Getting to grips with manually changing gears can be quite stressful for learner drivers, so some people opt to learn in an automatic transmission car. With no clutch to worry about or gears to change, you can focus on getting the basic manoeuvres right and then, when you feel confident, you can move on to a manual transmission.
But what if you never feel comfortable or co-ordinated enough and choose to take your driving test in an automatic car? These are some of the pros and cons of holding an automatic licence and how you can trade up to manual if you need to in the future.
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Automatic v manual
The vast majority of cars in the UK have a manual transmission and they win hands down on speed, fuel consumption and cost. But automatics can be a lot safer, as you keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times, and even experienced manual drivers choose automatics for ease of use. When you’re learning to drive, it’s much easier and quicker to learn in an automatic, and that could save you money on your driving lessons.
What licence will I have?
If you take – and pass – your driving test in an automatic, you’ll be issued with a Category B Auto licence. This means you can only drive vehicles with an automatic transmission.
What vehicles can I drive?
You can drive any category B vehicle. Category B vehicles are those up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) with up to eight passenger seats. In other words, you can drive a car and a motor tricycle with a power output higher than 15kW, as long as you’re over 21.
You can also tow a trailer of up to 750kg or something heavier, as long as the total weight of the car and trailer doesn’t go above 3,500kg MAM.
You may eventually decide that the automatic licence is just too restrictive – hire and courtesy cars are often manuals. If you decide to trade up to a full manual licence, you’ll have to take another driving test, although you won’t have to take the theory test again.
And because you can already drive, confidence and experience will be on your side.
Take some extra lessons and you’ll pass first time!