Manual VS. Automatic

Discussion in 'General Tow Rig Discussion' started by miniwally, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. miniwally

    miniwally Well-Known Member

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    Okay now that we have 1 fewer people to hose up these threads I have this question.

    I bought my truck to tow my trailer with my buggy or snowmobile on. I just happen to not be rich and need to drive it everyday. So I have the Dmax Allison combo. The truck has it's good points and it's not so good points.

    If I was to buy a tow rig only I probably would have looked real hard at manual trannies. Not sure what brand of truck but manual would have become more of an option.

    The old deal is that Manuals are better for towing because blah blah blah. Read I can't think of why now so blah.
    I have heard a few people that are not in the truck world say they have been told that autos are what to tow with because they don't shock the drivetrain like a manual can.

    So which is better and try to back up the argument with valid sources if possible.
    I know that longevity of the tranny is going to get mentioned here so lets play like both trannies are going to last 250,000 miles with only normal care. So now it can not be said that the auto will die before the manual. They will die at the same time.

    Discuss :stir: :popcorn:
     
  2. willyswanter

    willyswanter Well-Known Member

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    Well heres my story, I've towed with an auto dodge, an auto chevy, and my manual dodge. I prefer the manual for towing simply because I like being able to hold a gear indefinately. When I drove the dodge auto pulling my gooseneck with my chevy on it up hills I would try and get it to hold in a lower gear to keep rpm's up but it would constantly try and shift up so it was "hunting" gears the whole time which we all know is hell for a tranny. This is why I opted for a manual because I can put the truck in 3rd gear and hold 3000 rpm up a hill for 30 minutes with no worries. With the auto I would try to hold 3rd or 2nd and I would finally get my momentum up and try to get around a semi and the truck would shift and splat, back behind the semi cause I can't accelerate.

    The chevy auto was a 4l80e towing about 12,000 pounds continously every weekend with no problems but still had the hunting gears problem. I have never driven an Allison truck, just ridden in them and never on any big hills that would negate holding a lower gear. So I can't comment on the tow/haul modes and such, I know the Alli can down shift to help when descending grades which is another reason I like a manual better.

    And last, I've read that alot of people have problems with there auto's when combined with an exhaust brake. The exhaust brake is only effective when the torque converter is locked and if the brake is used excessively it causes major heat in the tranny. With my manual I can down shift into 4th and leave the brake on all the way down miles upon miles of hills and the truck will stay at 55 no matter what the grade is with no service brake input at all. The dodge auto I towed with had an exhaust brake and it only worked 1/2 the time since the torque converter would unlock in certain situations.
     
  3. joez

    joez Well-Known Member

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    I prefer driving and wheeling with a manual hands down. But when towing something rather large, auto's make it so much easier and are generally a lot smoother, until they start hunting that is. If i was just towing on the highway and whatnot, i would probobally end up with a manual rig. But, doing a lot of boat towing, dealing with bad launch ramps, ect, i will most likely end up with an auto. I see advantages and dissadvantages to both, and depending on whats for sale when im looking i could end up with either, but I'm leaning towards an auto.
     
  4. Shaggy

    Shaggy TRC Staff Moderator

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    Jason pretty well nailed my reasoning.

    Nothing that I have to say is anything other than opinion.

    I've never towed with an Allison and I've heard that they're great, but for my money I can shift just as well as an Allison, maybe even better. I enjoy selecting my own gears and like the feeling of being fully in control of a vehicle, it's a machine and I am it's master (sounds like I have an ego problem!rotfl ). In a vehicle with an auto trans I always feel like I'm just sort of along for the ride, point and shoot, so to speak. The manual trans gives me control, I want it to downshift, I downshift, I don't have to push a button or blip the throttle or tap the brake or whatever, I just downshift. I want to upshift then I upshift, I want to coast and I coast.

    The extra couple MPG and the $1500 savings on the window sticker are nice too.:D

    I have to admit that I like the manual for the different factor too. Everyone has autos these days; I drove to lunch today with some co-workers and one guy that went with me couldn't beleive that I got a manual, it's like he thought just because it's a really big truck that a manual trans doesn't work like a manual trans. Sure you can't speed shift it, but it still works the same. Plus it sounds cool when the turbo spools up after each shift. Same thing when I picked it up, one sales guy said "Man, that's a sweet truck! You got everything in it! But why didn't you get an auto?" I told him I prefer the stick and he said "Oh, well, I mean, it's still a nice truck." like he was trying to convince me or something. To me one of the coolest things about it is that it's a stick.

    The ONLY argument that an auto has over a stick in my book is that it's easier to drive and is faster in a drag race. Neither of those are valid arguments to me.:stir:
     
  5. Burt4x4

    Burt4x4 Well-Known Member

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    Disclaimer ~ I have never towed a load bigger than a fishing boat.

    I am a manual guy when it comes to wheelin and my D-Max is the first auto I have ever bought (besides the wifes car).
    I remember allways reading about how a slush box will easily over heat and if the fluid gets anykind of debris in it at all the tranny will fail or be damaged. So I've allways had this impression the autos were high maintenace and unreliable when used in extream situations. I have also heard/read about the 'hunting' situation that willyswanter is talkin about and not having controll over the tranny.

    Why did I buy an auto for my towrig? Hmmm well I guess I wanted to give the Allison an opertunity to prove that things can change and evolution of the slush box has reached a new level within towrigs AND I want to drive and drive and drive until I get to Moab from Cali:D ya ya I'm getting old too hehehehe
     
  6. FordCummins1

    FordCummins1 Well-Known Member

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    Who is the "1 fewer" that we lost?
     
