Stick ShiftYou have probably heard someone say that he or she chose a manual transmission over an automatic because manual transmission vehicles get better gas mileage. While this is true in principle, it may not be true in practice. The gas mileage you get from your manual transmission vehicle will depend on several factors, most of which you control.

How Does An Automatic Transmission Work?

An automatic transmission allows the driver more control over how and when the gears are shifted. Most automatic transmissions in passenger vehicles have five gears plus reverse. As the driver operates the car, he or she shifts from the lower gears to the higher range as the car speeds up. By shifting to higher gears, the driver cuts down on the car’s RPMs or rotations per minute. This, in turn, can lead to less gas use, especially on long, straight trips with few starts and stops.

An automatic transmission can save on gas use if handled properly. However, there are many other factors that can quickly eat away at any gas savings from using a manual transmission, so it is important to consider all factors that affect gas mileage.

What Factors Affect My Gas Mileage?

In order to understand how to get better gas mileage from your manual transmission vehicle, it is important to understand the things that affect gas mileage in any vehicle. These are:

• Speed. While puttering along at 15 miles per hour is no way to get high gas mileage, speeding down the road will also lower your mpg. A speed of 55 miles per hour has been tested and found to be the optimum speed for getting the most miles out of a gallon of gasoline, although 45 and 60 will probably get you good mileage as well. Once you pass 70, your gas mileage is going to go down no matter what type of vehicle you drive.
• Weight. The more weight you put on your vehicle, the lower your gas mileage is going to be. Whether you have one or two people in the car will not make much difference, but pulling another vehicle with your car or truck could very well cause your gas mileage to suffer. Similarly, smaller cars usually get better gas mileage than larger cars because they have less weight to pull.
• Aerodynamics. A smoothly-shaped car creates less wind resistance than a boxy one. The more aerodynamic your car is, the more likely you are to get good gas mileage.
• Engine configuration. While smaller cars generally get better gas mileage than their bigger counterparts, this is not necessarily true if the engine is undersized for the car’s frame. In other words, putting a four-cylinder engine in a truck rather than a six-cylinder engine may not increase your gas mileage. In fact, the opposite may happen because the engine has to work too hard to pull the truck’s weight.
• Traffic patterns. Stop-and-start traffic uses much more gas than traveling at a consistent speed. Every time the car comes to a stop then starts moving again, more gas is used to overcome the inertia acting on the vehicle and get the car rolling again.
This means that going from stop sign to stop sign uses more gas than rolling along the open highway, even at higher speeds.

How To Get Better Gas Mileage From Your Manual Transmission

If you want to get better gas mileage from your manual transmission, be sure you pay attention to all the factors that affect your mpg rate.

First, be sure that your car is in top condition. Tires should be inflated properly, the oil and fluids checked and changed if necessary and the brakes inspected. The overall condition of the vehicle can have a significant impact on gas mileage, so be sure everything is fixed before you begin measuring your gas mileage.

Next, buy a small notebook and keep it in the glove compartment or console along with a pencil. Every time you buy gas, note the amount of gas purchased and the vehicle’s mileage. Over time, this will help you to determine if you are getting good mileage or poor mileage with your vehicle. A sudden drop in gas mileage may be a signal to you to have your vehicle checked.

Now, begin driving your manual transmission vehicle. Be sure to observe both safety rules and the rules of the road, but attempt to keep your vehicle traveling at a consistent speed and shift up whenever possible. Remember, the more times you can avoid a stop, the higher your gas mileage will be. Do not forget to shift into overdrive if it is available.

Driving a car with a manual transmission can be a fun way to save significantly on gas expenses, but it is important to remember that no transmission can be held completely responsible for your gas mileage. Continue to observe the “good gas mileage rules” and you will be on your way to saving money on gas.