Automatic Vans or Manual Vans. Vans occupy a strange spot between other vehicles because they can be both very specialized and multi-purpose, depending on what you need them for. In theory, you can use almost any van to transport any item of a reasonable size, but that does not make all vans interchangeable.
The biggest difference is the automatic or manual gear changes. In normal cars, this is generally a very important preference, especially if the car is meant to be comfortable and casual. In vans, though, it really depends on the situation because there are times where one might be much more useful than the other.
Why are they Different?
If you were not already aware of the differences between manual and automatic gears, then it helps to know exactly what they both are. While some people are comfortable with either, they are also functionally and mechanically different, which makes it important to end up choosing one that you know you will want to use.
Manual gearboxes mean that you have to perform gear changes by hand, generally controlling the clutch pedal and gearstick while you are driving. As the name suggests, this is generally all manual, so it relies on the driver knowing when – and how – to perform those gear changes properly.
Automatic gearboxes are the opposite. Instead of having to do it all manually, these gearboxes change the gears as they need to, meaning that they can generally prevent you from having to focus on using the right gears for every situation.
Why use a manual gearbox?
Manual gearboxes are usually the most common, and they are generally supposed to be the easiest to control since they are entirely driver-activated. However, this also means that they do not do anything without your input – if you do not touch the gearstick, then the van will never move into another gear.
On the positive side, manual gearboxes are much easier to maintain and do not take as much to buy or replace, something that can be very useful for people on a limited budget. This makes them more affordable in the long-term and the short-term, so they are far more common in businesses that have multiple vans to maintain.
Another improvement that comes from manual gearboxes is slightly better overall performance, mostly because the driver can decide when the vehicle kicks into another gear. As long as they are a decent driver, they can also make sure that they do not change gears at the wrong time.
Why use an automatic gearbox?
Automatic gearboxes are rarer in general, but they are a lot easier to drive. Since they handle gear changes automatically, they are meant to swap at the perfect time, which prevents jerky or unexpected changes that are common with new drivers that use manual gearboxes.
This effectively means that the gearbox doesn’t actually exist for the driver since they can focus on driving without having to control the gearstick themselves. For people who just want to drive (especially in urban areas that might require constant gear changes), this can be an invaluable option.
This automatic function also removes some of the stress while driving, which can again be useful for people without much experience. The only real downside here is that it won’t always change when you need it to change – in emergencies, the gears might not change until they are automatically triggered.
Which is better for a van?
It is easy to think “new auto vans, baby!” and decide to go for an automatic gearbox without knowing the difference, but it is important to at least consider both first. While neither gearbox type will completely destroy your ability to use the vehicle properly, it is still a good idea to know what you are getting.
In general, manual controls are much more useful in day-to-day situations for experienced drivers, especially if they are the kind of person that knows when and where to change gears. Unlike automatic vehicles, they can require more focus, so they can also be a bit harder to use for long shifts unless the driver is used to controlling that vehicle through muscle memory.
Remember that automatic vehicles are still just as effective as manual ones, with the only difference being that the gears are controlled in a different way. This can make them easier to use in hectic or stressful situations or for deliveries in areas where you need to change gears constantly.