I need a new tow vehicle, are automatics as good as manual transmissions nowadays? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-28-2017, 08:11 PM   #1
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I need a new tow vehicle, are automatics as good as manual transmissions nowadays?

My tow vehicle is getting old (15years, 260,000miles), so I've been looking at what's available. It has a manual transmission. I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 4.7 V8 to replace it, but it is not as nice a tow-er as my current tow.

Do the modern transmissions do a better job of picking the right gear when climbing a grade? I have to manually shift the jeep in order to get the right gear at the right time.
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:26 PM   #2
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I put my truck in drive / tow haul and go or tow. I do not pretend that I am smarter than my vehicles computer. We have made multiple trips through the Rockies and the Appalachian mountains and never felt the need to manually shift anything except the radio from AM to FM. The 8 speed transmission in my Ram truck seems to know what gear is best for the conditions so I leave well enough alone. I fully admit that I am not a car guy , wasn't one when I was a teen and 50 years later nothings changed.
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:41 PM   #3
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"As good as" is a loaded term. In many cases, today's automatic transmissions are actually more efficient than a manual. Technology changes.

I'm turning in my F150 in a few months (lease end) for a 2018 and am looking forward to the new 10 speed transmission, I can tell you.
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:27 PM   #4
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Right now I get 14 mpg driving the posted speed limit (75 in 80mph zones). If I slow down to 'max' 65mph I get 17. This was on a trip a few weeks ago Las Vegas->Bellingham,WA->Las Vegas.

Not bad for a normally aspirated gasser with 260K on it!
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim99 View Post
My tow vehicle is getting old (15years, 260,000miles), so I've been looking at what's available. It has a manual transmission. I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 4.7 V8 to replace it, but it is not as nice a tow-er as my current tow.

Do the modern transmissions do a better job of picking the right gear when climbing a grade? I have to manually shift the jeep in order to get the right gear at the right time.
Judging from my new Ford (personal experience) and from my exposure to other brands...

The new automatic transmissions are better engineered with better shift strategies and the ability to lock the torque converter in any gear. This gives less heat and more efficiency. There is more than one shift strategy available in automatic modes and most have a "manual" select mode as well.
Much better than their predecessors.

Ford's manual transmissions are still more efficient with more control and much cheaper to maintain over time, but they don't offer a significant tow rated vehicle with a manual here in the states.

I just bought my first new automatic (for personal use) in forty years.
It works as intended and is more tolerable than any automatic I have driven. I have now towed more than a thousand miles with it in all conditions and paved terrains. I like it well enough to say that it mitigates much of my disappointment in being "forced" to buy it.

The transmission does not "hunt" if left in drive and would do the job well, even when it downshifts on steep grades.
However,even though it is not called for, I prefer to use manual mode for areas with lots of grades since the torque converter unlocks to shift and I prefer to do that in "no load" conditions like at the bottom of a grade rather than under a full load half way up. Same is true with descending a steep grade.The "Sport" mode and the manual mode both offer engine braking down grades.

Tangent note...
Even the ABS and associated functions are much improved and are practically useful rather than "criminally dangerous" like most earlier systems.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I put my truck in drive / tow haul and go or tow. I do not pretend that I am smarter than my vehicles computer. We have made multiple trips through the Rockies and the Appalachian mountains and never felt the need to manually shift anything except the radio from AM to FM. The 8 speed transmission in my Ram truck seems to know what gear is best for the conditions so I leave well enough alone. I fully admit that I am not a car guy , wasn't one when I was a teen and 50 years later nothings changed.
Even if the computer is smarter than you are, it is blind to upcoming grades. Don't be surprised if the GPS is someday tied in to the shift strategy to alleviate this problem and the associated wear.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:23 AM   #7
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:30 AM   #8
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the shop manager of a local transmission repair shop said, 'the more gears, the more expensive they are to fix and the more often they fail'

me, I'm towing with a Toyota Tacoma 4x4 4.0L V6 and a 6 speed stick shift. when I'm towing, I never use 6th, and I'll downshift to 4th for most significant grades. been all over Northern California, and Oregon this past year, haven't met a mountain I can't keep 55-60 MPH going in 4th.
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Old 11-29-2017, 06:41 AM   #9
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I updated from a 2007 Silverado 5.3L 4 speed automatic to a 2017 Seirra 6 speed automatic with Echotec3 V8 5.3L engine.
The ten year difference between the two similar trucks is unbelievable.
On a certain down hill section the brakes on the 07 would overheat and engine braking totally eliminated that.
For instance when towing with the cruise control on going down hill when the speed reaches 5 MPH over the set speed engine braking is used to slow the vehicle.
The load.hual button does not make any noticeable difference with the 3000# Casita.
Not to mention the 3 to 4 more MPG I'm getting.

I've learned to let others blaze the trail on new technologies. The 6 speed has been around long enough to be debugged and the 10 speed has just been released.

