‘What do you think of these new ‘automatic manual’ transmissions?’

The Car Doc weighs in.

Boston.com Cars is your go-to resource for coverage of local car news, events, and reviews. In the market for a car or truck? Check out our new car specials and used car specials curated by our local dealer network.

Q: What do you think of these new “automatic manual” transmissions? I’m looking at a couple of cars with them and have heard of problems. What makes them different and will they last like a regular transmission?

A: There are basically three types of transmissions: 1) a manual transmission that requires the driver to use a clutch and gearshift to change gears; 2) a hydraulic automatic transmission that uses sophisticated gears, hydraulic valves, bands, and clutches; and 3) the electronically shifted manual transmission, which is the one you referred to. This system uses a series of gears, similar to a manual transmission, and two clutches. These transmissions can be shifted manually or electronically. These dual-clutch transmissions are simpler, return better fuel economy, and, for the enthusiast, can provide many of the same thrills as driving a stick shift. For the everyday driver, these transmissions also have a different feel, which not everyone likes or appreciates. Regarding longevity, so far, this style transmission is holding up pretty well, although routine servicing is necessary and transmission fluid is pricey compared to a conventional transmission.


John Paul, AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor, answers questions from drivers every week. He has 40+ years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician.