Should you buy a used automatic car?

For some, buying new was never an option. When you buy used, the car has already depreciated considerably, and especially so if you are buying a 5+-year-old car. Cars tend to lose value at staggering speeds, and it sometimes seems that buying a new car outright is not a good decision financially.

But there are benefits to buying new as lots of dealers often offer discounted prices, service packs, warranties, and additional equipment. Moreover, you are also able to finance your car in ways that do take depreciation into account.

That being said, between the two, I always opt for buying used, and the reason is fairly simple. You just get more for your money. It takes some time and hassle to find an appropriate car and to completely inspect it, but if you do, the value is unmistakable.

As far as automatics go, there really ain’t all that much difference these days. Only if you are buying an older used car you might want to avoid automatics as they weren’t as good as they are these days. Otherwise, it’s more or less the same story.

Benefits of automatics

Before buying an automatic transmission, you need to get to grips with all the specifics of each transmission option. Automatics tend to be a bit cheaper when buying used as they can be a bit more expensive to maintain down the line.

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Automatics are more convenient, quieter, and more relaxing to drive. Automatics can be configured in many different ways to maximize comfort or sportiness and response times. When you do engage comfort, the transmission becomes smooth yet it shifts slower.

If you do engage dedicated dynamic modes, or you just stomp the accelerator, the gearbox becomes a lot more responsive and it offers you shift times that can not be matched by a manual gearbox. Furthermore, automatics are also considerably quieter as they often tend to offer more gears to maximize efficiency.

In stop-and-go traffic, automatics are way easier to live with, and virtually all city driving environments are better suited for an automatic gearbox. Moreover, the entire car industry is slowly moving towards automatics, and in a few years or so, automatics might even become the new norm in all countries.

 Drawbacks of automatics

But automatics ain’t perfect, and there loads of questionable aspects worth considering. One of which is reliability. Really old automatic gearboxes are not all that robust and after the car accumulates decent mileage, these do tend to break more often than manuals do.

In addition to that, automatics are also heavier and less efficient. So if you value lightweight sports cars for example, a modern dan double-clutch transmission can drastically increase the weight of the car and mess up the car’s balance.

Besides, if you value efficiency, automatics are still not comparable to manuals, and the fuel consumption is different enough that it may sway you one way or the other. There are different types of automatics out there, and only the torque converters/dual clutches in the last 10-15 are good enough to be recommended.

  How old of a used car should I buy?

If you are looking at a dual-clutch gearbox, the car in question is likely to be a newer one, and double-clutch gearboxes are indeed more sophisticated and more reliable when compared to older automatics or automated manual transmissions.

You and reality

But the most important question is what do you want? Older automatics do indeed need more maintenance and tender love and care, but they are sometimes your only option for certain automobiles, and you should not make compromises on your dream car.

There is a myth out there that true car enthusiasts prefer manuals any day of the week, but in reality, this is nothing else but an unfounded myth. Statistics show that even the more manual-oriented cars such as Porsche 911 GT3s, BMW M2/M3s are all usually optioned with auto boxes.

While everything is working as intended, automatics are just a lot easier to live with. That being said, if something does go south, it’s likely going to be an automatic. But that is more the case with older used cars, newer automatics are way more reliable.

As mentioned previously, the car industry is moving towards automatics. Some brands like Mercedes don’t even offer any manuals in the US for more than a decade now. Manuals are amazing, and there are many benefits to a good manual box, but an automatic is just better as a daily driver.

FAQ Section

Which cars are better with a manual?

Some sports cars that are mostly focused on the pure pleasure of driving benefit the most from a good manual gearbox. Cars such as the Porsche 911R are only offered with a manual because the true character of such a car can not be fully expressed even through Porsches own industry-leading PDK gearbox.

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But the more track-focused sports/supercar is now mostly an automatic, and there aren’t many sport/supercars out there that are still offered with a manual box. They are just not as fast on a track, and lap times have become a top priority for many customers.

Which automatics are the best?

Not all automatic gearboxes are made equal, and some of them are better than others. For example, a traditional torque converter automatic is now incredibly advanced, and many state-of-the-art sports sedans such as the Audi RS6 and the BMW M5 are using one.

The dual-clutch transmission is also a variant of the automatic, and a dual-clutch is the most advanced automatic transmission today. Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini are the ones that offer the most sophisticated dual clutches on the market right now.

Are transmissions becoming extinct with the internal combustion engine?

Nowadays, electric cars are the hottest thing in the car industry and all manufacturers are rapidly developing many new EVs. And there is a common misconception that ALL EVs come without a gearbox.

Some EVs like the Audi e-Tron GT, Porsche Taycan, or the brand new Rimac Nevera all take advantage of a 2-speed gearbox as this setup does enable the car to accelerate faster and to have a higher top speed as well.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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