Taking CDL test in 2 weeks, need some help downshifting quickly

Discussion in 'Trucking Schools and CDL Training Forum' started by jk1985, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. jk1985

    jk1985 Bobtail Member

    Oct 5, 2019
    So the time is almost here and I am going to be taking my CDL test in about 2 weeks. I am practicing for the test and one area I still have a concern is downshifting quickly before a turn and or stop.

    My issue is say when I am getting off the freeway I have a very short distance to downshift to move over into the right most lane for a left turn. Coming from the freeway I’m doing about 50mph when I come to the off ramp. I have about 1 blocks worth or distance to downshift from 10th to 4-5th, I can’t downshift and slow down before the off ramp I have been instructed because that would be considered obstructing traffic. I want to downshift smoothly and I can accomplish this by pressing the service brake hard to slow me enough to downshift quickly but my concern is that I am slowing too much and obstructing traffic which is an automatic fail. I could downshift to say 8-7th in time and then push in the clutch half way and come to a stop if the light is red, but if the light happens to be green and I could go I don’t have enough time I feel to down shift to say 4-5th for the turn.

    I have been practicing skipping a gear when downshifting and hav been able to do it, my issue with that is sometimes I don’t slow down enough and I can’t get into the gear I want so I have to go back to the gear I started with and downshift 1 gear which ends up just wasting time.

    I would appreciate any help I could get, I want to be as prepared as I can for my test.
  2. FozzyNOK

    FozzyNOK Road Train Member

    Jul 18, 2007
    BRAKES BRAKES BRAKES! This is very common for new folks.. you have to really get on the brakes firmly to get the roadspeed and RPM's down. If you know the RPM range between gears, that helps a lot. All downshifts can be made exactly the same.. You HAVE to how the RPM you start the downshift in to make the shift easier. If there is 300 RPM between the gear, DRAG the speed and RPM down to a set point ( say 1000 RPM) at that point, don't dawdle, make the shift! (with your foot off the clutch) rev the 300 RPM, tap the clutch and stick in in the next lower gear. You can "double down" but you MUST rev higher.. 300 X 2 (gears) = 600 RPM. You DRAG the RPM and speed down with the brakes, firmly using the brakes takes practice. Get to your set point (1000 RPM) then off the clutch, REV 600 RPM, tap the clutch and move the shift two gear positions. This sounds really confusing.. sorry.. this is like learning to dance some weird dance.. but just knowing speed for the gears in your truck will help and knowing the RPM between each gear is super important. ALL downshifts can be made exactly the same.. drop to you set point, rev it, stick it...off the clutch and get on the brakes again.. repeat.
  3. gummy bear

    gummy bear Light Load Member

    Nov 8, 2008
    to skip shift going down, do it this way...

    1) 10th gear
    2) slow down to 1200 RPMs
    3) clutch to neutral
    4) rev the RPMs to 1600
    5) clutch into 9th
    6) slow down to 600 RPMs (maybe 700 RPMs depending on the truck)
    7) clutch to neutral
    8) rev the RPMs to 1200
    9) clutch into 7th
    10) selector switch down
    11) slow down to 600 RPMs
    12) clutch to neutral
    13) rev the RPMs to 1200
    14) clutch into 5th
  4. x1Heavy

    x1Heavy Road Train Member

    Mar 5, 2016
    White County, Arkansas
    Don't bother downshifting much.

    IF a short ramp 50 mph down to 10 or whatever, Get on your service brake. Apply 30 pounds and impose a pretty good steady slowdown.

    Your RPMs will fall down to idle in top gear or wahtever it was. Take her out and by now you might be at 30 and dropping. Put her into 5th high with a little fuel. And maintain the service braking. That means you will have a dance there for a bit of two step...

    She should come down to 10 for the worst of that ramp by now your 5th will be at idle and it should be pretty easy to tap fuel and pick say 2nd. It should almost fall in. But shifting is the least of your worries.


    Revisit the issue.

    On a exit ramp of a interstate you see a post with 3 reflectors. Then two and one. At the distance of the post with two reflectors throw your signal on, your jacobs and work down your shifting tree. Go change lanes into the decel about 5th high. Then get on your service brake until your engine is pulled to idle going into the ramp, Gently pick a suitable low range gear.

    No fuss, no drama and especially control of your speed.
  5. jk1985

    jk1985 Bobtail Member

    Oct 5, 2019
    Just an update-

    I took my cdl test yesterday and passed! I did great on the pre trip, didn’t have any points in the backing, and got 14 points for the road test.

    Thanks for all the help everyone! I will be going to the dmv next week to get my paper copy of my cdl!
    FoolsErrand and x1Heavy Thank this.
  6. quatto

    quatto Medium Load Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    The Bluest State
    Congratulations ! Now you can go out there into the real world and learn how to be a trucker.
    LondRanger, tscottme and x1Heavy Thank this.
  7. ArcticWolves

    ArcticWolves Light Load Member

    Sep 6, 2014
    These next few weeks are crucial for you. Pay attention and ask lots of questions. Don't be a smart ### or make any jokes because some trainers may not like that and it's off their truck you go. Also, do not be afraid to talk to your DM or DDM if you are not clicking/getting along with your trainer. That chemistry is most important towards your success. Don't let a trainer get away with saying they or you are in the sleeper berth when you're not (Modifying the e-logs). That's a huge safety violation as fatigued driving for both of you is a very serious real risk. Do not stand for a trainer telling you that you can only sleep in the top bunk when the trainer is driving it's against federal law and is another safety violation and extremely dangerous (trust me I've been that student - you go flying out of the bed on every dang dip or bump in the road making it impossible to sleep). Survive through training and you will get your own truck and then the real learning begins!! Congratulations on getting your CDL :)
  8. gummy bear

    gummy bear Light Load Member

    Nov 8, 2008
    There's no federal law against sleeping in the top bunk of a moving truck as long as it has the proper restraints. But, like you mentioned and I will paraphrase, a trainer is dumber than snot (but coming out of the other end) for even thinking about suggesting a student sleeps in the top bunk when the truck's in motion
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