Other Types of Transmissions

Apart from these two main types of transmissions there are other, less popular types available:

Tiptronic: These transmissions work like automatics by default but they allow the driver to override the computer's "decision" by manually switching gears. This technique was developed by Porshe and is commonly used by Audi and Volkswagen. In some cases the manual shifters are installed on the steering wheel (called paddle shifters) but more commonly they are located by the gear shift in the center. Tiptronics protect the transmission by not allowing the driver to shift when the action would harm the engine.

Semi-automatic: also known as cluchless manual or automated manual uses advanced electronic sensors to perform gear shifts on the command of the driver. This type of transmission does not shift automatically and completely relies on driver input. It is often used by racecars to maintain full driver control without using the clutch pedal.

Tiptronic gear shift

Non-synchronous : are designed to depend upon an operator experienced in changing gears. Common in heavey vehicles/machinery. Learning how to operate these vehicles often require special training facilities. They require the operator to manually syncronize engine RPM (revolution per minute) with drive-shaft RPM.

There are several other types which we don't discuss in detail here but you are more than welcome to provide details on the bottom of the page using the feedback form. These not-so-common types include: twin-clutch, direct shift gearbox, saxomat, etc.

Worldwide Usage

In Europe, stick shifts dominate the market with the exception of inner-city buses where the drivers would go crazy if they had to change gears five thousand times a day. Automatics, however, are becoming more popular as people relize the comfort of the free left leg.

So can you drive a manual with an American license? As a tourist - if you actually know how to drive a manual - yes you can. But many countries have separate licenses for the two different kinds of cars restricting the usage of manuals if the drivers test was passed using an automatic vehicle.

The top 3 "automated" countries are the United States, Canada and Japan.

View comparison chart between automatic and manual transmissions »