Automatic Versus Manual Transmissions: My Experience Thus Far

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Unholychaos's Comment
member avatar

We have a couple freightliner automatics I've driven and I definitely prefer the manual while backing. In the automatic I've noticed that if I push lightly on the pedal it still lunges but not as bad. My biggest dislike is that I need to use the fuel pedal while backing. I'd estimate 90% of my time is spent in the city so I definitely prefer automatic overall, however the backing has taken some getting used to.

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Sorry it has taken so long to respond, running alot. The international automated is difficult in reverse, drove one a couple times, it does have the rev and then launch backwards. I know that I will adapt to it, it's just irritating. CWC is correct that you will almost always favor what you learned on.

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That lunge is called "creep mode" and I'd have to admit that, if I could have it complete disabled entirely, I would. I absolutely despise that thing! I'd rather feather the throttle myself while backing. Other than that detail, I love my automated. She does have problems with low gear shifting early on, but since it's all done by computers, I attribute that to the cold.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
∆_Danielsahn_∆'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

We have a couple freightliner automatics I've driven and I definitely prefer the manual while backing. In the automatic I've noticed that if I push lightly on the pedal it still lunges but not as bad. My biggest dislike is that I need to use the fuel pedal while backing. I'd estimate 90% of my time is spent in the city so I definitely prefer automatic overall, however the backing has taken some getting used to.

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

Sorry it has taken so long to respond, running alot. The international automated is difficult in reverse, drove one a couple times, it does have the rev and then launch backwards. I know that I will adapt to it, it's just irritating. CWC is correct that you will almost always favor what you learned on.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

That lunge is called "creep mode" and I'd have to admit that, if I could have it complete disabled entirely, I would. I absolutely despise that thing! I'd rather feather the throttle myself while backing. Other than that detail, I love my automated. She does have problems with low gear shifting early on, but since it's all done by computers, I attribute that to the cold.

Whenever I am able to get into "creep mode" I don't lunge at all. My reverse creep doesn't like to work.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
USMC AAV's Comment
member avatar

I've been trucking for 11 years and have driven both. I was one of those truckers that used to think that if you didn't drive a manual you werent a real trucker. I was wrong! Our company went to an all auto fleet over the last 4 years and when I started with them we were about 1/2 and 1/2. One thing is driving in a city is SOOO much easier. Less fatique, less grinding, and getting all worked up dealing with drivers cutting in front of you as you inch up in tight traffic. With auto's you don't deal with that. After being on an Auto for these past years I can say I prefer the Auto. I mean at the end of each day I am not as tired and my leg doesn't hurt at all. That being said, an auto is a pain to back up, until you get used to how your specific truck operates. It took me about 3 months to get used to the lag time that was needed for the gearbox to auto adjust into reverse. Once you get used to it, it is not an issue unless your in a hurry and you try to rush the electronic shifter into gear. Now, on the open road it doesnt really matter.

Some people will tell you that Auto's suck on hills or downgrades. They don't!! You have to get used to your truck and KNOW your truck. Auto's do perform differently then manuals going on a downgrade because the auto's adjust themselves differently. The trick I use is a the "jake", use it when your RPM's get to that sweet spot before the auto gear box ups you to another gear. It works for me all the time and I deal with hills all the time in the Blueridge mountains since I haul mainly building materials.

Driving an Auto doesnt make you less of a man or a driver. Many of the big box companies are going all auto's and several are already there. A few companies like TMC and McElroy who swore up and down that they would NEVER go to auto's are getting them now. The main reason from what I have seen is they last longer and fuel economy goes way up. I mean I average 8.6 MPG last quarter, and I have had months where my Average was as high as 9.1. (Granted that depends on environment and weather, which do play a huge part in fuel economy). One of the biggest expenses that companies pay out is fuel.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Iron Emu's Comment
member avatar

Semper fi brother. 0311. 1/2 Charlie Co. You are correct, it doesn't make you less of a driver, and I didn't intend for it to mean that way. Everyone has their preferences, and judging from experience you would know better than me as far as longevity of advantages vs disadvantage. Most of the industry is switching over, and while at this moment I can't see those advantages of it, they have to be there. Well written.

