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Automatic, manual, short-term cover, learner driver insurance
Sean O'Neill white clock learner driver3 minute read Learner Drivers

Manual vs Automatic | Which to learn to drive in

When learning to drive there’s always the thought provoking idea of which kind of car would be best to learn in. Let go through both manual and automatic to see if we can find which would best suit you.

Sean O'Neill

When it comes to learning to drive you essentially have two options, you can either learn to drive in a car with an automatic gearbox, or a manual gearbox. Typically you’ll learn in a manual car as it’s more common for cars to have a manual gearbox and it’s kind of a special request to learn to drive in an automatic car. 

So, what’s the difference ?

When learning to drive a car with a manual gearbox, you’ll notice that you have to be able to control the revs, clutch, gear stick, and just managing shifting gears. This is why it’s called manual. As much as it sounds once you get into the groove of learning to drive these things will become second nature, as you notice the sound of the revs and instinctively find the biting point on the clutch. 

Automatics, as it may seem somewhat obvious as to why they’re called this, basically automates the process of shifting gears and having to control a clutch. In an automatic car you’ll notice the gear stick wont have as many numbers on it and may have some letters such as D, R, P, and N. 

D – Drive, this will be the selected gear that allows you to drive forwards.

R – Reverse, this is the gear that will allow you to.. You guessed it, Reverse!

P – Park, this is the parking gear, so whenever you park the gear you’ll need to select this gear. 

N – Neutral, this just chucks the gearbox into neutral so it can move either forwards or backwards if needed.

Different types of cars

When it comes to what cars are manual and which ones are automatic there isn’t a huge difference. If you can find a car in manual, you’ll typically be able to find it in automatic. 

The only issue you’ll find is when looking for certain cars that are automatic, you may not be able to find it manual. This will usually be if you’re looking at electric cars as they don’t use a conventional engine so they don’t require gears. 

Veygo short-term cover and learner driver insurance

Here at Veygo we offer two types of insurance, learner driver insurance and temporary car insurance. Both of our types of insurance policies offer cover for both manual and automatic cars, in 2022 we sold over 162,955 automatic policies and more than 696,037 manual policies.

Automatic cars

There are definitely pros and cons to driving automatic cars, these fall under a few different sub categories, learning to drive, driving, finding automatic cars, and buying automatic cars.. Not to mention future proofing them. So let’s look through some of the pros.. 


  • Easy to get the hang of when learning 
  • No need to shift gears 
  • Less chance of you ruining the clutch 
  • An automatic gearbox is more reliable than a manual as it involves less human error.
  • It’s a way to future proof your driving habits

As mentioned it does seem like it would be worth signing up to drive an automatic car as there are some real pros worth considering for it, however, there are definitely drawbacks (whether convenient or not..)

So let’s quickly dive into what isn’t so great about automatic transition


  • The idea that it isn’t “real” driving.. Feels more like a game or go-karting.. (it’s definitely real so still be as careful as you would in a manual.)
  • If you’ve passed your test in an automatic car, then you’re limited in what cars you can drive.
  • Typically an automatic car is more expensive to buy (especially second hand) 
  • Cost of repairs are usually more expensive, this is due to being more complex than a manual transmission gearbox. 
  • Breakdown/recovery can sometimes be much more complicated.

Despite there definitely being pros and cons to what type of transmission your car has, they’re definitely worth considering when you look at what type of car you want to drive. But with that being said some of the views of driving an automatic mostly come down to stigma. Automatic gearboxes these days are super efficient and with the way the world of cars is going it’s looking like electric is the way forward, meaning nearly every car is going to be automatic transmission eventually.

Manual cars 

Just by looking at the numbers it’s clear that manual cars are by far the more popular one! It would be far more popular as the manual transmission gearbox has been around for far longer.

As we just mentioned manual cars have the advantage of feeling like you’re really driving. This stems from being more difficult to learn in and not to mention professional motorsport, seeing and knowing your favourite drivers shifting gears is bound to give you the urge to want to feel like that (no matter your age!).

After thinking a little bit about manual cars let’s dive right into the pros and cons.. 

  • First off, you’re not limited to what kind of car you can drive. 
  • finding /purchasing a manual car is far easier in the UK. 
  • “Proper” driving, more of a feel of actually driving, or more interesting to drive. 
  • Repairs are far more common in a manual car, meaning it would probably lower the cost. 
  • Unlike an automatic car, recovery is consistently simple. (or as simple as a breakdown and recovery can be)

As fun and convenient driving a manual can be, let’s not forget about the cons..

  • Can be considered slightly more difficult to learn to drive in.
  • Potential to burn out the clutch
  • May not be the way forward as it seems most cars are going in the direction of electric motors.
  • Having to change gears while driving..

Which is best ?

It’s very easy to look at the pros and cons when considering what type of car to drive, and again it’s very easy just to think “I’ll learn to drive in an automatic, it’ll be quicker and easier”, but it’s not always as simple as that. 

It may be a bit easier to drive an automatic when you first start driving but there are definitely other factors to think about. For example when learning to drive there are far fewer driving instructors that teach in automatics, purely because of availability. This then leads to longer wait times which in turn results in a longer wait to get on the roads. 

On the other side of that coin you may be thinking about learning in a manual, but you may take ages to get the hang of driving a manual car, this will then result in more time in driving lessons, and more money spent paying an instructor for extra lessons.

However, you could get around paying your instructor to take you out driving by purchasing some of Veygo’s learner driver insurance, buying this will allow you to get out on the roads, and you can pay for as little as one hour so you don’t have to over spend on an extra driving lesson or buy a whole learner policy. 

Speaking of insurance, don’t forget to think about how much you’ll have to pay after your test. Typically a manual car is cheaper on insurance than an automatic, but this isn’t the deciding factor on what makes a car cheap to insure! 

If you’re unaware of what you want to drive or when you’ll be looking to purchase your full policy, then here at Veygo we offer temporary car insurance, you’re eligible to purchase this after you pass your driving test and can just roll around in your parents car while you decide which car you’ll be driving. 

Just a final reminder, if you’re learning to drive and need to get more time in to practise on that pesky clutch then our learner driver insurance is a great option for you to get the hours in without breaking the bank!

Sean O'Neill

Having worked in the insurance industry for a while now, Sean has become an expert in the field, especially when it comes to learner and temporary car insurance policies. Working in SEO for Veygo he's had to learn the ins and outs of the industry so that he knows exactly what he's writing about, and why.

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