Starting Out With An Automatic

Topic 13853 | Page 1

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18 Wheels of Steel's Comment
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The company that I'm about to start with, May, is moving to an all automatic fleet. Chances are extremely good that I will wind up in one once I solo out. (At least it'll be brand new!) I'm not exactly excited about it, but with more and more OTR companies moving in this direction there doesn't seem to be much sense in fighting it. Especially if this latest generation of Autos proves to be reliable.

I trained on a manual at Baker College and road tested in one. Michigan will give you a restriction for Automatic only if you don't road test in a manual, which is why Baker trains and road tests with manuals. I was OK at it, not great but not terrible either. I would miss a gear occasionally, but was pretty good at using the throttle and stick to feel for the gear and find it again. I'm sure that it's something that I would be able to pick back up again after a few years off but what really matters is what the company thinks.

My question is, how will this affect my future employment prospects if I decide to go local or work for a different company who exclusively uses manuals?

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Errol V.'s Comment
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About a century ago, there were some teamsters (small 't'*) that insisted that for city work, nothing beat a team of mules. Mules were more responsive around the newer automobiles, and were easy to maintain - you just feed them.

Well, gasoline powered trucks still won out. The teamsters' work got less and less until all they could do is go around neighborhoods with a mule, and sell photos of kids sitting on the mule, wearing a cowboy hat.

Moral of this story: go automatic, say goodbye to the clutch. Your career will thank you for it.

I had to switch to automatic two weeks ago. Manuals have their advantages, but on highways, hills and warehouse docks, automatics win.

* Originally "teamsters" drove teams of horses: "Teamsters". A team of horses or mules is two or more in harness.

Sam H.'s Comment
member avatar

What terminal are you training at? I'm going to Pensacola on the 19th and I'm hoping for an auto. Did you say you would be getting a new one? I'll cross my fingers and hope for the same thing. Good luck and safe driving.

Sam

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Steve L.'s Comment
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What terminal are you training at? I'm going to Pensacola on the 19th and I'm hoping for an auto. Did you say you would be getting a new one? I'll cross my fingers and hope for the same thing. Good luck and safe driving.

Sam

That "terminal" is literally less than a mile from my house. Although I don't drive for them, they were super nice and helpful when I dropped in to ask questions.

Good luck!

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

18 Wheels of Steel's Comment
member avatar

What terminal are you training at? I'm going to Pensacola on the 19th and I'm hoping for an auto. Did you say you would be getting a new one? I'll cross my fingers and hope for the same thing. Good luck and safe driving.

Sam

About a century ago, there were some teamsters (small 't'*) that insisted that for city work, nothing beat a team of mules. Mules were more responsive around the newer automobiles, and were easy to maintain - you just feed them.

Well, gasoline powered trucks still won out. The teamsters' work got less and less until all they could do is go around neighborhoods with a mule, and sell photos of kids sitting on the mule, wearing a cowboy hat.

Moral of this story: go automatic, say goodbye to the clutch. Your career will thank you for it.

I had to switch to automatic two weeks ago. Manuals have their advantages, but on highways, hills and warehouse docks, automatics win.

* Originally "teamsters" drove teams of horses: "Teamsters". A team of horses or mules is two or more in harness.

I did my orientation in Gary, Indiana. I'm back at home now until a trainer becomes available. I'm not 100% sure what I will get, but every new truck they order is going to have an automatic. It also sounded like there are far more autos available than manuals, so the odds are heavily in favor of winding up with a new automatic once soloing out, in my estimation. That doesn't take into account what you will drive while teamed with a trainer. You might wind up doing your training time in a manual until you solo out.

I had hoped for a manual at least for a couple years, if only to cement my manual driving skill. However, between my research, plus what Errol said, it might not be a relevant skill beyond the next several years.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

ChickieMonster's Comment
member avatar

I personally love the automatic. I learned how to drive on a 10 speed but I went to TransAm who runs automatics exclusively. It takes shifting out of the equation (obviously) which allows more of your focus to go towards the road and people around you.

Comparing the two, I will probably never go back to a manual. As far as future prospects, if you were to go to a company that uses manuals they may send you out with a trainer for a couple weeks until you get used to it again.

N/A's Comment
member avatar

About a century ago, there were some teamsters (small 't'*) that insisted that for city work, nothing beat a team of mules. Mules were more responsive around the newer automobiles, and were easy to maintain - you just feed them.

Well, gasoline powered trucks still won out. The teamsters' work got less and less until all they could do is go around neighborhoods with a mule, and sell photos of kids sitting on the mule, wearing a cowboy hat.

Moral of this story: go automatic, say goodbye to the clutch. Your career will thank you for it.

I had to switch to automatic two weeks ago. Manuals have their advantages, but on highways, hills and warehouse docks, automatics win.

* Originally "teamsters" drove teams of horses: "Teamsters". A team of horses or mules is two or more in harness.

I'm coming to Swift a week from Monday. Are the new guys getting manuals, or do they still have a few manuals to give out? I'm not biased either way, just curious because I've heard/read the rumor that Swift will be at a 100% automatic fleet by 2017.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Not rumor, but my observation: all new tractors seem to be automatics.

As for what kind of tractor you may get, I bet it's almost random. For my first truck I actually had a choice (KW or Volvo), but that was simply because the assignment office had most than one (I took the Kenny).

N/A's Comment
member avatar

Not rumor, but my observation: all new tractors seem to be automatics.

As for what kind of tractor you may get, I bet it's almost random. For my first truck I actually had a choice (KW or Volvo), but that was simply because the assignment office had most than one (I took the Kenny).

10-4, good buddy! I'd probably take the Kenny, too. They make you look "cooler".

N/A's Comment
member avatar

But they say the Volvo is "the Rolls-Royce of trucking". Not sure if any truth can be found in that quote or not.

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