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What's In-Between Manual And Automatic?

Manual transmission cars give drivers complete control over the gears, but there is the hassle of having to coordinate the clutch with gear change. Automatic cars, on the other hand, are a dream to drive, but drivers have no choice over the precise moment for changing gears. Enter semi-automatic transmission which allows the driver to choose when to change gears, but without the need for a clutch.

This is not a brand new concept, and only certain cars have a semi-automatic version of an existing car. Some cars even have two types of transmission for the driver to choose which one to use. Semi-autos may be less smooth then a fully automatic car, but they offer the same benefits as manual transmission (such as a lower manufacturing cost compared with fully automatic ones).

How Semi-Automatic Cars Work

Clutchless manual transmission is a system which uses electronic sensors, processors and actuators to change gears as and when decided by the driver. There is no need to depress a clutch pedal before making a gear change. Instead, the driver changes gears with a gear-shift lever. The driver only has to continue placing pressure on the lever while he selects a gear, without the tricky bit that means having to find the "biting point" at which to disengage the clutch in a manual car.

In a semi-automatic, the pressure placed on the gear lever trips a switch, engaging a hydraulic clutch actuator. Hall effect sensors gauge the direction of requested shift. This input, together with a sensor in the gearbox which senses the current speed and gear selected, feeds into a central processing unit. This unit then determines the optimal timing and torque required for smooth clutch engagement.

To stop the car, the driver only needs to apply the brake, moving the selector into neutral. In every action, the gear selection movement in manual and semi-automatic cars are identical, except for clutch actuation. In this way, semi automatic cars avoid torque converters, which must be used in automatic cars. The fully hydraulic nature of a torque converter provide smooth starts and shifts, but with the price of higher fuel consumption for keeping the flywheel rotating. Semi-automatic cars therefore consume less petrol than automatic cars.

Reduce Your Petrol Bills

Being a real estate agent means you're always on the move. If you own a vehicle, you'll find driving-related expenses are part of the cost of doing business. Rather than waiting for pump prices to drop, why not practise some driving habits that help keep petrol consumption down? You'll also be doing your part for the environment!

  • Drive at a moderate, steady speed for optimal use of petrol. You consume more fuel when the car is travelling at a high speed to overcome air resistance.
  • Look ahead when driving. By anticipating traffic conditions,
    you minimise the need for unnecessary braking. A stopstart driving style uses up more petrol.
  • If you are driving a manual car, get into top gear as soon as possible without accelerating harder than necessary. Engage the car in the appropriate gear. Driving in a lower gear than needed wastes fuel. The same goes when you overwork the engine by using the top gear while going up slopes or round corners.
  • Service your car at intervals recommended by the car manufacturer. Worn spark plugs, dragging brakes and low transmission fluid levels will affect fuel usage.
  • Keep tyre pressure at recommended levels. Under-inflated tyres are not only a safety hazard, they also cause

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