Downshifting, how can I learn how to do it?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by TravR1, Dec 21, 2021.

  1. TravR1

    TravR1 Road Train Member

    Nov 9, 2017
    So I'm doing flats now and I got put into a stick shifter. It's a 10 speed freightliner.

    The old guy at the terminal taught me to float the gears. And I can float up gears reasonably well.

    But I downshift and I get stuck out of gear.

    How do you float down again? If I am in 10th and want to drop to 9th is it done at 45 mph at 1500 rpm?

    How do you do it?

    I tried to watch a few YouTube videos but they were no help.

    I took a rest area exit and my truck started rumbling at about 25 miles per hour and it wouldn't downshift.

    I had it down in driving school, but that was 4 years ago and I've never seen a shifter since.
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  3. Oxbow

    Oxbow Road Train Member

    Nov 24, 2015
    Can't really help you with the speed as it really depends on tire size and gearing.

    I haven't run a 10 speed for so long that I don't recall the rpm split, but you probably need about 450 to 500 rpm difference.

    So, let it pull down to say 1400, kick it in neutral and raise rpms to 1850ish and you should be able to feel your way in.

    Give it a try and soon you will know what the difference is, and shortly thereafter you will hear/feel what is right. I suspect you may be trying to downshift at too high of rpm, and running against the governor before the match is right.

    Hope it helps. Maybe others will have a better way to describe how to learn.
  4. 062

    062 Road Train Member

    Oct 20, 2013
    Pay attention to the speed and rpm when you up shift. That’ll get you in the ballpark,then don’t be afraid give it a little clutch to help until you get better.
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  5. Dave_in_AZ

    Dave_in_AZ Road Train Member

    May 4, 2015
    It's feel. 95% feel. And do it slowly and without force.

    I typical downshift from 10th at about 50mph depending on the situation.

    It's REAL easy to break a tooth pulling it out of gear as well.

    Kick it up to 1500 or 1600 and have it ready to ease in. You have to feather the throttle as well.

    Then you'll be in gear a bit above 45mph by the time your shift is complete.

    If downshifting for breaking......hit the Jake's, back it down to about 45, pop it out, brakes, Rev it to 1500 and pop it in 8th.

    It's all practice and feel, and do it slowly so you learn to do it correctly.
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  6. LtlAnonymous

    LtlAnonymous Road Train Member

    Dec 23, 2016
    There are two ways to do a float. One where you bump up the RPMs and slip it in the gear before it falls, and one where you raise the RPMs about 500 and hold it there, then slip the shifter in. I call them passive and active floating, but I'm sure there's another name for them.

    In either case, a bump of about 500 RPMs from where you slipped out of gear is necessary. It just depends on if you want to be on the fuel pedal or not.
    Dino soar, TravR1, Bean Jr. and 2 others Thank this.
  7. idriveaholden

    idriveaholden Medium Load Member

    Mar 14, 2018
    Just use the clutch once to get out of gear and practice reving it up and ease it into the next one down . After a while you’ll get better and be able to do whatever you want.
    i still usually half clutch to get out of gear.
    spindrift, Brettj3876, TravR1 and 6 others Thank this.
  8. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    EVERYONE has more trouble down-shifting than up-shifting. EVERYONE.

    Freightliners suck because they have no markings on the tachometer. Most other makes have green marks or a green band to show you what is the optimal range.

    If you want to down-shift from 10th to 9th you will need to raise your RPMs about 300 - 500 in the moment you are out of 10th gear and before you shift into 9th gear.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2021
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  9. Silverking

    Silverking Light Load Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    Edgewater, FL
    Just bump the throttle when you get it out of gear press the clutch and slip it into gear. Smooth and easy once you figure out the right speeds. Most freightliners i've driven i downshift at 45 mph for 9th 35mph for 8th 25mph for 7th 15 mph for 6th 10 mph for 5th
    Speed_Drums, TravR1 and motocross25 Thank this.
  10. motocross25

    motocross25 Road Train Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    To go along with what you’re saying I had a coworker one time tell me when he was in driving school they taught them if they were ever out of whack and needed to know what gear to put it in to add the numbers of the MPH and select that hole. What you just said goes along with that. Interesting.
    TravR1 Thanks this.
  11. Frank Speak

    Frank Speak Road Train Member

    May 3, 2016
    I have no idea what RPMs. I don’t pay any attention to that, but I go from 10th to 9th at 40 mph, 9th to 8th at 30, 7th at around 25, 6th at around 15-20 and 5th at 10 mph.

    If I had to guess at the RPMs, I would guess a couple of hundred on the bump. I barely smack the pedal to bump it so I can’t imagine it bumps up much.

    As others have stated, however, it changes with different trucks.
    Speed_Drums and TravR1 Thank this.
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