Semi Truck Automatic vs Manual Transmission: Which One?

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Semi Truck Automatic vs Manual Transmission: Which One?

Semi Truck Automatic vs Manual Transmission

Semi Truck Automatic vs Manual Transmission

  •  Semi Truck Transmission
  • May 19,2020
  • By Admin

With the sudden rise of automatic gearboxes, it’s understandable to be in the semi truck automatic vs manual transmission dilemma. For this reason, we’ll go over the pros and cons of each. That way, you can be sure to know which one to opt for.

Although many experienced drivers like to go for manual gearboxes, it’s vital to know how each performs. From convenience to fuel economy, we’ll go over every one of these aspects and much more.  

Semi Truck Automatic vs Manual Transmission: Pros and Cons of Each

Semi Truck Automatic vs Manual Gearbox

With the different semi truck transmission types out there, truck drivers and companies must know which is the best option out there.

When it comes to semi truck automatic vs manual transmission, bear in mind that both count on their own pros and cons. For instance, automatic trucks work great when driving around the city. However, driving a manual transmission works best in mountainous situations, since drivers have better control.

That’s why we’ll go over four main aspects when evaluating each transmission type: driver recruitment, safety and control, fuel savings, and overall driving experience.

Driver Recruitment

Semi Truck Driving Recruitment

Have you ever wondered what percentage of semi trucks are automatic? While two decades ago they weren’t that common, it’s estimated that nowadays it’s around 50 percent for all the North American Class 8 market. However, each company can vary with their percentage.

The reason for this rise is the fact that automated transmission trucks have a much smoother learning process for driving. In other words, companies tend to have better driver recruitment since newer drivers don’t need to have much skill when learning.

Not only can companies attract a younger audience with automatic gearboxes, but the training period is shorter as well. 

Safety and Control

Semitruck Transmissions Safety and Control

There are many things to consider when talking about driver safety and control between automatic vs manual transmission. 

Some drivers feel that automatic transmissions don’t do well in harsh situations, such as snow or going over mountains. This is because drivers tend to have more control over shifting gears when driving a manual gearbox. However, driving a truck with an automatic gearbox helps drivers focus more on the road. 

For this reason, it’s best said that automatic transmission trucks work best when driving around the city. Drivers can concentrate on the road without worrying about gears. 

Manual transmission trucks, on the other hand, work best when having long-distance work. Not only can it operate smoother, but drivers tend to be more engaged when shifting gears. This engagement can help them stay awake during long-distance rides.

Automatic vs Manual Transmission Fuel Savings

Automatic vs Manual Transmission Fuel Savings

Just like with safety and control, fuel savings between automatic and manual transmissions can vary on many factors. For instance, although automatic gearboxes tend to have fewer fuel costs around the city, manual gearboxes tend to perform better on harder circumstances.

In fact, experienced drivers can help with the company’s fuel economy, since they tend to have less trouble with gear shifting. Nonetheless, when it comes to keeping control over gas mileage, companies have better fuel savings with automatic gearboxes when counting on newer drivers.

Overall Driving Experience

Trucking Driving Experience

When it comes to the overall driving experience, new drivers come to have a better time with automatic gearboxes. One of the biggest issues fledgling drivers experience is to efficiently divide their attention between paying attention to the road and shifting gears. Automatic gearboxes solve this problem.

Simply put, an automatic transmission is easy to use. It isn’t as complicated as manual transmissions. However, traditional drivers don’t have as much control over shifting gears. While an automatic gearbox handles shifting gears at a slower pace, manual gearboxes can shift gears much faster. This faster shifting can help many times gain momentum. 

Lastly, it’s essential to keep in mind that automatic gearboxes have much more electrical problems compared to manual transmissions. Not only that, but they can also be costlier as well since these gearboxes come with much more automatic and working parts. 

Luckily, due to the higher demand for automatic transmissions, technicians know much more in how to fix these issues compared to a couple of years ago.

So, Which Transmission Type Is Best?

By viewing all parameters, it’s safe to say that certain semi truck transmission types perform better depending on the circumstances. For instance, when it comes to learning difficulty, manual gearboxes require much skill thus having a longer learning process. 

However, manual transmissions tend to be more forgiving when making a driving mistake during a long-distance route. Not only that, but their repairs tend to be much more affordable compared to automatic gearboxes. 

Lastly, commercial trucking companies tend to have a much better overall control with automatic transmissions when administrating fuel savings. 

AMT as the Middle Ground for the Automatic vs Manual Transmission Dilemma

When not knowing which type of transmission to opt for, then there’s a transmission that combines both automatic and manual gearbox features. This transmission is what we know as the AMT gearbox.

An automated manual transmission offer drivers much more control compared to automatic gearboxes since it counts on a clutch and gearshifts. However, these clutch and gearshifts are operated by the transmission system rather than the driver. A manual transmission, on the other hand, relies on planetary gearing.

AMTs can help save on fuel economy as well since it can shift gears at the right time, as well as it takes into account other factors such as load weight. In other words, automated manual gearboxes act as the finest manual transmission drivers.

Because of this, many manufacturers made AMTs as the standard transmission. Many companies benefit from this transmission type in many ways. For instance, many people claim to see much lower maintenance costs. Additionally, new drivers learn much faster in AMTs compared to manual transmissions.

Lastly, AMTs are much lighter compared to fully automatic gearboxes. In fact, they can even be 100 pounds lighter. For this reason, we believe that the common ground in which you can experience the best of both worlds is by turning to automated manual transmissions.


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