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Old 11-29-2017, 07:14 AM   #10
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I agree with your agreement of his statement

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Floyd
Well said!
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Old 11-29-2017, 08:31 AM   #11
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Even if the computer is smarter than you are, it is blind to upcoming grades. Don't be surprised if the GPS is someday tied in to the shift strategy to alleviate this problem and the associated wear.
The computer is smarter than I am which is rather obvious.
I never contended the computer was smarter than you.
I have friends who have fairly new vehicles and they are constantly trying to out think their vehicle's computer by continually manually shifting their automatic transmission. They seem to be in search of a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. They get no better fuel mileage than I do, it seems they have far more mechanical problems than I do and their vehicle doesn't perform any better than mine does.
As my Dad use to say " Leave it alone and guit playing , it's working just fine "

Are computer controlled automatic transmissions perfect ? NO
but neither are the manual ones controlled by humans especially teenage boys !
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:17 AM   #12
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And another thing... HEAT!
There is almost nothing else that matters when it comes to transmission damage.
With all the clever little "apps", everything from ambient temperature to instant MPG, even low washer fluid, but no "trans temp" readout.
Heck, it doesn't even have a dipstick!!
Fluid monitoring is difficult.

At least on my Ranger 5spd manual I can simply touch the shifter to monitor trans temp since its a single rail.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:23 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
With all the clever little "apps", everything from ambient temperature to instant MPG, even low washer fluid, but no "trans temp" readout.
If there is a temp sensor in the transmission that "talks" to the computer, you may be able to use a wireless OBD2 scan tool and an App for your phone or tablet to get that information.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd View Post
And another thing... HEAT!
There is almost nothing else that matters when it comes to transmission damage.
With all the clever little "apps", everything from ambient temperature to instant MPG, even low washer fluid, but no "trans temp" readout.
Heck, it doesn't even have a dipstick!!
Fluid monitoring is difficult.

At least on my Ranger 5spd manual I can simply touch the shifter to monitor trans temp since its a single rail.

One of the "information" settings available on my new 2017 Sierra is "transmission fluid temperature" AND it even has a transmission dip stick

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Old 11-29-2017, 09:52 AM   #15
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Fuller UltraShift® Transmission vs Automatic

Recently I rode in a truck (straight truck) that had a manual transmission, regular clutch, but no clutch pedal. As a former semi truck driver I has fascinated by the computer doing all the shifting except for reverse. The computer up shifting and down shifting was flawless (no grinding or jerky starts) even coming up out of a loading ramp. The driver chose forward, neutral, or reverse. I believe he said it had an Fuller UltraShift® Transmission . This truck had the economy and durability of a manual but the convenience of an automatic. Maybe one day it will come to the automotive side.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:57 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Joe Romas View Post
One of the "information" settings available on my new 2017 Sierra is "transmission fluid temperature" AND it even has a transmission dip stick

Joe
For my TC... Ford just says to have the fluid changed every 150000 miles and don't worry about it, maybe they are right.
My Gramma said you should not pull radishes out of the ground just to check their progress!
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Old 11-29-2017, 10:06 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Jim G. - Ohio View Post
Recently I rode in a truck (straight truck) that had a manual transmission, regular clutch, but no clutch pedal. As a former semi truck driver I has fascinated by the computer doing all the shifting except for reverse. The computer up shifting and down shifting was flawless (no grinding or jerky starts) even coming up out of a loading ramp. The driver chose forward, neutral, or reverse. I believe he said it had an Fuller UltraShift® Transmission . This truck had the economy and durability of a manual but the convenience of an automatic. Maybe one day it will come to the automotive side.
It has been in cars for about a decade, manual trans with a dual clutch with paddle shifters and an autoshift mode.
I think Getrag builds them for Porsche and Ford, there may be others.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:30 PM   #18
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Back in the day I had a 1967 ish VW bug with the auto stick. It was a manual transmission without a clutch. It was an odd thing.

I used to be a die hard manual transmission fan but the new automatic transmissions require less maintenance and last as long or longer than manuals. With a manual you will need to change the clutch and other items long before an automatic needs attention.

For anything other than a sports car my default choice is an automatic now days.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:42 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by the_fixer View Post
Back in the day I had a 1967 ish VW bug with the auto stick. It was a manual transmission without a clutch. It was an odd thing.

I used to be a die hard manual transmission fan but the new automatic transmissions require less maintenance and last as long or longer than manuals. With a manual you will need to change the clutch and other items long before an automatic needs attention.

For anything other than a sports car my default choice is an automatic now days.
Your default is an automatic in most cases , no choice involved.

While the new automatics have improved...
I disagree with your entire second paragraph.
(except of course for the first ten words)

The issue is effectively moot anyway.
I just conceded defeat with my last purchase and along with it have de facto accepted the baggage which comes with it. Its not all bad.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:43 PM   #20
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I've used both. The newer automatics seem to work well. On the downside, if they fail they are expensive to fix. I prefer a manual because I can select the gear for either going up or down hill. I also get better fuel mileage with a manual shift and I've never had a gearbox overheat.
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