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mom929 Mar 29th, 2006 01:07 PM

How important is an automatic transmission for an American driving in Ireland
I've driven a manual transmission regularly in the US for the last 5 years, but have never driven on the left side of the road. Do you think it's worth the extra $500 or so to rent an automatic for our first trip to Ireland? It seems like an awful lot of money if it doesn't take all that long to get used to shifting with your other hand and foot. Anyone else been there done that?

logos999 Mar 29th, 2006 01:10 PM

> and foot
Hope, you won't do that! Left hand is easier than right hand, it least for a "lefty" like me.

rkkwan Mar 29th, 2006 01:17 PM

If you drive a manual regularly here, no reason to get an automatic there.

Judy Mar 29th, 2006 01:25 PM

We "ordered" an automatic in Ireland but it was not available when we arrived to pick it up. We took the manual as we had reservations which we would not make if we waited the four hours for the automatic.
I'm pretty directionally impaired, drive a manual only rarely, yet was surprised to find how easy it was. Driving on the left was far more difficult than shifting gears (and I'm right handed). I would do it again....only knocked the driver's side mirror in twice.
I would say, if you can drive a manual at all, it is not a problem.

Neopolitan Mar 29th, 2006 01:32 PM

I don't drive a manual but my partner who has always done all the European driving does. Our first trip to the UK, we had a free car for a week -- but it was a standard. Everyone told us to be sure to upgrade to an automatic, because a standard would be just too hard with all the other adjustments. So we splurged the $300 or so extra and got an automatic. But when we went to Scotland the next week (after turning that car in) we got another car and had to take a standard. He had no trouble at all, and in fact wished that's what we had all along. If you're used to driving a manual, I'd go with it in Ireland.

Intrepid1 Mar 29th, 2006 01:39 PM

Getting used to shifting with the "other" hand might be the biggest adjustment you'd have to make. Are the clutch and brake pedals "reversed" as well?

logos999 Mar 29th, 2006 01:43 PM

>Are the clutch and brake pedals "reversed" as well?
Of course they aren't. How weird would that be?

Intrepid1 Mar 29th, 2006 01:44 PM

Well, excuse me for being so ignorant...if the shift lever is reversed why wouldn't the brake and clutch pedal be also?

eveningcrane Mar 29th, 2006 01:46 PM


I am a long time manual transmission driver (US) and when I went to Ireland I had no trouble adjusting to shifting with my opposite hand ( I will admit to a slight problem with the downshift to second but it was occasional and not problematic)

The toughest part of driving on the left for me, was in parking lots, with out the reference of the center line, I tended to veer to the right. Once I realized this, I became extra vigilant in such situations.

Traffic circles were also somewhat strange, but I always reminded myself that the driver side of the car should be always be nearest the center of the traffic circle (likewise the driver's side of the car should always be nearest the center line).

My husband similarly didn't have any co-ordination problems with shifting with his left hand when he drove in Australia and England, (both of us are right handed) so I really wouldn't spend the extra money for an automatic unless you can't drive standard.

Have a great trip. I have been to Ireland four times and really want to get back there soon!

easytraveler Mar 29th, 2006 01:49 PM

Just drive the manual transmission. Everything else will come easily enough. The hardest thing is knowing how to drive - and you know that already.

I drive automatic cars in the States, but find it very easy to transition to manual when in Europe and have driven on all sorts of European roads.

As for driving on the "wrong" side of the street, well, duh, everyone else is driving on the "wrong" side - how hard is that to follow?

logos999 Mar 29th, 2006 01:53 PM

Allright, this IS a good question. Now wait for the first aussies posting tonight and the clean windscreen joke... ;-) I'm already starting to laugh...

GreenDragon Mar 29th, 2006 02:00 PM

I agree with the above... I knew how do drive manual, but was out of practice. It was more difficult dealing with stop signs at the top of hills (tend to drift backwards when shifting into first) because I learned to drive in Miami -- flat, no hills!!

You'll be fine!

mom929 Mar 29th, 2006 03:21 PM

Thanks everyone. Sounds like I'll be comfortable enough with the standard....and spend the extra money getting a GPS instead. Shifting is no problem. Reading maps while shifting and driving on the left is another story :-)

rkkwan Mar 29th, 2006 04:00 PM

Intrepid - The shifter isn't reversed. First gear is still to the left of 3rd gear.

LHD and RHD cars are NOT mirror images.

jpower Mar 29th, 2006 04:08 PM

Don't worry about the transmission - it's protecting your side view mirror that you need to worry about. Seems all rental cars' mirrors match real well and often meet at the worst time.

alya Mar 29th, 2006 04:27 PM

I learnt to drive in a manual and drove one for many years but I love and in the future would only ever buy an automatic - they are so much easier.

However, given the choice between an automatic and a GPS? I'd choose the GPS. :-)

d1carter Mar 29th, 2006 08:27 PM

You'll adjust to the differences very quickly in shifting left handed and driving on the left side of the road. The biggest adjustment that I never got over was the narrow roads. Out in the country the width of most roads seem like they are one lane with two way traffic. It is part of the charm of Ireland. Just relax and take it one step at a time. Enjoy!

LarryJ Mar 30th, 2006 02:22 AM

Last summer I went to Ireland for the first time and as always to save money I rented a manual transmission car. I was a little concerned about shifting left handed but found that before I got out of the airport complex it all seemed perfectly natural. Never had a problem with the left hand shifting.

A couple things to remember about renting a car in Ireland: By all means buy the extra "super insurance" that will cost about 8 or 9 Euros a day. This reduces your liability from something like 800 euros for an accident to 100 euros. You can't get full coverage in Ireland. The reason is Europeans from the continent and Americans have problems judging distances when driving on the left and so you have a tendency to over correct when meeting oncoming cars on your right. The result is rental cars all seem to be dinged up on the left side of the car. Even though Ireland is very rural the roads are unbelievably narrow and have stone fences along the edge (no berms) and so when you overcorrect for oncoming cars you scrap the left side of the car on the fences. Look at rental cars (you will know them from the window stickers) in parking lots around Ireland and see how dinged up the left sides are. Luckily I returned my car without any damage. I said a prayer every day that I would not kill anyone or do any damage while driving in Ireland. I'm returning in June and pray that my luck (or answered prayers) hold up.

Have fun, Ireland is great.

Larry J

LarryJ Mar 30th, 2006 02:27 AM


Also when you make a right or left turn at an intersection don't forget to stay on the left side of the road. Sounds simple but everyone has a natural tendency to move to the right when turning. Also when you pull off the road to get gas or something, remember to stay left when you pull back into traffic. It's amazing how you keep finding yourself going to the right. Keeping left is much more difficult to deal with than shifting left handed. Also watch your speed on country roads. The speed limit signs will say 100 km but you will find that due to sharp curves and very steep changes in profile in the road you often can do no better than 30 km. Watch for bicycles on blind curves and hills. I would sooner ride the space shuttle than ride a bike in Ireland.

Larry J

fuzzylogic Mar 30th, 2006 02:34 AM

mom - you've had great advice. But why spend the money saved thereby on GPS? Was that ironic?

I think we should be told.

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