  7. RJF's Red Cummins

    RJF's Red Cummins TRC Staff Moderator

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    I take it you didn't manually keep it in a certain gear? The first thing I was taught about towing is when pulling a hill you manually pull the shifter down to the gear it is pulling the best in so it doesn't shift back and forth. If you can't pull in 3rd, pull it down to second and it shouldn't shift. The shifter that is.
     
  8. Shaggy

    Shaggy TRC Staff Moderator

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    It will be clear to you pretty soon, just look for the lack of posts by someone that generally just mucks up threads.:D
     
  9. willyswanter

    willyswanter Well-Known Member

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    Well I had OD turned off and dropped it into 2nd but it would still upshift if the rpm's got torwards red line. Plus the 4 speed makes 2nd too low and 3rd too high...
     
  10. miniwally

    miniwally Well-Known Member

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    Okay on the hunting deal for autos.

    I know and completly understand hunting, my Ford did it on the drive through the little tow I live in between overdrive and drive. I had to lock it out of overdrive with the button on the end of the shifter. E4OD Ford did one thing that I thought was cool with their trans. and that was to make 2nd gear sort of manual ie. with shifter in 1st only 1st as normal, with shifter in 2nd it was locked in second meaning it did not shift down to first ever. third was just like an auto and then you could lock out overdrive.
    This kept hunting to a minimum.

    With the Allison you have 1, 2, 3, D, and overdrive. By pushing the button and holding for a second you lock out overdrive and go to I assume 1:1 drive. from there you have to think about gears and just down shift.

    I doubt that it is as good as a manual but gets you close. The above reasons about gear selection with a manual are exactly what I belive makes the manual better in towing situations.

    I am just a little lazy and got tired of shifting gears with other trucks. Now I have an Auto.

    I already feel that this discussion is better with the lack of certain input.
     
  11. TARussell

    TARussell Well-Known Member

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    I have always preferred a manual tranny in a truck that gets worked . That being said I believe there are plenty of applications for an auto tranny in certain trucks too . To me it all depends on the motor/tranny/gear combo as to how well it will all work.

    The main reason I like a manual tranny is that the driver has more input on what RPM is used and more manipulation(sp) of the power band of the engine.
    When towing fairly heavy loads the manaul tranny gear splits ( I am speaking of a well spaced out six speed ) keep the motor in a real nice power range if shifted correctly where as an auto tranny ( most of what is available today ) lets the motor drop off a little too far to feel good throughout the whole excelleration process.
    I believe that the driver can have major input on the life of each tranny by thier driving habbits. It's all in how much common sense and care is practiced while driving and selecting the right gear at the right time and speed , along with not letting the engine harmonics beat the tranny's to death by being in to high of a gear at to low of an RPM .
    This is just my opinion....
    Tom
     
  12. BadDog

    BadDog TRC Staff Staff Member

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    I don't really have much to add other than stuff already stated and the obvious.

    Manual allows total control of rpm ranges so you can keep it in the "sweet spot". As long as the driver knows what he is doing, this rpm control along with less parasitic loss leads to better fuel mileage. They are simple with often have less maintenance and are generally cheaper, but not always.

    However, all is not perfect in the world of manuals. Many "modern manuals" are known to have problems such as the GM dual mass issues, OD nuts and synchros in the NV4500, slave cylinder failures due to heat damage, and so on.

    Another major down side is the loss of "turbo spool" (and resulting power) and small loss of momentum when shifting, and the requirement for more driver attention and interaction. This requirement for driver attention could actually be argued to distract from the driver's attention on external details as well as becoming a "chore" when frequently dealing with city traffic problems. And of course there are those of us whose life experiences have left us with less than full use of our legs, so shifting becomes a real chore and quite literally, a pain.

    Autos shift faster than humanly possible and keep the engine loaded constantly (for all practical purposes) so there are no "turbo spool" issues. The converter provides for smooth application of power and the so called "torque multiplication" at lower rpms along with the subsequent heat issues that result. The "automatic" shift also reduces shock impact on the drive train that would result from "jamming gears" manually. Modern transmissions like the Allison also have their own TCM that communicates with the ECM to keep the transmission and engine working together to provide optimal operations far beyond what would be possible by even the most attentive driver. That leaves more brain capacity to devote to actual driving, but that assumes you don't squander it talking on a cell phone or fall victim to "road hypnosis". The Allison is also quite capable of towing in OD which is better than any other auto or most manuals can say. Obviously this is good to keep the Diesel engine its "power band" while moving on up and over hills at speed.

    But again, all is not rosy with autos. Initial purchase cost is generally higher. Maintenance overhead is generally going to be higher and repairs if necessary generally run higher, and may be MUCH higher, but not always. They also tend to be more prone to suffering from excessive power input in stock form, though paradoxically they can be built to handle more ultimate power than most manuals available in LD trucks (primarily due to strong aftermarket support in the racing and pulling community). They also have "parasitic" losses associated with their operation, and this loss is most apparent in the resulting "heat" problem requiring auxiliary cooling for heavy use.

    Hmm, I'm sure I've missed things, but that's all I can think of now. Back to the shop…
     
  13. RJF's Red Cummins

    RJF's Red Cummins TRC Staff Moderator

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    Hmm, interesting. I thought that was the reason for the gear selector on the autos, so you could manually hold the tranny from up shifting. If thats the case they should have just put "P" "R" and "D".:rolleyes: I'll have to see if mine shifts into third when in manual second tommorrow.
     
  14. FordCummins1

    FordCummins1 Well-Known Member

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    HAHA, well put. Its clear as day now.
     
  15. willyswanter

    willyswanter Well-Known Member

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    I know my chevy did the same thing, if you approach red line the computer shifts to keep the engine alive and happy. But with my dodge it pulls best up grades at red line :cool:
     

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