I've been trucking for 11 years and have driven both. I was one of those truckers that used to think that if you didn't drive a manual you werent a real trucker. I was wrong! Our company went to an all auto fleet over the last 4 years and when I started with them we were about 1/2 and 1/2. One thing is driving in a city is SOOO much easier. Less fatique, less grinding, and getting all worked up dealing with drivers cutting in front of you as you inch up in tight traffic. With auto's you don't deal with that. After being on an Auto for these past years I can say I prefer the Auto. I mean at the end of each day I am not as tired and my leg doesn't hurt at all. That being said, an auto is a pain to back up, until you get used to how your specific truck operates. It took me about 3 months to get used to the lag time that was needed for the gearbox to auto adjust into reverse. Once you get used to it, it is not an issue unless your in a hurry and you try to rush the electronic shifter into gear. Now, on the open road it doesnt really matter.

Some people will tell you that Auto's suck on hills or downgrades. They don't!! You have to get used to your truck and KNOW your truck. Auto's do perform differently then manuals going on a downgrade because the auto's adjust themselves differently. The trick I use is a the "jake", use it when your RPM's get to that sweet spot before the auto gear box ups you to another gear. It works for me all the time and I deal with hills all the time in the Blueridge mountains since I haul mainly building materials.

Driving an Auto doesnt make you less of a man or a driver. Many of the big box companies are going all auto's and several are already there. A few companies like TMC and McElroy who swore up and down that they would NEVER go to auto's are getting them now. The main reason from what I have seen is they last longer and fuel economy goes way up. I mean I average 8.6 MPG last quarter, and I have had months where my Average was as high as 9.1. (Granted that depends on environment and weather, which do play a huge part in fuel economy). One of the biggest expenses that companies pay out is fuel.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Sgt. Diddly's Comment
member avatar

I hate it! Have you had the 3rd gear issue yet? The international autos are 10 times better. Still prefer a good ten speed manual though

This may have been beat to death in other posts but I did not see any, just wanted to give my honest opinion after having driven one for awhile. Driving a 2016 Freightliner Cascadia with the highly touted, and supposedly best, first transmission to be build from the ground up to be automated. In Summary, I do not like it. I would borderline to say they are dangerous.

Pros: A perfect shift every time, easier on the leg (I never considered this an issue but I've talked to some older guys that mentioned this), the Jake is my new best friend. That's about all I got to be honest.

Cons: It is buggy at low speeds (jumps around in the gearing ALOT), can't lock it in a gear for climbing or downhill (This may not be true and if I am wrong, please correct me and tell me how. Please.), the massive lag between hitting the throttle and the transmission trying to remember that it is a transmission (This is the most dangerous thing to me as the delay varies alot and if you are trying to get moving, for some reason that's a necessity, I've just sat there for as long 3 or 4 seconds while it tries to decide what it wants to do.), the fuel economy I'm experiencing is less than .2 difference in favor of the auto while having way more headaches.

I'm not enjoying this change, and it is almost enough to make me consider jumping companies if I could find one who would guarantee me a good old cog box. I probably wouldn't cause I have a degree of loyalty to a company that has treated me well in every other department, but still.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Sgt Diddly wrote in reference to an auto-shift Cascadia:

I hate it! Have you had the 3rd gear issue yet? The international autos are 10 times better. Still prefer a good ten speed manual though

We all have our preferences...and opinions...but "hate"? A rather bold announcement.

I will preface my reply with a clearly stated respect and appreciation for everyone's opinion, as long as said opinion is reasonable, based on facts, experience and/or expertise. Sorry, but exaggerated statements for effect, usually give me pause. My "pause" has been building as more replies are posted to this thread. Time for a little level setting...with the expectation my response may not be popular or resonate with everyone.

The basic componentry of truck transmissions is highly standardized and should not present "huge" operational and handling differences from one to the other (to the extent of "hating" one truck over the other). It's our job as professional drivers to quickly grasp those differences and adjust accordingly.

That said, please help me (us) understand the above quoted statement Sgt., you've had less than 4 weeks of solo experience. How on earth can you develop a hate for a state-of-the-art truck so quickly? Offer some tangible facts to support your opinion,...please (like I am).

The reason I am replying in this rather confrontational fashion is because our employers DO NOT put us in junk. Quite the contrary. I DO NOT want anyone, especially our Newbies to think or believe they need to drive a specific manufacturers truck with one specific transmission in order to be successful. Not so. The newer trucks; Volvo, KW, Int., Freightliners, etc. are incredibly efficient, technological marvels, and offer unrivaled economics/ergonomics unheard of just 10 short years ago.

