Is it possible to swap out a manual transmission for an automatic?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

My daughter has given me her car, a 1991 VW Jetta, which is a stick shift. I am having difficulty shifting, and wonder if I could have the transmission changed to an automatic. Or would it be cheaper and safer to just trade the car in for an automatic?

TOM: Changing the type of transmission in a car is equivalent to a human sex-change operation. It's technically possible, but it's awfully complicated. And it's not only expensive, but it's also tough to find people who know how to do it. And it's not something you want done wrong. So let's eliminate that option.

RAY: I see two realistic choices for you, Mary.

TOM: Automatic hormone therapy?

RAY: No. One is to learn to drive a stick shift better. The cost of that option would be a few bucks in private driving lessons, and another four or five hundred for the clutch that you inevitably ruin while practicing.

TOM: But if I were you, I'd just trade the Jetta for a car with an automatic. Life's too short to be pestered by your transmission, Mary. If you feel more comfortable and more at ease driving an automatic, then get one.

RAY: Now, if you were a man, we'd have to recommend the driving lessons, because your ego would be all tied up in this, and your masculinity would be threatened by not being able to drive a stick. But unless you're planning to have one of those operations we mentioned earlier, just go for the automatic, Mary. Good luck.

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