Automatic cars on finance
Automatic cars are a great option for those looking for a stress-free ride. With no need to physically change gears they offer a simpler, straightforward driving experience. It’s possible to get an automatic car on finance, too.
Benefits of automatic cars
The benefits of an automatic car vary according to both the make and model of the car, and to what you, the driver, want from your driving experience. Some drivers revel in the physical connection with the vehicle that manuals can provide; others prefer the smoother ride and less physical demands of an automatic. Here are some of the main benefits of automatic cars:
Driving experience – as you don’t have to physically manoeuvre gears or a clutch pedal, many people find that an automatic is easier to drive than a manual, particularly in stop-and-go traffic.
Accessibility – because there’s no need to handle gears or pump the clutch, automatic cars can be a great option for people living with a disability or for those with general mobility issues.
Fuel economy – the development of automatic technology means that many automatics now have a better fuel economy than some manual vehicles, although this is not always the case.
Automatic gearboxes: what you need to know
So, you’ve narrowed your car search down and have decided to go with an automatic – only to find yourself presented with a bunch of impenetrable acronyms about the gearbox. Don't worry, we'll help you wade through the jargon! Let’s look at the pros and cons of the most popular automatic gearboxes to help you decide which might work best for you.
Different automatic gearboxes
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all automatic gearboxes are the same, but this is not the case. In fact, there are many kinds of automatic gearboxes (or automatic transmissions). In general, most automatic gearboxes fall into the following categories:
Automated manual transmission (AMT)
Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Dual-clutch transmission (DCT)
They each work quite differently and can create very different driving experiences.
Types of automatic gearboxes
Also known as single clutch transmissions, automated shift gearboxes (ASG), automated manuals or robotised manuals, the AMT is fuel efficient and economical. They were particularly popular in performance cars in the late 1990s because they could shift gears quickly, but AMTs can be frustratingly jerky and in less sporty cars they are much slower to change gears.
This traditional automatic gearbox is tried and tested and has been around for decades – it’s reliable and quiet, and as a result it’s still going strong today. Torque converters offer a smooth driving experience and are especially common in larger, luxury cars. Benefits include smooth acceleration and durability; they’re great for four-wheel drives and towing. On the downside, they can be sluggish and expensive.
The DCT (or dual automated clutch) first made its debut in 2003 and today can be found in all classes of car, from humble hatchbacks to top-of-the-range sports cars. Many new cars are now produced with dual automated clutches as they are generally more efficient and change gear faster than other automatic gearbox types – although fuel efficiency will depend on the make and model of the car. The mechanics are complex however, meaning that repairs can be costly.
Sometimes known as E-CVT, this type of single-speed gearbox is often found in smaller cars due to its compact size and simple construction. They offer a seamless drive without any jerkiness; they’re fuel efficient and reliable. On the flipside they can be noisy and expensive to repair, with high maintenance costs.
What is a semi-automatic car?
A semi-automatic car is a half-automatic and half-manual car. It gives you the added option to control the gears manually. In essence, a semi-automatic provides the convenience of an automatic car while offering the benefit of extra control for a smoother drive. In the UK, a semi-automatic car is classed as an automatic, so you can drive one on an automatic only driving licence.
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Automatic driving licence
It’s important to be aware that you’re not covered to drive manual cars with an automatic licence. If you learnt to drive in an automatic car, you’ll need to take a manual driving test if you decide you’d rather drive a manual. Conversely, if you hold a manual driving licence you are covered to drive an automatic car (provided you’re insured on it, of course). This is because manual cars are arguably more complex to operate than automatics.
That said, learning to drive in an automatic is much easier than in a manual, so if you need to get on the road quickly you might decide to get an automatic-only licence first.
Getting an automatic car on finance
You can buy an automatic car on finance as you would a manual car. You’ll need to choose the type of finance that is right for you, whether that's hire purchase, a car loan, personal contract purchase or personal contract hire. Your financing options also depend on whether you’re looking to buy a used car or a new car.
As with any car finance application, you’ll be subject to credit and certain eligibility checks. You will need to be:
At least 18 years old
A UK resident of at least three years
Employed or have a regular stable income
Looking to finance a car that’s less than eight years old at the start of your agreement