I've been driving auto-shift trucks for over 3 years, all Freightliner Cascadias with the same transmissions. Love them. That is my contrary opinion, however it's backed by a depth of experience in all kinds of conditions, terrain, weight, and maneuvers. Granted, somewhat skeptical of the auto-shift in the beginning, I had to figure it out and learn all of it's a nuances. It required about 2 solid weeks in the summer to absorb 90% of the learning curve, and another few days in late fall in anticipation of the first snow. Way past that now, although I am on occasion surprised with a new quirk or characteristic.

During the transition period, I drove both 10-speeds and the auto-shift trucks; over time realizing my preference for less work and joint stress over the ego satisfaction of getting through an entire day without nary a scrubbed gear. At this point you'd have to drag me "kick in' and screaming" if I had to switch back to a "lever and pedal". For my type of work, whatever I could do in a manual, I am "at the least" able to match "same" in an auto-shift. Like any other tool, once you learn how to maximize and leverage it's effectiveness, an appretiation of higher productivity and less fatigue becomes obvious. You also develop a sense of what to expect and what also to seek the input/recommendation from a mechanic.

Not only are there subtle difference between manufactures, but also different trucks within the exact same model designation and with exact same componentry. It's all in how they are adjusted/maintained, coupled with wear and the experience level of the driver (driven, abused or somewhere in-between)

Indeed, if an International Prostar auto-shift is truly "10x better" than a Cascadia auto-shift, then by-golly it must freakin' drive itself.

Probably not...

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Sgt. Diddly's Comment
member avatar

G-Town,

My “hate it” response is just a personal opinion based on the ten speed manuals and the auto in the pro stars. In no way an attack on anyone’s preference of make, driving, or transmission preferences. In the last six months, which granted isn’t much experience, I’ve come to greatly dislike the cascades auto transmissions mainly due to the mentioned third gear issue.

The trucks and themselves are certainly not junk, quite the opposite in fact. My response was strictly aimed at my dislike for that particular quirk in the transmission.

I will be sure to curb my enthusiastic response in the future as to not rub members the wrong way.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Sgt Diddly wrote:

I will be sure to curb my enthusiastic response in the future as to not rub members the wrong way.

You missed most of my point...I didn't ask you to curb your enthusiasm. I asked you for an explanation considering the level disdain expressed.

I’ve come to greatly dislike the cascades auto transmissions mainly due to the mentioned third gear issue.

You mentioned it but have yet to explain it. In three years I haven't experienced the Cascadia's "third gear issue", so please educate me.

Iron Emu's Comment
member avatar

I believe the 3rd gear issue he may be refering to is the inability to just remain in the gear at low speed, such as pulling through a yard or parking lot. It jumps around alot and in some instances with mine the truck has stopped entirely while it tries to figure out what it wants to do.

Also update! I had a couple mentions about putting the auto in manual selection mode to correct the above issue and some hill climb/descent issue I had previously. Unfortunately their is one of 3 possibilities before me:

1) The company I work for has disabled that ability in their trucks, or at least the Cascadias, and it will not go into manual select and hold. 2) I'm retarded and can't figure it out despite following what seems like simple instructions. 3) No one on here has any idea what they are talking about.

I very seriously doubt even the plausibility of 3, the odds of so many more experienced people being wrong just seems impossible. 2 is a possibility but I hope I'm not so clueless.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PJ's Comment
member avatar

I drove 2 different auto's in my time and personally did nit like it at all. The first was a 09 Mack 10 spd auto. It would rev the engine alot higher than I ever would before it shifted. Backing with a loaded tank up or down a downgrade was very difficult due to it acting eractly in the rpm range it wanted. I thought something was wrong with it however 3 company and 2 mack mechanics could find nothing wrong. It was an eaton and Mack told me it just wasn't that great of a transmission. I drove a 14 Mack and it was a little smoother but not by much. I never complained and just dealt with it. After a few months my boss called and told me they were going to upgrade my truck and asked if I had a preference. I told him sure "anything with a manual transmission". That's just me. I did learn on a 10spd manual, but my preference is a 13 spd manual.

All that said. The equipment has to be matched to the work. I don't know how an auto would do with a heavy haul oversize load. I know depending on location the 13 struggles with our heavy haul. We have went to 18 spd's for the guys pulling those. I know pulling on flat land a normal load I get 7.0 at the speed limit with the 13 spd manual.

Just my preferencethank-you.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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