Accord Automatic vs Manual reliability?

karl7777karl7777 Member Posts: 12
edited March 2014 in Honda
I'm about to get a 2003 Accord DX and can get either manual or automatic transmission.

Which is the wiser choice just in terms of reliability & expense over the long haul (100k+)?



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Depends on whether or not you like shifting your own gears.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    wiser choice just in terms of reliability & expense

    I disagree with isellhondas on this. In terms of expense the manual transmission is definitely cheaper to replace/repair. As far as reliability goes you can generally get more miles on the original clutch than the original auto transmission. Of course if you don't shift properly or abuse the car, you may find the auto transmission more reliable - that is, you can burn a clutch in only a few minutes!
  • bodydoublebodydouble Member Posts: 801
    If you abuse the car, then either one will be problematic. But I think the manual will have less chance of failing on you from normal use.
  • timadamstimadams Member Posts: 294
    I'd have to agree that a manual tranny is likely to be cheaper to own and maintain over the long run, and will also return slightly better gas mileage. Although this last point seems to be becoming a thing of the past as more ratios are added to slushboxes. I wouldn't get a stick shift if an automatic really suits you better, but I think it would be cheaper to own and less likely to break.
  • ironmanterpironmanterp Member Posts: 57
    You can replace 2 clutches and still not spend the difference it will cost you to check the Automatic Transmission option box. I doubt you will replace one clutch in 100K under normal driving circumstances. Plus, there are fewer parts in a manual transmission and the only maintenance you have to worry about is the occasional fluid replacement that will cost no more than an oil change. As noted above, fuel economy is a plus as is the improved performance response.

    Having said that, the convenience cost of not having to shift it yourself may outweigh any $$ advantage a manual will provide, especially if you live in a congested city or anticipate other folks driving who aren't used to manual transmissions. It only takes one misshift to damage an engine.
  • bodydoublebodydouble Member Posts: 801
    Just ask my Acura dealer about the numbers of blown trannies and engine they've had to replace for the RSX 6-speed!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    When it's time to sell it or trade it in, the manual will hurt the resale value.

    Few people want them.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Also consider, a 5-speed manual transmission is not CHEAP to overhaul.

    I think this question hinges more on the driver than the economics of the situation. If you aren't too handy with a stick shift, you could burn out a clutch every 6 months no problem, and you could damage synchros or gears. It's hard to abuse an automatic, you really have to be intent on destroying it.

    Also depends on the type of car. I don't really see much point in having a manual shift Accord.

    I'd say if it's an Accord, and if you aren't particularly fond of stick shift, buy an automatic. The difference in cost isn't so great as to warrant a decision based on money alone.
  • ironmanterpironmanterp Member Posts: 57
    "Also consider, a 5-speed manual transmission is not CHEAP to overhaul."

    Is it cheaper to overhaul an automatic than it is to overhaul a 5-speed? Is the 5-speed more likely to need an overhaul than the automatic? I suspect that the 5 speed is cheaper and less likely to need an overhaul, but I've never seen any data for a manual tranny. If anyone is clumsy enough to abuse synchros or gears, they have no business even considering a manual - they won't be having any fun driving, that's for sure.

    As far as resale goes, after the 6 or so years it takes to accumulate 100K miles, the difference isn't much, especially for a DX. For example, I found the following quotes on Edmunds for a '96 Accord DX with 100K, first column for Auto, second for 5-speed. You would expect about $200 more in trade or sale for automatic over the 5-speed:

    Trade in - $3,704 vs. $3,520
    Private - $4,575 vs. $4,355
    Buy from Dealer - $5,808 vs. $5,508
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I didn't say a manual was cheaper, just that it isn't cheap to overhaul. People seem to think that there's this BIG difference in overhaul costs, but labor is the same for R&R and the internal parts of a manual can cost more if you are unlucky. You can overhaul an automatic very often (not always) with a pile of small parts you can hold in one hand. But a cut gear set is a work of art and knocking apart a modern 5-speed gearbox is not a job for an amateur. This isn't a '65 Mustang 3-speed manual trans (about 5 moving parts).
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    Well, you have the potential to cause a lot more damage with the manual transmission, including blowing up your engine! But generally speaking, a good driver will not need anything beyond a clutch replacement. Which ends up being a lot cheaper - first, the clutch normally lasts longer than an auto transmission, and second, a clutch replacement is, most of the time, cheaper than an auto transmission overhaul.

