autoshift transmission

Discussion in 'Trucks [ Eighteen Wheelers ]' started by 6wheeler, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. badmotorfinger

    badmotorfinger Bobtail Member

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    My $.02

    We have a fleet of 11 Eaton Autoshift and Ultrashift 10 speed trucks. The early gen 1 and gen 2 autoshifts had a ton of problems and really gave the product a bad name in my opinion. The Gen 3 autoshift came out sometime around 08 if I remember correctly and are a substantial improvement over the older junk. All we have are Gen 3's and we have had some problems with the 2010, and 2011 models. Most all of them have had the wiring harness replaced under warranty and many have also had to have the xy shifter replaced as well (one truck wiped out two of them in one year). Everyone of those breakdowns left the truck sitting on the side of the road which leads to my main beef with the system.....when anything on it craps out, you WILL be stuck on the side of the road. Of the 5 breakdowns I only had to have one truck towed to the dealer. I was able to get the other trucks moving again by having the driver remove the power fuse for the trans ecm for a few minutes which reset the ecm and allowed the truck to be driven back. Internally, the Eaton autoshift is like an old rto 10 speed for the most part (except for the sliders and a few other parts) and have proven just as reliable as the old 10 speeds. I haven't had any issues with our 2012 and 2013 equipped autoshifts except for one moron who shut one off with the trans still in gear and the brakes set. The xy shifter doesn't have enough strength to pop the trans out of gear with a bind on the driveline, and as a result the trans wouldn't shift to neutral and the truck wouldn't start. On a side note, Eaton did have a bad batch of XY shifters. If you have an older model, look for a purple dot on top of one of the shifter motors. If it doesn't have it, it's one of the older models and is failure prone.

    The new Ultrashift is called the Ultrashift plus for the 2014 model year. Unlike the Autoshift, it has no clutch pedal. The 2013 and earlier Ultrashift used a goofy centrifugal clutch which from what I've been told was failure prone (We don't have any, and I've never worked on one). The new plus model uses a standard solo style self adjusting clutch similar to most other clutches except for a different throwout bearing and a much larger clutch brake. The clutch is controlled by a large electric actuator on the bottom of the bellhousing. So far, we've put 150k on the three trucks with this trans and we've had one failure (bad trans ecm). The truck had just under 60k miles and the tow bill to get it to the dealer was $500. Eaton is still mulling about whether or not they are going to pay it. The ultrashift is a little tricky when backing under a trailer and it takes a little bit of practice to get to the point where you don't slam the truck into the kingpin (depressing the throttle pedal is what makes the truck move and it is rather sensitive). The automatic hill holder works awesome though and they are relatively smooth compared to a gear jamming hammer-head driver. The trans does have a learning software and will get a little smoother over time. Like the Ultrashifts older brother the Autoshift, the trans itself is very similar to the old RTO transmissions, and just like a regular trans, it does take some time for the sliders to get some wear on them and shift well. The highest milelage Autoshift we have is at just over 300k and shifts pretty smoothly, but it still doesn't compare to a skilled, smooth driver with some time under his belt. I would never put one of these in front of a smooth bore tanker.....you will get your butt kicked unless you drive with an egg under your right foot! Even though these transmissions have their faults, and can't take the place of a good driver, we no longer have to worry about broken transmissions due to missed shifts, or burned up transmission syncro chutches due to moron drivers shifting from high range to low range at 45mph.

    Most of our drivers don't complain much about them so long as they are reliable, and they really do make LA traffic much more bearable. From a fleet owners standpoint, they really help with fuel economy when an inexperienced hammer-head is at the wheel, and have bridged some of the fuel economy gap between our steering wheel holders and the good, experienced drivers. However, all of the Ultrashifts are a little slow to shift in the upper gears causing unneeded speed drops when upshifting over a long, slight grade (like the north side of Cajon Pass).

    Personally, I wouldn't own one if I had my own truck. They are great for fleet owners, but if you are someone who knows how and when to shift your engine (based on conditions) it is absolutely unnecessary. Some people may argue about how much more the Autoshift (or Ultrashift) cost to use. It's simple math: More electronics, more sensors, and more crap = more stuff to go wrong = more money to keep it running. The more you overdo the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. However, the cost of purchasing these things, and operating these things more than makes up for breakage and fuel economy increases in our application. The Ultrashift option (the Autoshift isn't offered anymore) adds about 3k to the cost of a new truck and we consider it totally worth it. As far as other Automatic transmissions, I really can't comment on the Meritors, I-shifts, and the like. We don't have any, and I don't have any experience with them. However, I will say this: Plantetary transmissions like the Allison and Caterpillar have no business in anything other than a trash truck or severe stop and go vehicle. Planetaries take a lot more power to turn (which reduces fuel economy) and are far more expensive to maintain than a standard gear to gear manual transmission whether it is computer controlled or not.

    I hope this helps. I have plenty more Autoshift/Ultrashift info if anyone needs any help..
     
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  2. russellkanning

    russellkanning Medium Load Member

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    on slight grades and many other times .... I keep it in manual and push buttons to be in the right gear.
     
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  3. badmotorfinger

    badmotorfinger Bobtail Member

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    That's what most of my drivers do. The computer is too stupid to shift when on a grade. That's another beef of mine. With todays GPS technology, and learning software, the trans computer should be adaptable enought to pick the right gear on a hill the truck has been up and down multiple times. If only the programmers and engineers would peek their heads out of their cubicles long enough to see the light! I don't think any of the clowns that program these things have ever been inside a class 8 truck.
     
  4. Cowpie1

    Cowpie1 Road Train Member

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    Haven't seen the TC10 TS that was just released this last spring obviously.
     
  5. daf105paccar

    daf105paccar Road Train Member

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    Badmotorfinger,nice idea but too late.
    They are allready taking the first steps with that in Europe.
     
  6. deming807

    deming807 Medium Load Member

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    This not gonna happen anytime soon. Even most advanced CVT for passenger car has it flaws. Non the less Eaton moves to right direction. Improving the shifting algorythm is just a matter of time.
     
  7. deming807

    deming807 Medium Load Member

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    AS+ worth it just to get rid of stick in a middle of cab. Im sick and tired to move around it over and over.
     
  8. Rawze

    Rawze Medium Load Member

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    Thanks for a great write-up. Very informative,...Rawze
     
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  9. Helowrenchturn2

    Helowrenchturn2 Medium Load Member

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    I was just reading some info on the wall at on of out terminals that's speaking to exactly what you are talking about. Apparently Schneider is purchasing trucks now with "predictive cruise control" that uses preprogrammed terrain maps and GPS to anticipate hills.
     
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  10. deming807

    deming807 Medium Load Member

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    Good engine and good transmission do not need any predicative measure as gps and/or terrain maps.