Automatic vs. manual transmission - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-16-2011, 07:45 PM   #1
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Automatic vs. manual transmission

Okay, here's my second question - shorter than the first, fortunately .

I prefer a manual transmission but I'm not sure this a good choice for towing. What are your thoughts on these - advantages and disadvantages of each? And personal experience - what do you have and why?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Meg
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:55 PM   #2
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I have always towed with a manual transmission because that's what I like to drive. I think it makes perfect sense for towing as it is easy to downshift on hills and keep moving along at a good clip. But if you are hard on the clutch you will be harder on it while towing so you might end up replacing it a bit more often.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:08 PM   #3
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Semi trucks until the last 5 or 10 years have almost always had a manual transmission, Some even had more than one shifter to deal with but we wont go there.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:20 PM   #4
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We always had manual trannys until the last few years when they were hard to come by used. We experianced less brake replacement with a manual apposed to the automatic. Two speed shifter. Done that.
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Old 04-17-2011, 06:41 AM   #5
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I have had three automobiles with automatic trannys and every one of them have required major work. On the other hand, all of my other cars have been manual shift ( there were many as I am an ond F--T! ). Out of these manual cars, I have only had to replace one clutch.
Towing or not, my preference will always be a stick shift.
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Old 04-17-2011, 06:51 AM   #6
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I always tow with a manual tranny. I feel I have a lot more control. As noted above manuals require less braking. On hilly terrain you can decide when to shift rather than having the tow vehicle constantly shifting between a higher and lower gear.
Good luck,
Barrie
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:12 AM   #7
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Auto all the way for me. I haven't had an auto go bad yet. I don't want to be shifting during some critical situation. Especially when most people just push in the clutch in a emergency baking situation and there's no braking help going on then.

FWIW, my Flex has a towing/hill mode that holds the gear you're in until you manually shift the gear. Plus it has sway control built in as part of its tow package. At least some of the automakers are taking advantage of some of the new technologies available.
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:41 AM   #8
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All my smaller vehicles have had manual transmissions, but I prefer larger vehicles with automatics. I drive in rush hour traffic. With a manual... oh my aching leg. I'm with Steve, I've never (knock wood) had an automatic go bad.
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:50 AM   #9
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We also prefer a manual transmission, particularly from a driver control situation, not to mention initial cost and operating cost. I understand the dislike of manuals when driving in traffic, particularly with the clutch effort on some of the bigger tow vehicles.

Norm
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:05 AM   #10
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I like a manual transmission -- except when backing the trailer up the hill and curve in our driveway. Manual requires a minimum speed or the engine kills, automatic I can take my time. Repair bills have not been more or less with an automatic, but then I am good to my vehicles.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:21 AM   #11
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A review of the towing specifications of vehicles you will find that an automatic has a heaver load towing capability.

Once you get stuck in neutral on a steep hill while trying to down-shift you will then understand why on really steep hills truckers are mandated to STOP and down-shift at the top of the hill and told to stay in that gear all the way down. You will also, if you live through the runaway, appreciate the Automatic transmission.

Ever have your brakes FADE? Once they get to hot it boils the brake fluid and the brakes become useless that is why the big trucks have to stop and shift to a lower gear B4 going down the steep hill. The steep hill also has RUN OFF areas for the runaway vehicles so they can come to a stop.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
A review of the towing specifications of vehicles you will find that an automatic has a heaver load towing capability.

Once you get stuck in neutral on a steep hill while trying to down-shift you will then understand why on really steep hills truckers are mandated to STOP and down-shift at the top of the hill and told to stay in that gear all the way down. You will also, if you live through the runaway, appreciate the Automatic transmission.

Ever have your brakes FADE? Once they get to hot it boils the brake fluid and the brakes become useless that is why the big trucks have to stop and shift to a lower gear B4 going down the steep hill. The steep hill also has RUN OFF areas for the runaway vehicles so they can come to a stop.
Ok , trucks have to stop at the top of the BIG hills to spread them out and to start in a lower gear,it is not a good idea to try and downshift after you start down the hill, and BIG trucks don't have brake fluid too boil, but yes they can certainly have brake fade. I spent 23 years in those BIG trucks and never ever had to use an escape ramp.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
A review of the towing specifications of vehicles you will find that an automatic has a heaver load towing capability.

Once you get stuck in neutral on a steep hill while trying to down-shift you will then understand why on really steep hills truckers are mandated to STOP and down-shift at the top of the hill and told to stay in that gear all the way down. You will also, if you live through the runaway, appreciate the Automatic transmission.

Ever have your brakes FADE? Once they get to hot it boils the brake fluid and the brakes become useless that is why the big trucks have to stop and shift to a lower gear B4 going down the steep hill. The steep hill also has RUN OFF areas for the runaway vehicles so they can come to a stop.
I was in the trucking business for 35 years and... never had a big rig with an automatic. Semi rigs are (almost) always manual unless they operate in the city. Trucks check their brakes at the top of large hills for safety and don't shift on the way down to use engine braking but runoffs have nothing to do with manual VS automatic transmissions; it has to do with weight of the load and momentum. Start down slow, stay within the tolerance of the vehicle and stay off the brakes if possible.
Manual transmissions are the staple for towing large trailers for a reason; they're proven.
Barrie
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:57 AM   #14
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Thank you all for your answers so far; they've been very helpful. I have just a couple of comments, sort of in reverse order of the posts -

Yes, I've seen the runaway areas; there are a few on I-70 just west of here in the mountains. I knew they were for big trucks with brake problems but that was about all I knew; it did seem like a scary situation. Personally I've never had my brakes fade; the few times I've driven in the mountains, even with an automatic, I've always downshifted to save having to use the brakes.

I have had to replace the clutch on both of the manual transmission cars I've owned (a Sube and an Escort); they both went out at around 90K miles. I don't know if that's bad or good; I did feel like I used those clutches a lot but then I've done mostly city driving, which is a lot of stop-and-go (if only for the traffic lights). But I've also had to replace an automatic transmission - in the first car I ever owned. So I guess that's 3 out of 5 that have needed some work done in that area.

I did want to mention that I don't plan to stay in Denver. I want to do some traveling and maybe some workcamping, and I'll probably stay close to a coast since I really miss the ocean - I grew up in Philadelphia. But I'm really interested in checking out the West Coast and there are a lot of mountains between here and there, so there will be some mountain driving - probably only enough to get to the other side.

Meg
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