Zumbrota Bearing and Gear looks at the reasons why most drivers are ditching manual transmission vehicles.

It’s an iconic scene in any racing movie: the drivers match street wits with each other while at the same time pumping the clutch and shifting gears, with their steely gazes focused intently on the finish line ahead.

In reality, most drivers today would approach a clutch, stick shift, or gear shift as if they were admiring a fossil. Automatic transmissions have simply usurped manual transmissions as the transmission of choice for most automobile drivers. In fact, most drivers nowadays probably don’t even know how to operate a manual transmission. There are a few specific reasons for this "shift" from manual transmissions to automatic transmissions.

When automatic transmission vehicles were first introduced around World War II, they were unreliable and far less fuel efficient than their manual transmission counterparts. That reliability and fuel performance gap has almost disappeared in modern times, and automatic transmissions are generally much easier to learn and operate.

But, there’s a more recent development that has contributed to the decline of the manual transmission, and it fits in the palm of your hand like the stick shift once did.

Cell phones and smart phones have become a ubiquitous part of American life. Stand at any stop light for 10 minutes or so, and chances are you’ll see a dozen or more drivers talking on a cell phone or texting (even if they shouldn't be). While debate rages about whether such driving activity should be illegal due to their distractions, it has simply become an everyday driving reality in today’s society.

The hard truth is, you can’t shift a manual transmission when you have a phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other. Well, you can, but your chances for an accident increase dramatically.

So, unless driving habits change considerably, or laws are passed banning cell phone use and texting while driving, the manual transmission will very likely be increasingly relegated to the realm of only those who appreciate the control of operating a manual transmission vehicle, which is an increasingly shrinking, yet devoted, market.

Zumbrota Bearing and Gear (ZBAG) caters to automotive enthusiasts who appreciate manual transmissions. We stock new, used, and remanufactured manual transmissions and components to keep your vehicle up and running, regardless of make and model.

Headquartered in Zumbrota, MN, ZBAG is a national supplier of quality automotive parts for rebuilding and repair projects. If you're in the market for a manual transmission replacement or upgrade, call ZBAG today. Just don’t call us while you’re driving, especially if you're shifting.