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Are automatic driving tests easier to pass for learners?

The number of people taking their test in an automatic car has been increasing over several years. Overall, the vast majority of people are still learning to drive in cars with manual gearboxes, but experts say the shift towards automatic driving tests is likely to continue.

Data from the DVSA shows that in 2011-12 there were 70,429 automatic driving tests conducted in Britain. By 2021-22, the number had risen to 242,713.

This probably comes as no surprise given the increased interest in electric vehicles, which are generally automatic, and the idea that passing your test and driving in an automatic is easier than in a manual car. Plus, with the ban on new petrol and diesel cars being sold in the UK fast approaching in 2035, this has likely also led to learner drivers opting for an automatic transmission car.

In this blog, we consider the pros and cons of taking an automatic driving test.

Is it cheaper to learn in an automatic car?

Driving schools vary in price and you can get discounts and better deals by booking a course of lessons rather than booking them one at a time. However, as a general rule, lessons in automatic cars are often more expensive than driving lessons in manual cars.

There are many reasons cited for this. For instance, many believe that the higher price reflects the higher costs involved with maintaining and repairing an automatic car, while others believe that learner drivers tend to pass their driving test with fewer lessons in an automatic car, so the price must increase to reflect this.

Although the price for automatic driving lessons is a few pounds more for each lesson, there could be potential cost savings if you find you don’t need as many lessons in an automatic as you would need in a manual car. However, this should be taken with a pinch of salt. As pass rates are generally lower for those using automatic vehicles, this could actually mean you end up forking out more money for lessons in the event you fail your driving test.

How many lessons would I need to pass my driving test in an automatic?

Although some people claim that you need fewer lessons to pass your driving test, the pass rate for automatic drivers is actually lower compared to learner drivers taking their test in a manual car. It’s generally thought that 45 hours’ worth of driving lessons supplemented by around 20 hours of private practice with an eligible supervisor are needed to pass your driving test.

Is it easier to pass an automatic driving test?

Not necessarily. The average pass rate for automatic driving tests is around 39.2% since records began, and the pass rate for 2021/22 was 41.7%. Compare this to the average pass rate for the UK, which was at 48.9% in 2021/22, and you’ll see that the pass rate isn’t as high for automatic driving tests.

How can I increase my chances of passing my automatic driving test first time?

Many claim that it’s easier to pass your driving test in an automatic car. This could be causing some learners to take their driving test before they’re ready. You must make sure you’re feeling confident and prepared for your test before you book it.

In general, practice makes perfect, so make sure you go for driving lessons regularly in a range of different conditions. It’s also a good idea to review the most common driving test mistakes so you know what to avoid doing. Read more of our driving test tips to help you pass your automatic driving test first time in our blog.

Is the theory test the same for both automatic and manual cars?

Yes, the theory test is the same for both automatic and manual cars as the driving knowledge and driving laws are the same regardless of the types of car you drive. This means you can use the same resources for the theory test as someone learning in a manual car would.

How much is an automatic driving test?

The theory and practical driving tests for both manual and automatic cars are the same: £23 for the theory test and £62 for the practical driving test if you take it on a weekday, or £75 if you take it on the weekend or a bank holiday. You can book a driving test on the government website.

Can I do my driving test in an automatic car?

Yes, drivers can choose between completing their driving test in a manual or automatic vehicle. If you’ve learned to drive in a manual, though, it might be better to choose a manual driving test instead. If you do your driving test in a manual car, you can drive both manuals and automatics when you pass. However, if you do your driving test in an automatic car, you’ll only be able to drive automatic cars once you pass, not manual vehicles.

Can I change my driving test from manual to automatic?

Yes, if you’re struggling with clutch control or shifting gears, you should be able to swap driving instructors so you take lessons with an instructor with the correct type of car and also change your driving test from manual to automatic.

Can I drive a manual car if I pass in an automatic?

People learning and taking their test in an automatic car do not learn the necessary moves that you need to know when driving a manual car, such as clutch control or shifting manual gears. This means if you pass an automatic driving test, you will have to pay for and take another driving test in an automatic vehicle. Find out more about upgrading your automatic licence to a full manual licence.

Can I drive an automatic if I pass my test in a manual?

When you pass your manual driving test, you are fully qualified to drive an automatic car too. This means you can switch between the two if necessary.

Once your pass, your driving licence includes a list of vehicle types you can drive. You can find an explanation of what the driving licence categories mean on the government website.

Is insurance more expensive for automatic cars?

Many different risk components combine to create personalised motor insurance quotes. In general, automatic cars are usually more expensive to buy, but you might not necessarily find that your premiums are higher as the cost of your insurance will depend on a number of factors.

What happens if I apply to upgrade my automatic driving test licence and I fail my manual test?

You can continue driving an automatic car as normal. However, you can only drive a manual transmission vehicle when you display L-plates and have suitably qualified supervision and insurance. You’ll need to pass your driving test again in a manual car in order to drive manual vehicles.

Get affordable learner driver and new driver insurance from Adrian Flux

For a fast and affordable learner driver insurance quote, call Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or book a callback at a time that suits you. We offer cover for both manual and automatic cars. Plus, we also offer affordable cover for new drivers too.

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