    In other words the manual transmission is cheaper to begin with and a lot simpler and more durable, but there is a greater risk that you will damage something (or gradually wear out something) if you are not a good driver. (Or if you happen to have a bad day and downshift into the wrong gear!)
  • midnightcowboymidnightcowboy Member Posts: 1,978
    It is very difficult to burn out a manual clutch, unless you blatantly abuse it over and over. Even if you are just learning, you can master a clutch enough to adequately drive long before you burn it out.

    If you are replacing a manual clutch every six months, then yes you should be driving an automatic.

    If you are blowing an engine by downshifting and overreving then you probably shouldn't be driving a manual. This happens rarely. Apparently, one exception, you buy a celica GTS with the 6-spped for a young, aggressive driver and apparently some of the earler shift gates allowed a person to downshift from 6th to 2nd. I have a nephew who is a toyota mechanic and he said he replaced about 3 transmissions when the car first came out; Toyota covered them one time even though it was obvious misshift.

    I have a lot of experience driving manuals. 75% of my cars that I own currently have a manual transmission and I will buy another manual in the future.

    The people who think there is a lot more potential to dmage a manual transmission , obviously don't drive one !

    The only item that I can agree with even a litlle in this whole thread is that a manual transmisison will reduce the resale, that is unless the person is looking for economy with better performance and is looking at a 4 cylinder.

    Let's see the subject is reliability. I have an 1995 Acura Integra GSR 5-speed with 85K miles and I finally had to replace the clutch master cylinder. The Acura has probably been one of the most reloable cars I have owned and by the way did I mention that is is a manual with the original clutch and the engine hasn't been blown by downshifting. I guess the Apex exhuast and the AEM cold air intake and many years of driving expereince may contribute to that.
  • andrewdnaandrewdna Member Posts: 32
    I drove and am still driving my 1992 toyota celica 5 speed since 1997. Bought at 40k miles from a lady and since placed 144k miles on it. The 3rd gear hesitates a little downshifting but is fine if you dont downshift above 3000 rpm. Other than that, the clutch is fine. I suspect another 40-50k easy on it. Still havent replaced anything (nor the rear brakes yet nor the rotors) save for an exhaust manifold and done a 100k tuneup, last month replaced a torn CV boot and power steering pump. I taught myself to learn stick driving up and down the neighborhood after reading about how to operate a stick and a quick demonstration from my dad (he never sat in the car with me while I was learning.) I grinded the gears a couple times while learning, but didnt really affect the life of the transmission as you can see.
  • tblazer503tblazer503 Member Posts: 620
    over 200k just to make up the 800 balance of a auto tranny vs. manual.

    If you do the work yourself, you can buy 3 clutches @ 100ea, a master cyl. for 100, a slave cyl for 50, and still have lots of money left over for fluid changes.

    For the '03 Accords, you can not use MPG as a determining factor, as they have the 5AT now, and it gets the same mileage as the 5MT(according to the paperwork) BUT, the 5AT gets ULEV status and the 5MT gets LEV status on the engine.

    Push a CV tranny in there, and you will actually get better mileage, but I don't think they got those built well enough yet to handle higher HP applications, only available in 120HP or so applications.
  • bodydoublebodydouble Member Posts: 801
    Doesn't Nissan have one for the 345 HP Murano?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    Audi is making their V-6 models with the CVT now, and Volkswagen is about to follow suit, so CVT is coming very soon for high power applications.

    I agree though: the manual will prove more reliable and cost-effective than the auto. I will be really sad if they kill stick shifts in the decade it will be before my next new-car purchase!

    Just one note: in California, the auto '03 Accord LX and EX are SULEV, not ULEV, and since they are 5-speed autos, I guess they might be worth a try for the emissions reduction.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tblazer503tblazer503 Member Posts: 620
    another addon note...

    In CA, the Accords are available as NLEV(near zero emission vehicle) from what I've seen. Auto Only.

    Funny thing is that since the AT gets the same MPG, but puts out less emissions, one would have to think that there is much computerized control in an AT over the MT...
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    well, the thing is, when they certify them they look at total emissions on their test cycle, and the AT can totally control the engine revs and keep them way down. While this does not make the best performance for the driver (and you don't get to take advantage of that famous revving Honda engine) it keeps total emissions way down.

    Manuals will naturally rev a lot more.

    The 4-cylinder EX automatic model is certified this year '03 as partial zero emissions, to be more precise. I cannot figure how a combustion engine that remains running all the time without shutting down at stops could ever be zero emissions, at any time. Can it be that they have so refined catalytic technology that once the engine is warm, they capture ALL the emissions in the pipe?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tblazer503tblazer503 Member Posts: 620
    I'm guessing that it's more of a zero on certain things like NO, or CO... something like that... of course that just means a little tweaking here, a reprogram there... =o)
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