – it’s exactly why automatic driving lessons exist. Everybody is different and learns in their own way.

Perhaps you’ve already tried manual driving lessons before and not got along with the car. Maybe you had a bad experience with hill starts or clutch control that’s knocked your confidence. Whatever your reasoning, automatic can solve many of your confidence issues when learning to drive.

A disability/impairment

For many people with disabilities, clutch work or using the gear stick just isn’t feasible and for these people, automatic is definitely the best option.

In fact, cars can be specially modified in so many different ways to make driving (and learning to drive) more accessible than ever. There are some driving schools who specialise in teaching pupils with certain disabilities and have specific qualifications and resources to aid learning.

International pupils

Pupils coming or originating from other countries may find learning in an automatic vehicle more natural.

Countries like USA, Canada, Japan and China are all dominated by automatic cars, so people coming from these countries may favour automatic driving lessons.

foreign driving lesson pupils

Or maybe you just like the idea of driving an automatic car!

You might already have access to an automatic car, or just think automatic is the way forward! New automatic cars now outsell the equivalent in manual in the UK – the landscape is certainly changing!

And this shift is perhaps a precursor to a bigger change that will be enforced on the motor industry over the next 10-15 years, the move away from fossil fuel-powered cars.

Electric vehicles (EVs)

Whether we’re ready for it or not, the truth is that we’re moving into the era of electric vehicles. The UK government’s pledge to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 means that we’re going to be seeing a lot more EVs on the roads in the not-so-distant future.

As electric vehicles work completely differently to conventional combustion engines, they don’t feature a multi-speed gearbox and therefore don’t require a clutch or gearstick. In fact, EVs only have one gear and they’re typically able to achieve up to 20,000 rpm (revs per minute), compared to the petrol and diesel equivalent (around 4-6,000 rpm).

EVs and the prospect of cutting carbon emission on our roads is exciting, but the transition will be met with many hurdles. Historically, battery performance and reliability have been issues with EVs as well as high costs, but the technology is developing at an astonishing rate and electric cars are becoming more advanced and affordable every single day.

With EVs beginning to take over the domestic travel landscape, there’s never been a better time to embrace the future and learn to drive automatic. Some driving schools even specialise with learning in an electric vehicle.

electric cars

Manual vs automatic

It’s difficult to make an argument between manual and automatic as everybody has their own preference of what they would like to drive.

It’s true that most people still favour learning in a manual car, indeed manual still massively outweighs automatic in terms of popularity. But it’s impossible not to notice the growing trend of pupils opting for automatic for all of the above reasons.

So can I take automatic driving lessons with 1st 4 Driving?

Here’s the best part – yes you can!

We’re currently covering the following areas for automatic driving lessons:

We’re always looking to cover more areas for automatic driving lessons, and automatic is becoming a growing trend among pupils as we move through the 21st Century.

So it really is your choice whether to learn manual or automatic. You may be hampered by availability – far more driving instructors still teach manual, but there are still plenty of schools out there offering automatic driving lessons.

Click here to book driving lessons online

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