Manual vs automatic car insurance

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People who live in expensive areas may be looking at every option possible to bring their car insurance costs down. Many variables affect the cost of car insurance, such as your age, driving history, geographic location, vehicle usage, vehicle type and more. Before you purchase your next vehicle, you may be wondering if it is cheaper to insure a vehicle with an automatic vs. manual transmission.

Generally, it may be cheaper to insure a manual because these vehicles are cheaper to repair and replace should a claim occur.

What is the difference between manual and automatic cars?

Short answer? The transmission.

Your vehicle’s transmission is the part that moves power generated from your engine to your wheels. While your car’s wheels are technically the part that moves your car, the transmission is the power behind the wheels.

Manual transmission cars

A standard vs. an automatic transmission is quite different in how it operates and how it’s installed. As the name suggests, a manual requires the driver to manually shift gears to change the amount of power going into the wheels.

So why are manual cars generally cheaper? Because the machinery in a manual is quite simple compared to the machinery in an automatic. It boils down to less cost to work on and to replace.

Automatic transmission cars

A vehicle with an automatic transmission is the opposite of a manual. Instead of the driver manually shifting gears to change the vehicle’s power, an automatic guides the transmission through how the gas pedal is manipulated. Therefore, the vehicle changes gears on its own, without extra work needed by the driver.

Because the mechanics in an automatic are quite sophisticated, working on an automatic transmission is more difficult and costly than a manual.

How does a manual vs. automatic car affect your insurance?

Assuming that the only difference between two cars is their transmission, a manual may cost less than an automatic to insure. However, it is unlikely that the cost difference between the two transmission types is significant.

Many variables impact the rate auto insurers will charge for a vehicle. These variables include how safe the vehicle is for the driver and passengers, how much damage the vehicle could cause to another vehicle in an at-fault accident and the cost to repair or replace parts. Because of these variables, it is unlikely you would see a direct correlation between transmission type (manual vs. automatic) when quoting your auto insurance premiums.

Also, keep in mind that many things influence the average cost of car insurance besides what type of car you drive. The biggest factors include:

  • Age: Younger drivers are riskier to insure since they have less driving experience. Because of their inexperience, they are more likely to make poor decisions (such as text and drive or speed) or cause an accident in higher-risk situations (such as heavy traffic or poor weather conditions), which is why insurers charge them more.
  • Gender: According to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), men are more expensive to insure because they get in more accidents. As a consequence, they file more claims and cost insurance companies more money.
  • Driving history: If you have a history of at-fault accidents, speeding tickets or DUIs, you may be considered a high-risk driver. Incidents on your driving history can increase your premium.
  • Amount of coverage: You can purchase various levels of liability, as well as additional coverage types for your auto policy. These include such things as comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, personal injury protection, and uninsured motorist coverage. Choosing different coverage levels impacts your car insurance cost.
  • Deductible: A deductible is an amount that is withheld from a payout after a claim. The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly payment.
  • Location: Some locations are riskier than others. This can be because of crime, vandalism, accidents or even weather conditions. In most states, your ZIP code is considered a rating factor when determining your car insurance costs.
  • Discounts: Most insurers offer their policyholders multiple ways to save through discounts. Take advantage of these, and you can significantly lower your premium.
  • Company: Insurance companies don’t charge the same rates. Sometimes just switching carriers can save you money.

If you’re looking to save on your car insurance premium, consider the above factors before you decide to purchase a manual car to save money. The cost to insure a manual compared to the cost to insure an automatic is likely insignificant.

Frequently asked questions

Are manuals cheaper to maintain?

Possibly, manual transmissions may be cheaper to repair or replace. Though repairs costs vary depending on the type of car you own, a manual transmission costs much less to replace than an automatic transmission.

Which car lasts longer— a manual or an automatic?

Manuals have much less complicated machinery, which translates to a smoother operating experience and longer lifespan. If you’re a conscious driver, you can also save money on gas in the long run. Because you’re always telling the car exactly what to do, energy is not wasted when switching gears to speed up or slow down.

Which car is best for urban living?

Because you’re constantly shifting up and down, an automatic can be the safer vehicle for living and working in the city. Driving in the city requires fast reflexes and a constant changing in speed. This can be a lot of work for someone driving a manual, which could result in an accident.

Written by
Lauren Ward
Insurance Contributor
Lauren Ward has nearly 10 years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and Reviews.com. She covers auto, homeowners, and life insurance, as well other topics in the personal finance industry.
Edited by
Senior Insurance Editor