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  1. #1
    Bobtail Member
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    Autoshift vs. 13 speed

    I am going to buy a Truck to haul hay from our farm to our Dairy some 400miles away. I have no driving experience driving but am in the process of learning. We have our truck narrowed down to two trucks both pretty much the same in all aspects except the transmission. They are both 2006 Freightliner columbia 120. Both were fleet trucks that were traded in with many identical trucks. The only differnce is half have an ultrashift transmission and half have a 13 speed. We will be hauling a set of 40' and 24' a-train trailers with a total loaded weight of 105,000# (legal in oregon) My Farm manager used to drive truck and says get the 13 speed, because he does not know anything about the ultrashift.) but to me the ultra shift seems to be a no brainer. (I LIKE EASY) are there any major problems with the ultrashift. I should mention that we have a 14percent hill To drive down once We leave the farm, it is about 3 miles long. Is there any problem with the ultrashift holding in a gear?????

    Thank You


  2. #2
    Light Load Member wtm's Avatar
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    13 speed because I hate a auto and shifting is part of driving a truck. 13 speed is also a good proven trans.

  3. #3
    Medium Load Member
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    Just an opinion here, but the 13 speed hands down. Worked for a company with some Autoshifts not completely sure what happened but they got rid of all of them. The 13 speed is a proven transmission and few if any problems.

  4. #4
    Bobtail Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by wtm View Post
    13 speed because I hate a auto and shifting is part of driving a truck. 13 speed is also a good proven trans.
    Ditto. Auto will also cost more to repair. The less stuff a computer controls the better.

  5. #5
    Trucker Forum STAFF Brickman's Avatar
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    Long story short.

    Buddy of mine settled for an auto shift in 2005 because the miles were low and the price was right. I told him not to.
    He has told me repeatedly that he wished he would not have gotten the auto shift.

    If the electrical system has a problem and runs low of volts it won't shift. If the air system isn't just right it won't shift. If the shift valves get dirty it won't shift.

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  7. #6
    Road Train Member Cowpie1's Avatar
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    Since a choice between ultrashift and manual 13, I would prefer the manual. If it was a 3 peddle autoshift, the choice would be harder. You can always switch a autoshift over to manual on the control and then decide when it will shift as opposed to having the computer do it all the time. With your experience level, it would be easier on you to use the autoshift. Will save some wear and tear on the tranny. 13 manuals can be very unforgiving transmissions in the hands of a novice. That is why many fleets will not spec them. I love a manual 13 and have one in my truck. But it is not always the best choice. The 13 costs considerably more to repair than, say, a 9 or 10 speed. You can beat a 9 or 10 to death and they will keep on working. Not so with a 13.

    By keeping the Ultrashift in the manual setting on the control, you will have no issues with grades and pulls. It will just hold the gear until you flip the lever, telling it to shift up or down. You wanted easy, the Ultrashift is the answer. It may have more maintenance issues over the long run, but they are not like the autoshifts of a decade ago. Don't just look at the maintenance of the transmission. A Autoshift is easier on the entire drivetrain. It will shift smoother than all but the best drivers can. Clutch life is usually longer and driveshaft u-joints will last longer. Of course, I am talking averages. Really good drivers would not have these problems. But in the wrong hands, the manual 13 is not as good a choice as an autoshift. We each have our preferences. To be honest, some days I would have no problem with an autoshift being in my truck. Other days, I am glad I got a manual 13. Have driven both styles. Not totally sure as of yet, but considering a 3 peddel autoshift 13 in my next truck. We'll see when that day comes.

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  9. #7
    El Coyote
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    We have some autoshifts in our fleet. I haven't had a single one out of 6 that would shift correctly. And those buttons like to wear out and not work. Plus we have had clutch linkage come loose. If you stop with it in gear (stall motor) it throws that computer into a tizzy and it wont let you start the truck after the linkage is fixed. Another reason i don't like them is they don't do well in mud at all, especially if hold doesnt work.

    Then again these are the first auto's i have driven and they are all macks. I would be plum ########### to drive one of this things on snow or iced roads.

  10. #8
    Clutch User gearjammer-2000's Avatar
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    well the last truck I bought happened to have an auto shift I do have the clutch peddle and now with 400,000 mile under my belt with it I can honestly say I would never go back to a manual trans.

    the one issue above that is correct is if you stall it in gear it confuses the computer I have accidentally done that twice and the fix is to disconnect the ground ,wait 30 seconds and put it back on that resets the computer, also about once a year for no reason at all it seems the computer will just decide to not shift no one has ever figured that one out but the fix is the same.

    I have never driven an ultra shift and the one time i drove an true automatic I hated it.

    from my understanding the difference between the ultra and one with a peddle is with one that has a peddle like mine you can skip gears whereas I was told with an ultra you cannot.

    other than the fact that I can if I so choose use the buttons to shift instead of a shifter there really is no difference in how the truck handles other than there is no chance of missing a gear and when you are in a traffic jam the autoshift really shines no more leg cramps from constantly having to use the clutch.
    Oh did I mention that you will feel a lot less tired at the end of your driving period?

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  12. #9
    Trucker Forum STAFF
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    3 Pedal autoshift would probably be OK, the 2 pedal Ultrashift or Freedomline, I wouldn't recommend at all.

    You are pulling more weight and probably maneuvering off the pavement. It is just easier to use a manual clutch than too try to use the throttle as a clutch.

    I do off road on every trip, and I wouldn't drive an ultashift on that job.
    One of the OTR guys has one and hauls some loads out with us, and he hates it except on the highway, that is a 13 speed Ultrashift. The 2 pedal trans aren't reccomende3d by the manufacturer for this use.

  13. #10
    "Don Cheto" Big Duker's Avatar
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    The 3 peddle autoshift is pretty bullet proof. I have been driving one for 2 years. It has almost 800k on it and has been down 1 time while still in warranty. This one has paddle on column and is very easy to switch to manual mode. That said I have also been driving a lot lately to ND, SD, CO, UT and I would die for 13 when getting into hills. Jump from 9-10 is too wide and if you wait for computer you will lose at least 10 mph. As far as going downhill it's no problem. Have been through Loveland Pass, Mamouth Pass and a few others. Just flip to manual and start down in 4-5 and bump it up as needed. They both have their strong and weak points. Get into Dallas or Denver and hit traffic and the auto is winner hands down. 13 is best overall transmission ever made. IMO Hell just buy both of em and plant a few hundred more acres.

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