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How Do I Upgrade My Automatic License to a Manual One?

There are lots of reasons why you might’ve learnt to drive in an automatic car. You may have only had access to an automatic, felt more comfortable with one, or just didn’t want the stress of the dreaded stall to get in the way of passing your test quickly. By the same token, there may be a good reason why you now want to be able to drive a manual, in which case you’ll want to know how you can upgrade your automatic licence to a manual one. 

How to upgrade from automatic to manual licence

If you want to upgrade your licence, you’ll need to pass another driving test in a manual car. When you’re having lessons or are out practicing, you’ll need to display L plates just the same as if you didn’t have a full licence already. You don’t need to take another theory test or get another provisional licence, while the practical will take the same form as any other test. If you fail your driving test, you can still continue to drive your automatic car whether or not you decide to try for your manual licence again. 

Should I learn to drive in a manual? 

Just five per cent of the driving tests taken in the UK each year are in automatic cars – around 40,000 out of 720,000. This is in spite of the fact that the popularity of automatics is rising all the time, with 50% more registered in 2016 than 2015. This might lead you to think there’s no point in making the extra effort to learn how to operate a clutch and gearbox. However, there are still some good reasons why it’s a good idea to learn how to drive in a manual car. 

Firstly, there are costs and considerations to consider when buying your first car, and for the future too. Automatics tend to be more expensive to buy than manuals, while you’ll have a much wider choice when it comes to the second-hand market if you can drive a manual. Secondly, most commercial vehicles and vans have manual gearboxes, so you’ll have to retake your test to operate one of these. If you want to hire a car on holiday, you might find a better choice and cheaper price if you can drive a manual, while pool cars in workplaces tend to be manual too. 

Will manual cars still be around in the future? 

In the near future, as long as there’s a demand from motorists for manual vehicles, manufacturers will continue to make them. However, further down the line, it makes little sense for us to operate a gearbox manually when our cars can perform the task for us better than ever. The wider world around us is becoming more and more automated, and there’s little reason to think this won’t apply to our cars too. We can clearly see this happening with autonomous vehicles, and we certainly won’t be expected to shift our own gears when we’re being ferried around in our self-driving cars.