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Which 4x4 Transmission Is Better: Automatic or Manual?

Which 4x4 Transmission Is Better: Automatic or Manual?

A great debate that over years creates a huge discussion surrounding which is better the automatic or manual transmission! When you are looking at a 4wd there is so much to consider and listening to everyone's personal opinion can leave you standing there totally confused.

It is possible your 4x4 will drive across a large range of terrain including mud, dirt, sand and rocks and this can have an impact of the transmission you have in your vehicle. Bars N Racks are your go to 4WD equipment provider in Sydney who can listen to your questions and offer free advice.

The Manual Transmission

Manual transmissions are a standard transmission and involve the driver manually changing the vehicle's gears as they accelerate and decelerate whilst driving. Changing the gears in the vehicle is easy, you simply engage the clutch and change the gears through the gearbox.


• Efficient on fuel, the manual engine is less complicated, lighter and they have the ability to use more gears than the automatic transmission engine. This fact has shown manual drivers will save an average of 5-15% on fuel consumption if you compare this to automatic vehicles.
• If you as a driver prefer to have more control over your 4x4, then the manual vehicle offers this.


• You need to know what you are doing when changing gears, it isn't as easy as the automatic where you can just jump in and drive. When driving offroad on different terrains you need to know how to handle the gears and when to adjust them. This can be frustrating if you are new to offroad driving. It can also mean you may struggle and become frustrated when you are in peak hour traffic and need to continually change gears.

The Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmissions on a 4x4 are a lot simpler to drive than the manual transmission vehicle. You may research the differences of 4wd equipment in Sydney to help you decide on what is best for you. This transmission is very easy to drive as you just put it into gear and the vehicle is ready to drive. The car's gears are automatically changed by the vehicle itself relying on fluid pressure to do this.

torque converter is attached to the transmission, and this is attached to the drive chain acting as a clutch that you use in the manual version.


• Driving an automatic transmission on your 4x4 is a lot easier than its manual counterpart.
• You have no worry about changing gears and your hands are not as restricted when steering your 4x4. An automatic transmission offers a smoother drive as the gears change for you.
• The automatic transmission is better suited when climbing inclines and you have a lesser chance of stalling the vehicle. The automatic vehicles only stall when the engine is having issues.


• The main downside to the automatic transmission is expensive to maintain and repair compared to manual vehicles.

What kind of transmission is better offroad

Every transmission has different advantages and disadvantages when you take them on different terrains for off-roading.

Soft sand and mud tracks

If you take 4x4 offroad and drive on sand and mud, you will know from experience that it is essential to maintain your momentum and keep moving forward. If you fail to do this you risk the vehicle rolling or becoming bogged.

An automatic vehicle provides smoother gear changes which allows you to keep your momentum and less risk of you encountering difficulty or trouble. In contrast to the manual transmission, when you change gears, this is better for getting yourself out of trouble if you have gotten yourself bogged. Being able to control the gears is essential when your tyres spin to clear the tread to free yourself and return to driving.

Water Travel

Water crossings can be stressful if you are not familiar with them. You can risk getting bogged or even swept away in water currents. Water can also be a risk to crucial parts of your vehicle if you are not used to or prepared for this kind of travel.

The automatic transmission can change gears unassisted or stop driving and you have the guarantee no water will enter the gearbox. This is the better option should you be looking at making a lot of water crossings in your 4x4.

Getting Out To The Hill Rises and Descents

Both transmissions have their good and bad points. Driving uphill is considerably easier in an automatic as all gear changes are done unassisted. You will have smooth gear changes, and this allows you to keep a steady momentum on the vehicle to reach the top of your drive.

Driving downhill is often an issue in automatic 4x4's however, as they need to have constant braking and this over time can wear your brakes down. Some newer modern automatic transmissions have brake assist, and this takes pressure off the brakes.

Manual transmission 4x4 vehicles have a lot less issues when travelling down hills as you manually change the gears meaning you have the need to brake ness as you move down the gears. This can lead to a slower descend but it is not as stressful on the transmission.

Rock Climbing

When you are out rock climbing it can be one of the harshest terrains to drive across on your 4x4. When you rock crawl in a manual transmission it requires the driver to be extremely precise and using the clutch a lot which if not experienced can be difficult.

An Automatic transmission when rock crawling can be a lot easier and also safer as it allows you to focus more on driving and focusing on being in control.

What will be the better option?

4WD transmission equipment can be a choice that comes down to the individual and what they are more experienced on driving.  If you are an experienced driver it is safe to say the choice really comes down to you. 4WD equipment in Sydney has a range of choices and Bars N Racks has all you could ever need in their 4wd equipment shop in Sydney.

Bars N Racks welcomes you to come into their store and chat to the team. There are also many videos on the internet that will also explain what is best should you be having difficulty in making the choice on what transmission to buy when ordering your next 4x4 vehicle.

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