Automatic Vs. Manual Transmissions

Topic 4109 | Page 1

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Silverbolt's Comment
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I was just curious as to how common automatic transmissions are in rigs which are designed and expected to pull heavy loads on a regular basis. I don't know a lot about auto mechanics, but I was under the impression that heavy loads would be too taxing on an automatic transmission. And to be sure, I have a good deal of experience with manuals (in fact, the very first vehicle I ever learned to drive was a stick shift), so I'm not afraid of a clutch. But they can be very tiring in extensive stop-and-go traffic. I'm just curious what modern trucks out there are like; I'll drive whatever I'm assigned without a complaint, as long as it's not constantly breaking down.

Cheers.

Eric G.'s Comment
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I've heard automatic trannys are hard to move a trailer back due to the need to accelerate.

Heavy C's Comment
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We have one automatic in our fleet that I have driven. It drivers like a Cadillac! Now we don't pull very heavy loads but it has no trouble with what we do pull. And backing up is super easy. You do have to give a little throttle but not so much that you can't control anything. In a way it's a little easier because you don't have to manipulate a clutch. I love out ten speeds but if they have me drive the auto I will gladly do it.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I drove a standard for about 9 years and drove an automatic for about 6 years. The automatics are really fantastic to drive, but they were prone to breakdowns a few times a year. Usually simple stuff, but it completely disables the truck most of the time if there's a problem.

But I can tell you - a lot of people have misconceptions about automatics - you can't back up as easily, you can't go up or down hills in the gear you want to be in, they're tougher to control on slick roads, and all kinds of stuff. The only disadvantage I felt they had was reliability. They're going to break down a few times a year. At least they used to. Maybe they're getting better now. But you have just as much control as you do with a standard and they're soooooo much easier to drive in stop and go traffic and the mountains.

Don't be afraid of automatics. They're really nice to drive. That doesn't mean everyone on Earth will prefer them to standards. But you shouldn't shy away from them if you find a company you like and that's what they have.

ATXJEHU's Comment
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Occasionally, I am assigned a truck (late model Freightliner Cascadia) with an automatic and I don't like it, although some drivers do like it just fine. If I had to drive it all of the time, it would probably be more tolerable. The biggest gripe for me is lack of control when backing to a dock. This particular automatic has a "slack" space when in gear while at idle and/or low rpm. When the gear finally engages, it has a "slingshot" effect that suddenly accelerates the rig for a few feet. I find it almost impossible to feather or finesse the brake during those episodes. The result is frequently slamming into the dock and bouncing away. My solution has been, when a few feet away from the dock, is to hold the brake until the gear engages, then ease off the brake and try to reduce the dock "bump". This also tends to use up your air pressure rapidly and sound the low pressure alarm. Not a fun exercise.

The lurching and sudden stops may be humorous to watch, but not so for the driver. Likewise, taking off from a stop, there is the delay and, if you are on an upward incline, you best keep your foot on the brake until the gear engages or you will be rolling backward. Also, you have to be extra cautious about pulling out into cross traffic, because the gears do not always shift as quickly as you would expect and you may find yourself impeding traffic.

On the plus side, I find that the automatic does great out on the road and, in stop and go traffic, it definitely is much easier on leg, knee and foot.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Silverbolt's Comment
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Thank you all. :) It sounds like automatics are less common, but not rare to be assigned. Hopefully I'll at least get some training on one while in school, just so I have some experience and know what to expect. Either way, thanks! thank-you-2.gif

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
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Thank you all. :) It sounds like automatics are less common, but not rare to be assigned. Hopefully I'll at least get some training on one while in school, just so I have some experience and know what to expect. Either way, thanks! thank-you-2.gif

The one place you do not want an automatic is in school. You want to at least have a working knowledge of how a truck shifts in trucks that are junk. They shift a lot differently the a car or pickup. Beside if you don't learn to shift while in school you might end up in a lease op training truck and that will not go good at all. And if your unluckily enough to do your driving test in an automatic then you get a restriction put on your cdl and can only drive autos.

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.
Silverbolt's Comment
member avatar

The one place you do not want an automatic is in school. You want to at least have a working knowledge of how a truck shifts in trucks that are junk. They shift a lot differently the a car or pickup. Beside if you don't learn to shift while in school you might end up in a lease op training truck and that will not go good at all. And if your unluckily enough to do your driving test in an automatic then you get a restriction put on your cdl and can only drive autos.

Well, I meant like maybe one day at the most. I already know that learning how to shift well is absolutely paramount to success in this career, and it's a big chunk of one's score when taking the test. I was just assuming that at the academy they would want to at least expose prospective drivers to just about anything they're likely to encounter when solo, at least once.

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.
guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
member avatar

More to do with what they can afford to buy to train students in. Automatic trucks will cost a bit more so most schools don't waste their time with them since most times they are not used to test in.

In school the only thing they teach you is how to past the cdl test. Not much else. Their one and only job is to help you get your cdl. Nothing more. You will learn to drive and learn about training once you get on to your first company and into a truck with a trainer.

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.
mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

But I can tell you - a lot of people have misconceptions about automatics:

*you can't back up as easily,

*you can't go up or down hills in the gear you want to be in,

*they're tougher to control on slick roads, and all kinds of stuff.

Okay, so these are the common misconceptions. Cool. Thanks

-mountain girl

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