Question Should I Train On Manuals Or Automatics

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Jay F.'s Comment
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So today at school, I was informed I would be given the choice of training and testing on my choice of manual or auto’s the instructor said it was our choice but he recommends auto.

What do you guys think?

Errol V.'s Comment
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Jay, the trucking industry is in a big transition from manual shift to automatic shift. The future is in automatic of course. So, going that route will not hurt you in getting an OTR driving job. You will end up with a restriction of "automatic only", but most trucks will be that way - no loss to your career.

Others may say learn the manual shift (restriction free endorsement) so you aren't limited in what you can drive. But as I said, that is almost meaningless now. Some might want to tell you "you lose control over your power/driving if you don't have a clutch". That issue is so minor it's not worth the time. Automatic shifting would not be a choice if there were problems even in mountain driving.

The biggest benefit of automatic shift in my opinion is you don't have to learn how to coordinate your hands and feet for double-clutch shifting. (Trouble with this can fail your CDL road test.) Remember "big truck" transmissions aren't as easy to shift as even automobile manual shifts. (I learned with the manual shift, and taught drivers in both so I know & have experienced the differences.)

Bottom line: I wouldn't worry about it. Go with the automatic shift.

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.

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.

PJ's Comment
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I have a different take for only one reason. The restriction on your license. Your license will most likely be with you much longer than any one company. The big carriers are moving toward auto only, however smaller companies and private fleets aren’t. You may get a chance to go to a smaller company at some point and that restriction will be an issue. You would have to retest in a manual to get it removed.

My girlfriend went to cdl school a year ago. They offered both. Luckily she tested in the manual. She has decided she wants to move on next month and she is coming to work for me. My truck is a manual. If she had that restriction I would have to teach her and she would have to road test before she could drive my truck.

I never say never. I feel it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

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.
PackRat's Comment
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Not every state lists a manual or automatic annotation on the CDL. Nothing is shown in my state--VA.

As for what I would suggest is get trained on a manual. You never know when you're going to get an older company loaner while your truck is in the shop for a week. I think it should still be required for ALL driver's licenses. Cars, trucks, big trucks, etc.

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.
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

Personally I say if you have the option take the manual, that way you are not limited. Most companies are going or have gone to Autos but it doesn't hurt to be trained on a manual

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

I too vote for the manual, if you think you can figure it out. It really isn't all that difficult, and why have a restriction on your license if you can avoid it?

As mentioned, most Megas are fully auto-shift by now. But there are still fleets out there that operate manuals, and you never know what the future may hold for you.

It's a once and done test. If you're giving the option, take the manual.

Jay F.'s Comment
member avatar

I too vote for the manual, if you think you can figure it out. It really isn't all that difficult, and why have a restriction on your license if you can avoid it?

As mentioned, most Megas are fully auto-shift by now. But there are still fleets out there that operate manuals, and you never know what the future may hold for you.

It's a once and done test. If you're giving the option, take the manual.

Thanks for the replies. I’ve driven manual cars all my life, but the whole double clutching sounds scary. I’m sure I could do it. The instructor made it seem much harder

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.

Double Clutching:

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
Thanks for the replies. I’ve driven manual cars all my life, but the whole double clutching sounds scary. I’m sure I could do it. The instructor made it seem much harder

It's not scary. It's more that you need to develop coordination of the pat your head/rub your belly kind. Thousands of Trucking students learn it every year. You can be one of them

I'll repeat my suggestion: I vote for automatic, your career will do well in spite of the restriction.

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.

Double Clutching:

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.

Bird-one's Comment
member avatar

To be honest Jay it's not too hard to pick up. I never drove anything clutch period prior too learning. And haven't double clutched since school. Eventually you'll learn to float.

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.

Navypoppop's Comment
member avatar

I too vote for manual. Even if the industry goes auto you do not need any restrictions on your license. Imagine if your truck broke down and a rental was issued that had a manual transmission. You would not be qualified to drive it because of the restriction. Thus you could lose pay and valuable time over that restriction. I am glad that I never had that auto only on my license.

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