In Truck Driving School, Need Some Clarification On Up Shifting And Downshifting For Test

Topic 26489 | Page 1

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Jake B.'s Comment
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I am currently attending an 8 week class for cdl class a in Wisconsin and am enjoying it very much so far. We have 1 main instructor but have about a dozen or so rotating instructors that go on the road with us and help us with all aspects of driving.

One point of confusion I am having is that all the instructors give different instructions for up shifting & down shifting. Some instructors say that I can start out in 3rd gear with an empty trailer at from a stop. Other instructors say only start out in 2nd gear. Some say I can press on the gas a little while letting off the clutch when upshifting but others say under no circumstance should I do that.

I don’t want to do anything that will fail me when I take the road test so I was hoping to get some help and information from the community.

1) can I start out in 3rd or even 4th gear when starting from a stop light with an empty trailer?

2) can I skip 1 gear up shifting? Say I am going to make a turn and want to be in 4th or 5th, can I skip from 2nd to 4th or 3rd to 5th?

3) when downshifting, can I skip 1 gear? I am still new so I am not comfortable being in 9th gear and having to downshift to 6th in a short amount of time. I don’t want to impede traffic by going too slow by downshifting too far in advance and fail the test by impeding traffic.

I’d appreciate and help and clarification I could get. Thank you very much.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Errol V.'s Comment
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It's sad when instructors can't stay consistent with each other. (I can say that - I run a small CDL school.)

Keep in mind the one person you need to keep happy is the CDL examiner. And don't really sweat that, they really do want you to pass the test. My version of answers point in that direction.

1) Start in lower gears, even first. Do what your instructors ask while you're with them, but starting in low gears keeps you from stalling out. (Stalling on your test may fail you out.)

2) Be careful in skipping gears. "Losing" your shift so that you have to stop in traffic to get into a gear is a no-no also. Also, during your test, -> ALWAYS <- double clutch. So-called gliding gears can also end your test. (That's not using the clutch at all - it's often done on the road but never do it in a test situation.)

3) As with Q#2, the main thing is to not lose track of your shifting. The quick shifting you describe should not come up during your road test.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Jake, Errol is spot on. Just go through your progressions and don't skip gears. In Wisconsin, stalling is an automatic fail. I never started in first gear, rarely in second, third gear most of the time. There's a technique called "idle shifting" that I was taught in Schneider training that I used, you go from second to forth without using the accelerator. Maybe someone else can elaborate on that. Also, most CDL examiners are pretty lenient about shifting, especially downshifting. They know the new drivers are not going to get through the test without grinding some gears. (Unless you draw some hard a** examiner like the lady in Beaver Dam, WI).

I wish I could tell you more, but I got put into an Autoshift before I mastered a manual.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Jake B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the replies! My instructors do have me double clutch when shifting and I can do that without grinding gears too much. I am still new so I know it comes with time and practice. I am just getting myself worked up about passing the test.

I know one of my problems is when I’m in 9th gear doing about 40-45 mph and need to come to a stop. I either find myself down shifting too early or waiting too long and need to shift down to 6th quickly. My instructors have us downshift to 6th gear then push in the clutch halfway and come to a stop with the brake pedal. I was told that going too slow can be an automatic fail since I would be impeding the flow of traffic so I am just trying to find a balance of giving myself enough time to downshift but also not doing it way too early and slowing traffic.

To avoid stalling out from a stop in say 3rd gear, would I hold the brake pedal and ease off the clutch until I see the tractor lean right, then let off the brake and then ease on the gas while I slowly let off the clutch the rest of the way?

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Jake overthinks:

To avoid stalling out from a stop in say 3rd gear, would I hold the brake pedal and ease off the clutch until I see the tractor lean right, then let off the brake and then ease on the gas while I slowly let off the clutch the rest of the way?

I know when you're starting out in shifting gears, you need to follow steps and try not to mess up. Sooner or later, though, it becomes seat of the pants. You'll feel & hear the engine speed and learn to do what's necessary for smooth operation.

There part I quoted here is actually simplicity. At the stop (brakes engaged, clutch in), first do let off the clutch till you feel/hear the engine slow that tiny bit. Once the engine has it, right foot moves from brake to accelerator to take over. Left foot off the clutch, till the next shift point, and so on. You got it!

Banks's Comment
member avatar

When I'm down shifting I focus on my speed.

I drop to to 9 at 40 To 8 at 30 To 7 at 20 And 6 at 15

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

With a empty trailer I would start in 3rd gear, do not skip gears on the test in Illinois it was a automatic failure they wanted to see you go through as many gears in the right order as possible. Once you pass your test and are out with a company you can skip.

You'll get it just listen to your instructors and figure out which one of their techniques fits your style.

Aubrey M.'s Comment
member avatar

Take off in whatever gear gets the truck moving without giving it fuel. That is usually 3rd with a ten speed and an empty trailer.

How can you impede traffic that is stopping at the same time as you? It's much more important to stop safely and smoothly, so concentrate on that at first.... And slower is always better than too fast.

If a light catches you and you have to stop quickly you can't always downshift, so stay in the gear you're in, brake until the engine chokes way down without bucking, and push in the clutch as you come to a stop. Even if your in 9th you should be able to almost stop before clutching and coasting to a stop. You will certainly only have to coast less than a truck length. Wait until you are completely stopped, hit your range selector and shift to third so you are ready to take off again. Doing this you've stayed in control of the truck instead of possibly missing a gear and coasting too far out of gear. Downshift when you have time though To whatever gear you can make it to comfortably.

Turns are really the only place where you have to worry about getting to the low side so you can go slow and controlled as well as smoothly accelerate out of the turn all while keeping both hands on the steering wheel when not shifting.

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