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I'm considering moving to the US or Canada and know that I will almost definitely have to buy a car to live there, but, for reasons I needn't expound, I feel extremely unsafe driving a car with an automatic transmission; How prevalent are manual transmissions on the quality used-car market? — I know that at least in the late '90s you occasionally would still see "normal" stick-shifts (i.e. like the car below and not trucks, sportscars or tanks), but I'm afraid that cheap, reliable clutch-based transport may have gone the way of the dodo.

Honda Accord EX sedan

  • A quick look in online classifieds in the NYC area suggests that there are some, but it will of course depend on your price range and on your criteria for a "quality" used car. – phoog Jul 24 '17 at 19:54
  • That's my main fear: true to market economics, things no one wants to buy are generally treated as junk, and Americans collectively don't seem to want to buy manual transmissions... And getting a car at a junkyard isn't my idea of "quality". – errantlinguist Jul 24 '17 at 20:34
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    Considering your 'feeling of safety angle' (without making a judgement as to its validity), consider what might happen if you feel the need to make a quick/reflexive gear change (and I'm assuming you'r also coming from a country where you drive on the 'correct side of the road' ;) ) - You'll put your foot on the clutch and then whack your left hand against the door - because that's where your unconscious mind expects the gear stick to be, then after you've recovered from your WTF moment you'll have to change hands and also remember that the lower gears are now towards you, not away from you. – brhans Jul 31 '17 at 12:48
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    One key safety trick I used when I transitioned from manual to automatic: Plant your left foot very firmly on the floor. Drive right foot only. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 27 '17 at 10:25
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    @PatriciaShanahan do they actually teach you to brake with your left foot in an automatic? -- that sounds like a recipe for disaster. – errantlinguist Dec 27 '17 at 14:32
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In the US, not so easy to find except for sports cars or very low end. You will not find a US high or middle market sedan or SUV with a manual transmission. Having said that, American, Japanese and Korean automatic transmissions work very well and are completely safe.

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In general it's not a problem to find a manual car here in Canada. 8 years ago When I came over from Europe I got a used Hyundai Elantra. Kijiji lists ~95k automatic and ~15k manual cars for sale. But - my wife can't drive it, many other people can't drive manual. So you'll always be the designated driver :-). Pricewise it's not cheaper, maybe even more expensive than an automatic. Today's automatic seem also to be more fuel efficient than a manual car. That was not the case in the past, but due to the recent development in electronics it's more difficult to beat the automatic. Have fun driving around here. The signs are all different, the signal (if they signal at all) is a red light not a yellow one. There is no mandatory safety check on cars on a regular basis, so even the oldest, unsafest cars can still be driven. And speeding can be very expensive :-).

To find out about the local market go to autotrader.ca or to Kijiji

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I haven't looked at the used car market in a long time but when I was car shopping in 2013 I started out looking at manuals. Everybody I looked at had some but only at the low end of the scale and what they had tended to be rather bare bones also.

So long as you are looking at the cheap end I think you'll find something. More expensive cars, you very well might not.

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New car? Several models still come with manuals, including some very decent cars, e.g. the 2018 Honda Accord. Used? You'll have to do some digging, but they're out there. (I still drive a loaded 2007 Accord EX/navi with a 5MT, that I bought new in '07.) One good thing is that if you can play coy about preferring a manual, you can often get a decent deal on one, since relatively few people in North American can drive them.

I think they're somewhat more popular in Canada than in the US, but they are not particularly popular anymore in either country. But they are out there.

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In the US can buy used cars directly from the seller, from new car dealerships, used car dealerships, and from online marketplaces like autotrader.com (no affiliation). One of the nice things about the online marketplaces is you can search based on a number of criteria. For example, looking at used sedans under 20k USD available on autotrader.com (and my guess is that any other used car marketplace offers a similar selection) in a number of major cities, there are lots of manual transmissions available, but they tend to be more sporty than the ones with automatic transmissions.

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