A very common question we get is, Can I learn to drive in an automatic?

Yes, you can learn to drive an automatic car instead of a manual in South Africa. Learning to drive an automatic vehicle is quite common in many countries, including South Africa. When you take your driving test in an automatic car, your driver’s license will be endorsed to show that you are qualified to drive automatic vehicles only. This means that if you later wish to drive a manual car, you might need to take additional tests to get the manual endorsement on your license.

It’s important to consider your needs and preferences when choosing between manual and automatic transmission vehicles for learning to drive. Automatic cars can be easier to learn since they don’t require managing a clutch or gear shifts, making them a popular choice for many new drivers.

Vehicle Transmission Choices:

Automatic Vehicles:

These are increasingly popular among new drivers due to their simplicity. In an automatic car, there’s no clutch pedal, and the car handles gear changes on its own. This allows the driver to focus more on steering, braking, and understanding road rules without the added complexity of manual gear shifting.

Manual Vehicles:

These require more skill and coordination, as you need to operate the clutch pedal and shift gears manually. Learning on a manual gives you the flexibility to drive both types of vehicles.

Driving License Categories:

In South Africa, when you pass your driving test in an automatic car, your license will be restricted to automatic vehicles only. This means you are not legally permitted to drive a manual vehicle with this license.
If you learn and pass the test in a manual car, you can drive both manual and automatic vehicles.

Learning Curve:


Easier for beginners. The learning curve is generally smoother, as you don’t have to worry about clutch control or stalling the vehicle. It allows you to focus on road awareness, steering control, and other crucial driving skills.


Offers a more comprehensive understanding of car mechanics. It can be more challenging initially, but once mastered, it provides greater control over the vehicle in various driving conditions once mastered.

Preparing for the Test:

Regardless of the transmission type, the driving test evaluates your understanding of road rules, your ability to control the vehicle safely, and how well you interact with other road users.
In automatic car training, emphasis is placed on smooth acceleration, proper braking, and steering control.

Future Considerations:

While learning in an automatic car might seem easier, consider your future vehicle needs. If you plan to drive or travel where manual cars are predominant, learning on a manual might be beneficial.
Conversely, if you’re more comfortable with the convenience of an automatic or have specific needs like reduced physical strain while driving, then an automatic is a sensible choice.

Cost and Availability:

In some areas, automatic vehicles might be more costly to rent for learning and taking the driving test compared to manual vehicles.
However, the ease of learning in an automatic might translate to fewer lessons needed, potentially balancing the cost.

In conclusion, the choice between learning to drive in an automatic or a manual car in South Africa depends on your personal preferences, future driving needs, and comfort with handling a vehicle. As an instructor, I ensure that my students are well-equipped with the necessary skills and confidence, regardless of the type of vehicle they choose to learn in. Remember, safe driving practices and a thorough understanding of road rules are paramount, whether you’re behind the wheel of an automatic or a manual vehicle.