Manual vs. steptronic

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I was thinking I'd get a manual, for the fun of shifting. Haven't driven one in years though.
The BMW manual was very smooth, but the gear shifter is very "tight",
little confusing to know which gear you're in. Plus the handbrake is in kind of a funny position to use on hill starts. Partly that and partly as I haven't driven one in years I was a little shaky on the BMW manual I test drove.
The steptronic though. Wow, that is just great. Shift up, shift down, shifts instantly and gives you a readout as to what gear you're in.
So what is the upside to a manual if there is steptronic? I guess you can dictate how fast to let the clutch out...I didn't get to that point as I was unfamiliar with the set point. It's so smooth I couldn't really feel it.
I would think if you're tired of shifting a lot in traffic, the steptronic is the way to go.
What sayest thou? I am into sporty driving, but I"m not going to the track or anything.
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I've had a Steptronic for many years - soon after they first appeared. And after the 'fun' of playing with it you soon forget about it and just let the auto get on with it.
The difference with a true manual box and clutch is it requires skill to use properly. And that can be fun if you like such things. The fuel consumption on a well driven manual will be slightly better in stop start conditions as there's no torque converter to 'waste' power.
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Dave, my bro is looking at a '02 325xiT with steptronic... 115k miles.... you said you have a steptronic... what is your opinion of durability? is it safe to say it is still good, or ?? The guys on a particular site named the tranny as the most likely failure if he buys it. I suspect the owner has NOT changed the tranny fluid in the 115k miles. Is doing a "smell and visual" test on the tranny fluid any indicator, or could there be deeper things ? thanks
London SW

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I'd say the Steptronic makes no difference to the durability of the box.

Dunno. My last car with the same box was ok at 140,000. This one is not yet at 90,000.

Difficult to do a test on the fluid - there's no dipstick.
I have heard no firm evidence about the life of a 4HP18/20. They don't fetch much on Ebay here in the UK so I'd guess they are no better or worse than any auto.
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That should of course been 5HP18/20. Must go to bed.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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durability alone - manual. Steps have "issues" that a manual will NEVER encounter how long do you plan to keep it? Lease or purchase?

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Manual boxes have clutches that poor driving can wear out. Synchromesh cones too.
In the UK most town delivery vans are autos - they are more reliable than manauals, and less open to abuse.
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Yes, but it's a whole lot easier to rebuild that manual (even the six-speed) than the simplest auto.

A major advantage of the manual in the US is that kids don't know how to drive them, and your chances of having the car stolen are greatly reduced. The disadvantage comes when the valet parking guys don't know how to drive them.... --scott
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That really isn't so. To rebuild a broken manual properly involves changing near all the internals. You can't mix and match part worn gears and get a quiet as new box. When an auto breaks it is usually consumable parts - clutches and seals etc that go. I've done both and a basic auto is just as easy and likely to be more successful.
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In the UK most still learn to drive on manuals. The sort of cars most chavs aspire to are manual. But as regards stealing, they won't get very far with a modern BMW unless they have the keys. ;-)

Valet parking is virtually unknown in the UK. Apart from perhaps some very expensive venues.
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You mean like parking at Luton airparks? ;-)
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Ah - dunno. I live close to the Brighton line so always use rail to Gatwick. Last time I parked at an airport you walked to and from your car to the bus. And waited ages for the jump start trolley to arrive.;-) Hence preferring the train. As well as the stories about some of these firms parking up your car on some country road.
Of course I really meant what you see in US movies - you arrive at even a modest restaurant and they whisk the car away for you. Tyres smoking.
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London SW

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wrote:

This is why the last time I went to a "we park it for you whereever we like" carpark I took my '90 Carlton estate. They didn't move it very far.
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wrote:

Not true, my daughter took her driver test on a manual, and passed first try. The biggest advantage is the grand you save. The mileage and maint. savings is not that significant anymore.
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Considering that our '91 525i is nearing 200K miles, and still has it's *ORIGINAL* clutch (and tranny of course) and most autos from that era were lucky to reach 125K, I'd always want a manual.

There's a *LOT* of difference between the autos in commercial vehicles and cars. The old C6 tranny in Ford pickups would go 500K. No car auto would be likely to go that far - in fact most go by 125K-150K.
FloydR
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My '92 525 auto - the first model fitted with the ZF 4HP18 - was sold at 140,000 miles with the auto still fine.
FWIW, 200,000 miles on a clutch is exceptional with average use.

No there's not. We don't have V-8 pick up trucks and vans here.

Your experience is very different from mine. Especially the 200,000 mile clutch. If you are that gentle a driver or do mainly top gear miles I'd expect an auto to last longer than the average with you too.
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Better example: The auto trannies in our postal delivery vans last hundreds of thousands of miles. If you used a Chevy Cavalier or Ford Escort tranny in one, it would last less than 150K. All are powered by 4-cylinder engines.
FloydR
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Well yes. Ford and GM now make crap car autos - which is why no other maker uses them, unlike years ago.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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I think you can just leave it at that ;)
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