Automatic vs. Manual Transmission - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-08-2010, 02:22 PM   #1
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Hi everybody! I'm looking for as many opinions as possible re: towing with a manual transmission. I prefer them for daily driving but wonder about wear & tear when towing. Our trailer is 1900 lbs dry. The tow vehicle I'm looking at is rear wheel drive rated for 5000 lbs.
(as an aside, why can't I find a GVWR for my Northern Lite?!? It's driving me crazy )

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Old 06-08-2010, 05:44 PM   #2
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I think a lot depends on the tow vehicle you have in mind. My last Ford F150 had a lower tow rating for the manual than for the automatic, same for the Dodge I had.
I have a Subaru that has the same maximum ratings for the manual and automatic (which is actually higher than what my base F150 was) but the automatic has caveats that restrict the load based on some grade and temperature combinations, whereas the manual does not have those same restrictions. Automatics frequently require additional transmission coolers in order to tow, whereas manuals do not.
I personally prefer a manual over an automatic since I would rather risk overheating a clutch than an automatic transmission.

John
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Hi everybody! I'm looking for as many opinions as possible re: towing with a manual transmission. I prefer them for daily driving but wonder about wear & tear when towing. Our trailer is 1900 lbs dry. The tow vehicle I'm looking at is rear wheel drive rated for 5000 lbs.
(as an aside, why can't I find a GVWR for my Northern Lite?!? It's driving me crazy )
I have an Escape with a modest 9" clutch with which I regularly tow my 13 Scamp deluxe.Around the same weight as your trailer. While I would prefer a larger clutch,It does fine.

My '01 Ranger with 135,000 miles, has a manual transmission with which I have pulled a trailer of some sort for more than half that. These include My car trailer, My car dolly, and various fiberglass trailers.
My former '92 Ranger was sold with 203,000 miles, same service, no clutch problems.

Manufacturers commonly rate manual transmissions lower than automatics because of the skill required to operate them,with an automatic you need only one leg, one arm and half an attention span.
For instance the input shaft on a typical Ranger manual trans is rated to accept about twice the torque of the maximum produced by the largest engine available.
Even if you should wear out a clutch it is a small fraction of the cost of an automatic trans rebuild.
If you decide on a rear drive manual trans truck, consider the addition of a limited slip differential, it will save on tire wear, as well as provide better drivability.
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:14 PM   #4
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I have a Nissan Quest for sale because it has an automatic transmission. I bought a 3 liter straight drive pick up to pull my U-haul.

No way am I going to pay upwards of $2500 to replace an automatic transmission in the muddle of Colorado. ( If I can get it done that cheap).

Go figure, I can replace a clutch and rebuild a straight shift myself in a day. With an auto, you have to get a "shop" to do it. For me it's a no brainer.
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:36 AM   #5
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I also prefer a manual transmission over an automatic for towing. However, there is an exception. In the GM truck line, if an Allison automatic is available, it is reported to be up to the task.

On the newer vehicles, the on-board computer controls the engine power level during shifts to get a longer life of the transmission. It drops the power level momentarily as the shift is initiated then restores it when the shift is completed. This has been proven quite successful.

Another thing that prolongs automatic transmission life on the newer vehicles is computer management of the torque converter lock-up clutch. When the clutch is locked, torque converter operation is locked out with no slippage, therefore little heat is generated. At lower temperatures the transmission oil lubricates better and clutch packs and seals don't get 'cooked'.

The worst driving situation for either transmission is heavy stop and go traffic on a steep slope, such as a mountain pass. If I encounter such, I prefer to just pull over, eat lunch, take a nap or whatever until traffic clears.
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Old 06-19-2010, 04:35 AM   #6
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Per RV Consumer Group

The Nothern Lite weights -
Year Curb GVWR
1999 2211 3500
1996 2191 3710
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Old 06-19-2010, 11:14 AM   #7
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Our Subaru has manual. I remember when we first got it, it drove like it was on rails, tracking very well.

Now that we tow with it, it transfers those same characteristics to the toad. Our Trill follows like it is part of the Subaru, and I am very pleased with the combination.
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Old 06-19-2010, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Hi everybody! I'm looking for as many opinions as possible re: towing with a manual transmission. I prefer them for daily driving but wonder about wear & tear when towing. Our trailer is 1900 lbs dry. The tow vehicle I'm looking at is rear wheel drive rated for 5000 lbs.
(as an aside, why can't I find a GVWR for my Northern Lite?!? It's driving me crazy )
I had an 05 Tacoma with a manual transmission and got lazy. Now I have an 07 with an AT.
I just came back from 3 days in the tall timber of the Sequioa National Forest.
The road was an unimpoved Forest Service road that dropped in elevation about 4000' in 11 miles.
I was reminded why missed my manual transmission.
I had my 600 lb. ATV in the back and was towing my 16' Scamp.
Low range with my AT does not have the engine braking power of a manual transmission. I was on my brakes all the way down the MT.
My advice is determine how much Mountian driving you will be doing before you decide.
My AT is great for everything except grade retard on steep roads.
John
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Old 06-19-2010, 06:30 PM   #9
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Trailer: 2000 Northern Lite / Suburban
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Quote:
Per RV Consumer Group

The Nothern Lite weights -
Year Curb GVWR
1999 2211 3500
1996 2191 3710
I knew the info was somewhere, I just wasn't looking in the right place. Thanks so much!
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