Manual vs Auto-shift transmissions

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by Dahmer8afew, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. Dahmer8afew

    Dahmer8afew Guest

    Hi, my wife and I are going to start CDL training soon. My dad was an OTR driver for over 30 years, so I know quite a bit about what it's like to be a trucker. He always said that he would NEVER drive an auto-shift rig until one was assigned to him. Now he says that auto-shifts are the best thing since even before sliced bread was invented. :biggrin_25523:

    So my question to all drivers, why would you want to drive a manual over an auto-shift? My dad was concerned about driving down steep grades in an auto-shift but soon discovered that manually downshifting is still possible in an auto-shift. I know some companies are going away from auto-shifts because of mechanical issues. But as a company driver, what are the advantages of manually going through 10+ gears everytime you come to a stop?
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  3. ironpony

    ironpony Road Train Member

    Sep 23, 2007
    Ask my GPS...
    How about because if you can't drive a manual - and that just may include not having any verifiable experience whether you can or can't drive one, you are not eligible for hire at many carriers.
    Dahmer8afew Thanks this.
  4. 25(2)+2

    25(2)+2 Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    the road less travelled
    Manually downshifting is possible if the computers decide it is ok, and that may not work to your advantage. The one I had wouldn't force a downshift that would rev the engine over about 1700 RPM, so you had to have it in a lower gear before starting down or ride your brakes enough to slow the engine to about 1250 for it to work 'manually'. It beeped at you if it wasn't in the parameters to allow an upshift or a downshift. The only thing you could force it not to do was upshift,lugging the engine with the selector in manual would still cause it to downshift.

    I drove one for a year and 3 months, almost to the day. I now have an Eaton 10 speed, and I would rather drive that, anywhere. You don't always have to start in low, and you don't always get to high, but you decide where and when, not like that thing did when it missed a downshift with a heavy load on a mountain upgrade.

    We both survived it, the truck went to the auction, and hopefully whoever bought it has lots of money to try and fix it, and is in possesion of good luck, because that person will need both.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
    Bazerk Wizz Bang! Thanks this.
  5. Dahmer8afew

    Dahmer8afew Guest

    Thanks ironpony. I've read on here that if you have OTR experience, companies don't ask what type of transmission you drove at your last job. My wife and I have owned stick-shifts so we're familiar with the clutch/shift process.

    Are there any advantages of a manual transmission, other than learning how to manually shift gears?
  6. Flying Dutchman

    Flying Dutchman Road Train Member

    Nov 2, 2009
    Northern California
    Any manual/stick shift experience with a synchronized transmission can be safely stored away in the memory banks for a later time, you wont need that in a truck. Truck transmissions are not synchronized, otherwise known as crash boxes. If your RPM & road speed do not match for the gear selection, you'll know it!

    Shifting a big rig is an art in its own form, you'll get the feel for your truck after the first few days, and then grinding gears will reduce greatly. But we all did it at first. Also, once you master double clutching, you might try floating. A lot of experienced drivers shift this way, and save ware on their clutches and left legs!

    I drove a 10 speed manual and I liked having gear selection in control at all times. Not saying it can't be done in an autoshift, never driven one. Personally, I'd rather become one with my truck via the transmission, not the computer! To me, shifting was part of the whole driving experience, but to each their own.
    Punisher255 and Dan.S Thank this.
  7. Gears

    Gears Trucker Forum STAFF - Gone, But Not Forgotten.

    Aug 20, 2009
    EVERYONE should learn and drive a manual transmission for a while at least. I drove manuals my entire (short) career and when I upgraded to my current truck (Pete 387), it just happened to have autoshift (with clutch for starting and stopping). I was concerned that I'd miss the shifting when I got the truck but took a leap of faith. It turned out to be a great decision. I love the truck.
    Punisher255 and king Q Thank this.
  8. bbmyls2go

    bbmyls2go Medium Load Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN
    I've not really noticed a big enough difference to say that a manual is hands down better. Both do fine with holding speed on a down hill, I kind of like jumping gears when accelerating in a manual - you can do it in an auto but I never got the hang of it. Its kind of nice to just mash the gas and let the truck do the work. In winter, its a 50/50 when it comes to which is more effective in rocking your truck back and forth to get out of rut in the ice in a parking lot - I'd give the nod to the manual for that.

    I have never had a company question my background in the types of transmissions I drove - the driver who does your road test will talk to you about it and he knows the tranny in his truck may not be the same as what you are used to, whether the difference is a super10 versus a straight 10 or a manual vs auto. It takes a short amount of time to learn a new truck anyway - between the tranny, the engine size, the weight of the load, you always have to find your sweet spot with any new truck.
    I drove an auto for a year and a half and came to really like it. My first impression was the amount of concentration I could shift to the road and away from the clutch and gearshift. You dont think much of it and old timers will argue its 2nd nature that you dont have to think about if you're a pro, but after 12 years of driving stick, I think I am a pro, and you DO still make mental calculations about speed, RPM, road conditions, distance, grades, etc when shifting manually. With the auto, most (but not all) of that decision making is safely made for you and you can give that much more attention to traffic, road conditions and hazards.
    Oh, and my knees really don't groan anymore when I learn I have to do city driving or I'm gonna hit a town at stop and go rush hour, LOL!
    Wiley Kyla Thanks this.
  9. Bazerk Wizz Bang!

    Bazerk Wizz Bang! Medium Load Member

    Having driven stick in your personal car/pickup almost puts you at a disadvantage to stick in a big rig. I have owned lots of cars and 4X4's all but one were stick. Thought same thing going into trucking. Reality in class was those students who drove mostly auto or never drove a stick did better than the hardliner stick shifters. Driving a manual big rig has little similarities than a manual car. The clutch has two positions on a big rig. First couple inches of pedal after the one inch or so of slack is the clutch. All the way down is the clutch break. You put the clutch to the floor to try to shift after you are rolling the way you do in a car, you loose your synchronization. You have to let all the way off the clutch then just barley push it in when you are at the right RPM for the gear.

    Advantages of a stick are many. Less mechanical parts, less computerization, less maintenance. You have complete control. Con troll of a big rig is the name of the game, you take away some control for comport in my book its a bad thing. You have a rubber band effect with automatic tyranny, not like stick where you have a direct link from power plant to tires. Manual you can skip gears, start out in third if you want, you can downshift in a bad situation as mentioned in a post above, bad for truck really really good if your llife depends on it, autos take that away. On ice or slick surfaces your foot is basically connected to the wheels in a manual, automatic you got rubber band effect, and if it decides to shift when you dont want it to on slick roads its game over.

    Not much to shifting despite all the hype, I am bored so I will throw this in for the heck of it.

    How to shift a manual transmission (Eaton 9 speed):

    Double clutch:
    From a stop simple enough push clutch all way to floor put gentle pressure on stick, let up off clutch just a hair it slide in first with zero grind. Whenever you come to a stop you always push the clutch in all the way hard (clutch break) to stop the gears from spinning, this is the only time you use the clutch break. Other than at a stop you use the clutch normally which is just a few inches from the time you first feel pressure on the clutch.
    Rest of gears: Its rolling, you tap the clutch in (just a couple inches, only slight pressure) pull it out of gear, take your foot completely off the clutch the RPM's hit around 1300 tap the clutch for just a second put slight pressure on the stick just enough to barely feel the teeth hitting each other not a grind and as soon as the gears mesh around 1100 RPM it will just slide in. Keep in mind if you press on the clutch to much putting it back into gear you will never get it into gear till you take your foot off the clutch for a second. Gentle on clutch very gentle on stick. The RPM of the engine and the mesh points will differ, these are just general ranges.

    Run it up threw 4th gear like a normal manual using double clutch method. Hit fourth gear flip the little flipper button on the side of the sick up and start all over again as if you are in 1st gear for the last four gears. Coming down same thing hit 5th gear, hit flipper down and put your stick in 4th gear position and run it down threw gears.

    Ice shifting, slick shifting a few names for it (you clutch it out of gear, float it into gear without the clutch):

    Ice shifting is how I mostly shift, I also do double clutch or float when the circumstance or mood calls for it. But probley 99% its how I shift, its just really convenient for me. Same as above, here is only difference. Running it up threw the gears, pop it out with clutch, i just very gently put the slightest pressure on the stick, and the transmision will basically suck it into gear by itself when it synchronizes, after transmision suckes shifter out of hand i give it a nice nudge/push to make sure its locked, if I feel it is not locked which sometimes it wont just an ultra quick jab on clutch will lock it in.

    Float shifting. Been told by lots of people not to ever take it out of gear under load at any circumstance because if not done 100% right it can chip teeth on the transmission. I dont do it very often but still do just for the heck of it. All there is two it, is hitting your shift point backing off gass a bit equalizing pressure pulling stick out of gear with no clutch and same thing as ice shifting to put it back in.

    The only difference between a 9 speed transmission and a 13 speed transmission is a 13 speed allows you to split the top 4 gears, via another flipper switch on the top of the stick. gear 5 gear 5.5 gear 6 gear 6.5 ets. This can be very helpfull for fuel power, not loosing your momentum ets. Its only really drawback that I know of despite many advantages is slightly more difficult for newer drivers to learn on or deal with, I am sure there are more drawbacks to a 13 speed as compared to a 9 speed I just dont know about them. An 18 speed you are able to split the lower and top gears, gear 1, gear 1.5, gear 2, gear 2.5 ets all the way up..

    This really has no point being in your thread, just bored as hell so givin you a half aced bonus for no reason. Does give you an idea of what to expect from a manual. Like I said above manual transmissions don't slip like automatics do so no rubber band effect. Manual is metal on metal from engine to tires 100% controll 100% of the time. Autos are compfortable, but your torque converter slipage jackin you when you dont want it to is bad! Computer shifting gears when you dont want to shift with autos, In automatics you have to get the computers permission to shift gears??? Control over comport. Always manual for me, always has been always will be.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  10. scubaghost

    scubaghost Light Load Member

    Mar 2, 2011
    I got an auto shift about 3 years ago. I actually liked it really well after driving 9-13 speeds over the years. Best thing about it was being able to drink my coffee in the morning without setting it down when I had to shift and the hardest thing to get used to was backing into a dock. You don't have as much control over the automatic, but you get used to it after a while.
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