Automatic to manual transmission swap

Is it advisable to switch from automatic to manual transmission?

Here’s what the industry experts have to say.

Is it advisable to switch from automatic to manual transmission? Europe is a continent that has traditionally used manual transmission. Despite the influence of the US car industry (where automatic transmissions predominate), Europeans remain loyal to the clutch pedal and manual transmission.

For this reason, many drivers who buy a car – either second-hand or directly from a dealer – with an automatic gearbox often request a change to a manual transmission.

Is this practice advisable, what performance can such a changeover offer my vehicle, and is it cost-effective? We will discuss this type of debate in depth in this article.

Automotive trends in the transmission sector

According to an article in Automotive News Europe, in 1997 only 10% of the vehicles registered in Europe were automatic cars. At that time, automatic cars accounted for 90% of the United States.

In some southern European countries (such as Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy), the reluctance to switch to automatic gearboxes is even more marked. At the beginning of the Millennium, the percentage of automatic cars in these countries was less than 3%.

Although the percentage of automatic cars in European countries has increased today, it is still a minority. According to the specialist magazine Car and Driver, the percentage of automatic cars in Spain has stabilized at around 30%.

So why is it said that the automatic car will not succeed in Europe?

There are several reasons that lead us to believe that the automatic transmission type will never achieve hegemony in Europe. BCAR points to three main reasons for this conclusion:

  • Automatic transmission is associated with luxury cars: In Europe, luxury cars have traditionally been automatic cars.
  • The orography of the continent: Europe (especially in the south) has an orography with many changes in altitude. On such roads, manual driving is more effective.
  • The type of driving: The gearstick allows for more aggressive and – in most cases – more fun driving.

How much does it cost to switch from automatic to manual transmission? 

To answer this question, it is useful to consider several variables. Firstly, the cost of the parts. The parts that make up the manual gearbox are the lever, the toothed pinions, the shafts, the sectors, and the shift cables.

The shift cables are perhaps the most delicate part of the gearbox. Partly because they are very specific parts that need to be perfectly adapted to the engineering of the car.

At BCAR, we have specialized as a worldwide reference for more than 10 years in gearbox cables, which allows us to have one of the most extensive catalogs in the whole sector. Specifically, BCAR meets the market demand for 1,500+ references.

How to switch from automatic to manual transmission?

The process of switching from manual to automatic is changing the type of transmission. Often, this modification is carried out on older cars that were originally manual transmissions to have a more aggressive driving style.

It is also true that, in many cases, this modification from automatic to manual can be complex, since it is necessary to modify the engine and even the bodywork.

Therefore, we can conclude that, during the process, the cost-effectiveness of the change must be weighed against the final result to be obtained in the long term.