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Manual Transmission vs Automatic - Semi Truck Transmissions

September 16, 2015

Semi Truck Transmissions in Ormond Beach For many new truck drivers in Ormond Beach, Florida, one of the most intimidating parts of becoming a trucker is learning how to drive using a semi truck's manual transmission. With the growing popularity of automatic transmissions in new semi trucks, many are wondering if learning to drive a manual is even a necessary skill at all. All of this begs the question: should you buy a used truck with an automatic, or should you stick to the tried-and-true manual transmission? To understand this debate, it helps to know the differences between manuals and automatics in semi trucks and the advantages and disadvantages each one has.

Manual Transmissions

Chances are you learned on and feel comfortable with a manual transmission if you're an experienced truck driver or have been in the industry for more than a few years. There are many reasons manuals were, and still are, used on commercial trucks. Some of the chief advantages of manual transmissions in semi trucks are:

Automatic Transmissions

For newer drivers or those driving for fleets, you probably have at least some experience driving a truck equipped with an automatic transmission. More and more trucks each year are being spec'd with automatics instead of manuals, and there are a few good reasons why:

Which Transmission is Right for You?

It can be tough to decide between trucks with automatics or manuals, especially when every driver and fleet owner has their own opinion. Many experienced drivers see automatics as a crutch for incompetent newbies, while manufacturers and fleet owners see manuals as inefficient and outdated.

The only way to really choose which one is right for you is to try them both and see which one you like more. You shouldn't be intimidated to learn a manual transmission if you're a new driver. It's a good skill to have that will make you a more capable and valuable employee or a more experienced owner-operator. Most CDL schools still teach new drivers on manual transmissions, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to learn.

On the other hand, if you're an experienced driver who wrote off early automatics because of their complexity and cost, it might be time to give them another look. Newer automatics can shift faster and more accurately than even the most experienced driver, and their mechanical advantages - such as torque converters to prevent rollbacks on hill starts and the ability to keep your foot on the throttle through gear changes - can pay for themselves in increased productivity and economy.

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