Manual Choke vs Electric Choke: Know The Difference!

Before the 1990s, starting a car on a cold morning was a hectic and frustrating process. It would have likely involved a manual choke. However, with the introduction of automatic chokes, manual chokes were no longer installed in new car models though they are still in use.  

Whether to choose manual choke or electric choke all goes down to personal preference and performance. Nowadays, most car models come pre-installed with automatic chokes. However, many still prefer the reliability of manual chokes and the control they offer. 

If you are stuck between the two choices, this article is for you. It gives a comparative review for better understanding and to help you make a decision on the same. 

Manual Choke vs Electric Choke: Detailed Comparison

manual choke vs electric choke

Typically for cars, whenever the engine is cold, it will require a richer air/fuel mixture before it can get started. This is where a carburetor choke comes in handy. 

A choke is basically a blade or plate that covers the primary barrels and its work is to control the air flowing through the carburetor. The aim is to ensure that there is less air and more fuel entering the intake manifold.

From here, the engine starts to warm up, and hence it can run on a leaner mixture. The choke plates operate by opening up slowly to allow more air into the combustion chamber of the engine. This operation can be done either manually or automatically. 

A manual choke is designed to be lever-controlled on the side of the carburetor. This will be manually operated by moving a lever or knob on the interior of the car, connected by a cable. 

The automatic choke utilizes a metal spring that works to open and close the choke plate. This spring is usually wound in a housing that is attached to the choke linkage on one end.

As the engine continues to warm up, the metal spring is also warmed up in the process, which causes it to expand, rotate, and open the choke plate. Automatic chokes are classified into three; electric, divorced, and hot-air choke. 

Also Read: How Long Will 4mm Brake Pads Last?

Manual Choke 

For the manual choke, the plate is manually rotated from a horizontal to a vertical position. This is done by manipulating the lever or knob located in the car’s interior. When the choke is pulled out, it is put in a horizontal position.

This translates to cutting off the air intake to the engine and gives it a richer fuel environment. Thus, the engine can run continuously and warm up easily. The manual choke offers more control and is mostly the preferred type. 


  • They are cheap, simple, and operator adjustable 
  • It saves gas and prevents pollution 
  • It offers more control 


  • It requires a bit of knowledge and attention on the driver’s part 

Electric Choke

Nowadays, most new cars come fitted with automatic choke and not manual ones. The electric choke is an example of the automatic choke which utilizes electricity to warm up the spring which in turn gradually opens the choke.

It is to be wired to a circuit that is powered when the ignition switch is on. Another wire goes to the ground. The heating element is located in the choke housing which opens the choke as it gradually warms up.  It is more convenient than its counterpart and easier to install. They are also very popular and reliable. 

However, it comes with several disadvantages. For one, unlike the manual choke, it does not offer control. Also, it is more likely to fail to operate at all. This means that you will not be able to start your car.


  • No operator input is required 
  • It is convenient and easy to install 


  • They can malfunction 

Also Read: TPI vs TBI

How Does the Choke Affect the Performance of Your Vehicle?

For those who reside in warm climate areas, there is no need for a choke. Moreover, most race vehicles can work without a choke. However, if your area tends to be cold, it may affect the engine’s performance and a choke will be very instrumental. 

Whenever you are in the market for a choke, ensure you get one that best fits your needs. For those who want more control, the manual choke is recommended. Automatic chokes are trickier to adjust and install but are more convenient. 

Is It Possible to Convert Automatic to Manual Choke?

It is possible to convert from an automatic to a manual choke if you have a special conversion kit. This is made possible by the use of a special conversion kit. However, installing a manual choke on a car that was equipped with an automatic choke is unlawful in most jurisdictions. 

Can You Change Electric Choke to Manual?

It is possible to change an electric choke to a manual choke. To do so, you will need a choke conversion kit. The kit can be purchased from your car dealer or any accessory shop. Remember that not all carburetors are catered for.  


The Edelbrock is renowned for superb performance. You can count on it to work very well straight out of the box. It also comes with unique features that are not available in other expensive versions. 

The divorced choke has a unique setup where the metal spring is located on the intake manifold. This spring in turn connects to the carburetor with a small rod. During operation, the spring is warmed by the exhaust gases that flow through the cross-over passage. 

The hot-air choke, on the other hand, has a metal spring located in its own housing. There is a tube that connects to the housing which then supplies air heated by the exhaust. Both the divorced choke and hot-air chokes are recommended for replacing an OEM-style carb. 

Final Words

Carb chokes play a vital role in cars, especially in cold regions. The dilemma lies between manual and electric chokes. Both these chokes come with advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, now you can make a guided decision and settle for one that will suit your needs. 

Related Posts: