Shifting after a quick slow down

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by LtDanzLegz, Jun 12, 2024.

  1. LtDanzLegz

    LtDanzLegz Bobtail Member

    Jun 12, 2024
    Long story short Ive been OTR for about a year doing flatbed but the trucks I've driven are all automatic. The jobs I'm looking at transitioning to use primarily manual transmission and im a little leary about it. I own a manual transmission car and passed my unrestricted CDL course so I understand how to shift up and down. No big deal there. My question is what to do when slowing down quickly and moving again. The gears are so short in a semi, how do you decide which gear to be in while still rolling? Example: you're driving at 65mph and have to slow down to 35 quickly. What gear should I be in?
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  3. Casper88

    Casper88 Bobtail Member

    Feb 21, 2019
    Depends on the trucks gearing, incline and your loaded weight. On a 10 speed your example would be 8th or 9th.
    Lav-25 and tscottme Thank this.
  4. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    In a quick braking event, push in the clutch about halfway, the brake pedal as much as necessary, and don't touch the shifter. Then you guess what gear to pick based on the speed on your speedometer. EVERYONE will have several times they decide "screw it, I'm restarting from a stop." That will almost always work unless you are on a steep hill. If you don't know what to do, coming to a stop and beginning from 1st or 2nd gear will work. In the truck, you cannot worry about what car drivers are thinking of you. If you need to make all of North America come to a stop, do it. Rushing so you don't feel embarrassed will just make things worth. Go as slow as you need to, even if it inconvenience EVERYONE on the road. This applies when shifting or when backing or when looking for a customer entrance. Slow and safe is better than hurry up and break something.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY having experience shifting gears in your personal car will make it MORE difficult for you to learn to shift gears in a truck. The clutch in a truck is used VERY differently than in a car. In a truck you only press the clutch down "to the floor" when you are stopped, never in motion. Re-read that sentence over and over, if you need to. People with ZERO gear shifting experience in any vehicle learn faster than people with car driving gear shift experience. Either way a few hours is enough to get you on the road.

    EVERY newbie pushes the clutch too deep when they shift in a truck. You should use just enough clutch to let you pull the gear lever out of gear or put it into gear. Your car experience has cemented in your mind "clutch is all the way up or all the way down". That DOES NOT work in a truck. The shift pattern isn't difficult. Many of the transmission use a simple H pattern with maybe one more leg added for reverse or lowest gear. Remember, the clutch goes all the way to the floor only when stationary, like preparing to move from a dead stop, or changing from forward to reverse direction. If you try to use your car shifting technique in the truck you will have a hard time ever getting into gear because when you push the clutch too deep it activates the clutch brake, which slows the engine RPM. Shifting gears in a truck is all about matching engine RPM and the gear you use. My 9 & 10 speeds usually had a pattern where each of the gears in the low range were good for about 2-5 mph of road speed on the speedometer. IN the high range the gears were good for about 5 mph. Once you see the pattern in your truck is helps a little to know what gear to be in just by looking at your speedometer.

    There are a lot of videos from truck driving schools on YouTube showing you how to shift a 9 or 10 speed (the most common transmissions for rookies). Watch them over and over.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2024
  5. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    One trick when learning to shift, keep one hand on the shift lever and keep repeating your gear number in your head. To tell you the truth I didn't know what gear number I was in most of the time unless it was top gear. I knew where the shifter was. I knew if I was in low-range or high-range, but the number? I don't know. If you count the gears in your head as you shift and keep repeating gear number in city traffic it may help you. BTW, if you are a man, turn off all radio, phone audio, etc. It will help you concentrate. The navigating/complex activity part of the male brain is interrupted if talking/listening using language. This is not as common in the brain of women.
    dosgatos, Albertaflatbed and OlegMel Thank this.
  6. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Also, you will have problem downshifting for slowing down or climbing hills. Everyone does. You will be shifting like a pro very soon and still having more trouble downshifting then you think you should. Remember you maybe shift gears 3,000 times per day and only downshift 5-10 times. It's normal. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. EVERYONE can learn this skill. You aren't any worse than the worst person earning a living right now.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2024
    Albertaflatbed and OlegMel Thank this.
  7. drivingmissdaisy

    drivingmissdaisy Road Train Member

    Jun 10, 2019
    Your experience shifting your 4 wheeler will hinder, not help, you shift your big rig.
    Albertaflatbed Thanks this.
  8. aussiejosh

    aussiejosh Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2009
    Airlie Beach QLd
    Answer is you'll find out rather quickly when your changing through the gears, you should have a rough idea what speed the truck will do in each gear, I know with an 18 speed 15 th gear is good for about 30 - 40 mph so 13 th gear would be good for a speed of between 18 - 25 mph etc etc. You'll get the hang of it after you've changed gears a few times. So if i'm in 18 th gear at 65 mph I'd be going down to 15 th gear at 35 mph.
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  9. okiedokie

    okiedokie Road Train Member

    Jun 13, 2011
    If ya can't find them,grind them. Seriously it just takes miles. No one was an expert at anything to start with. Good luck driver.
    Sons Hero, Albertaflatbed and Concorde Thank this.
  10. wis bang

    wis bang Road Train Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Levittown, PA
    Time...after a while you will manage the slow down, glance at the speedo and automatically know what gear.

    Take note of your speed as you are ready to shift up and you will start to figure out the speed range for each gear and it will become rote memory after the first 100,000 shifts or so.

    Shouldn't take all that long just don't floor the clutch when moving, a quick stab on the pedal is all it takes.

    Then you will have the basics to learn to float the gears..............
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  11. Lav-25

    Lav-25 Medium Load Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    What was already said .
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